Monday, September 2, 2019

The First Labor Day Parade

Blogger: Amber Schamel

Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope you are enjoying the last hurrah of summer and the three day weekend. Today I thought it would be fitting to talk about the first ever Labor Day Parade and the events surrounding the holiday. 

First Labor Day Parade September 5, 1882

The year is 1882, the Gilded Age, with all of its beauties and horrors. One of the major problems of this era was the horrible working conditions and the long, hard hours workers were expected to perform if they wanted to remain employed. At this point in history, the average American worked twelve hours per day, six days a week, often in harsh conditions, and with very little pay. As a result, many trade unions and other organizations formed with a goal to advocate for laborers.

One of the tactics that was utilized was a public demonstration to celebrate labor, and the workers involved in it. On September 5th of 1882, several labor unions, including the Knights of Labor joined together under what they called the Central Labor Union and had a parade down the streets of New York City. Music, banners, and American Flags were among the sights of that first parade as ladies with parasols and men with their hats and canes turned out to witness the sight.
P.J. McGuire - Father of Labor Day

The demonstration was a successful one, and soon the idea of a holiday to celebrate labor was proposed. P.J. McGuire is credited with having made the suggestion, and his work on behalf of the laborer is remembered in giving him the title of "Father of Labor Day." In the early days, Labor Day often began with a parade and involved speeches by leading labor union leaders.

Today, Labor day is little more than the last three-day-weekend of Summer and the start of football season. But we would do well to remember our labor history on this day as well, and perhaps even muse on what still needs to be changed.

What labor law are you most grateful for? 


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives near Denver, Colorado near her favorite stretch of mountain range. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Very interesting post! I'm grateful for the OSHA laws that require employers to provide a safe working environment!

  2. I agree with Linda, that the laws for safety are the ones I'm most grateful for. Also, I know that many people are anti-union but I think what was done on behalf of the worker for decent pay, decent hours and safe work environments in the days that unions were formed were important. Thanks for the post.

  3. I agree with OSHA laws being important. My husband is on the safety board for the current job he is on Thank you for sharing.