Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Cotton Pickers

Published by E.C. Kropp Co.

"Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882, adopted as a national holiday in 1894. According to the Department of Labor website, the idea was first articulated by a union leader named McGuire. Whether it is Peter McGuire, as typically claimed, or Mathew McGuire, is unclear. Speculation is that Mathew, who led a number of strikes to raise awareness of the poor conditions and long hours endured by factory workers, was too radical for many, including Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, who attributed creation of the holiday to his friend Peter in an1897 interview.

In searching for a postcard to correspond to today's holiday, I was surprised to find so few depicting labor or work (though maybe I shouldn't be.) I did find this postcard of cotton pickers, likely sharecroppers given the probable date of the card. The gap between the conditions of workers in unions and freed slaves seemed just as fitting to note on this day which is supposed to celebrate the contribution of workers to the prosperity of the nation. Less than twenty years after the Civil War, did former slaves feel their contribution was celebrated, let alone acknowledged? Who are the unacknowledged of today?


1 comment:

Lyneen said...

great postcard for Labor Day...

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