Labor Day, A Brief History – Sheridan Media


Monday is Labor Day. Labor Day is an old holiday in the United States, it was declared a federal holiday in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland. But, before it was an official federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized as a holiday in several individual states.

In The Wyoming Times, Evanston, Wyoming August 31, 1911, an article gives a brief history of how the holiday came about. Labor Day Beginnings Terence V. Powderly, the man who was largely Instrumental in organizing the Knights of Labor nearly forty years ago, tells the Washington correspondent of the Brooklyn Eagle of the first Labor Day. In 1881 there was a parade of 20,000 labor men in New York city, and one of the officials said to another on the reviewing stand: “Well. Jack, this is Labor Day, all right. Isn’t it?” The remark attracted attention and a reservation setting aside the first Monday in September for a celebration of labor’s progress was introduced in the New York legislature.

While it was pending Oregon, (on February 21, 1887) passed a law establishing the holiday, the first state in the Union to do this. New York was the second. Later states to the number of thirty-three passed similar laws and in 1894 the day was recognized by the national government and is now observed wherever it has jurisdiction. The language of the government resolution was to the effect that on that day employers and employees should get together to discuss their general welfare. That result has not been generally observable as yet, but perhaps we shall work up to it eventually.

State Seal on the Clearmont Veteran’s Memorial

State Governors each year proclaimed Labor Day as a holiday. One of the earliest references in Wyoming was from the Cheyenne Daily Sun Leader on August 28, 1895.

Labor Day Proclamation: State of Wyoming, Executive Department. Whereas, The congress of the United States has designated the first Monday In September of each year a national holiday, to be known as Labor Day. Now, therefore, I, William A. Richards, governor of the state of Wyoming, do hereby appoint and proclaim Monday, September 2, 1896, a legal holiday throughout the state of Wyoming. This day has been by law set apart as a holiday, as an evidence of the fact that the people of this great republic recognize the worth and dignity of human labor, the foundation of our national prosperity. It ls especially appropriate that we of Wyoming should observe such a holiday as this because we probably have fewer people of leisure than any other state.

“Those who do not work do not become permanent residents. The recent trouble on our western border was largely a protest against allowing unusual privilege to a class of beings who have not yet learned that they cannot live without labor. It Is earnestly requested and recommended that upon the day named all business be suspended and that it be appropriately observed and celebrated as Labor Day.

In testimony whereof I have here unto set my hand and caused the great seal of the state to be here to affixed, at the capitol in the city of Cheyenne this 24th day of August, A. D. 1895. WM. A. Richards (Seal) Governor. By the Governor: Charles W. Burdick, Secretary of State.

And this article from the Niobrara County News, Manville, Wyoming, September 2, 1915. This was from Sheridan’s own John B. Kendrick.

Labor Day Proclamation: As the world progresses in civilization and learning the appreciation of what Labor has done and can do, grows with us. We are coming to a better realization of the fact that without Labor, nothing would be possible. Our country and State would not have risen to the dignity of substantial commonwealths: our people would be still upon a par with the cave dwellers of prehistoric times. Law and order would be unknown and the great elements which the Creator has placed to our hands would yet exist as crude materials of unknown value.

With the growth of civilization, there comes a desire to better regulate Labor, to lay down rules so that man who earns his bread by his brawn will have a just number of stipulated hours for work; rules so that women and children cannot be imposed upon by the more powerful who control their exertions. There also comes a desire to recognize the splendid part which those who labor play in the advancement and up-building of the world, and bring to the attention of the people as a whole and in the most forceful manner possible. the high regard in which such men and women are held by society. With this end in view, one day in each year has been set apart as Labor Day. THEREFORE, I John B. Kendrick, Governor of the State of Wyoming, do designate Monday, September 6, 1915Labor Day And request that the citizens of the State observe the day to the fullest extent, so as to increase the respect in which Labor is held, and show due regard for those who toil. Let the day be observed as a holiday: let all business be suspended, insofar as it is practical, and let a friendly word be spoken on all hands in honor of those upon whom the material progress and success of our state and nation depend.

In witness whereof, I have here upon set my and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State of Wyoming.

Done in the city of Cheyenne, this twenty-fifth day of August, A.D. 1915. John B. Kendrick, Governor. By the Governor Frank L. Houx, Sec. Of state.

John B. Kendrick’s Sheridan Home

It was celebrated in Sheridan with parades, baseball, and other activities, as this article in the The Semi-Weekly Enterprise, August 27, 1907

Big Time Labor Day Celebration Will Be Under Supervision Of Sheridan Trades And Labor Council. Will Have Fine Parade, Speeches at Kendrlck Park— Long List of Races and Sports, including Baseball

Monday is Labor Day and the occasion will be appropriately celebrated In Sheridan. The exercises will be under the direction of the Sheridan Trades and Labor Council.

The parade will start from Eagles’ hall at 8:30 and proceed to the Burlington depot, where it will meet the organization from Dietz, Carneyvllle and Monarch. The parade will then proceed south on Main street to Works, west on Works to Linden avenue, thence to Kendrlck park. At the park speeches will be made by Hon. John S. Taylor, mayor of Sheridan, and other prominent men.

At 2 p. m. there will be sports and races on Grinnell avenue, occupying the time from 2 till 4 o’clock. There will be two boys’ races, a young men’s race, old men’s race, fat men’s race, girls’ race, young ladies’ race, old ladles’ race, three-legged race, sack race, running high Jump, tug-of-war. Suitable prizes are offered in all these contests. A prize of $25 is offered for the local making the best showing in the parade. A game of ball between the Sheridan Tigers and the World for a purse of $100 at the baseball park.

The executive committee of the Trades and Labor Council desire to state that it has no control over the closing of stores on Labor Day, but requests a general observance of the closing order, at least between the hours of 10 and 6. Many stores have agreed to close during these hours, and it is announced that all employees will be free to join in the exercises on Monday. On account of Saturday being payday at the mines, requests have come from that quarter to allow visitors from these places an opportunity to purchase what they desire sometime during the day.

Today, Labor Day is still celebrated, and working people look forward to it as a three-day holiday and the official end of summer. Happy Labor Day.

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