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Why Do We Get Labor Day Off?

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Raise a glass to the desperate politicking of Grover Cleveland.

By Brendan I. Koerner

The nation will observe Labor Day this coming Monday, allowing millions to enjoy the waning days of summer, as well their last chance to wear white pants without earning a "tsk tsk" from Miss Manners. How did this early September holiday get its start?

Though President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894, the occasion was first observed on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. A parade was organized by the city's Central Labor Union, a branch of the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor, a secretive labor union founded in 1869 by a clique of Philadelphia tailors. Historians still debate over whom, specifically, to credit with the idea of a holiday dedicated to the workingman. Some say that Labor Day was the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Others argue that Matthew Maguire, the CLU's secretary, was the holiday's mastermind and that he doesn't receive proper credit ...... To read full article, click here to visit Slate Magazine.