Grover Cleveland was a very unpopular man back in 1896. He had broken up the Pullman Car strike using United States Marshals and some 2,000 United States Army troops, on the premise that the strike interfered with the delivery of U.S. Mail. During the course of the strike, 13 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded. It didn't win him any friends with the fledgling labor movement in America.
In order to throw a bone to Labor, Cleveland supported a holiday honoring workers on the first Monday in September, hoping it would help Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. May 1st was initially proposed but was then rejected because government leaders believed that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the Chicago Haymarket riots which had occurred in early May of 1886.
Cleveland was proven wrong and the Democratic party suffered their worse defeat ever.
So remember the cynical origins of the holiday while you are BBQ'ing this afternoon.
"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," explained Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Mr. Gompers elaborated further: "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day. . . is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."
And yet, despite Mr. Gompers's assertions, Labor Day is not a Seinfeldian holiday about nothing. It is, according to Department of Labor, "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."
Workers being whom, exactly?
Whenever someone talks about Labor with an audible capital L, I picture a bunch of sweaty, grease-stained steelworkers, or guys in blue overalls and goggles with soldering irons. Their contribution is the oft-cited "sweat of their brows." Union regulations being what they are, though, they seem to be pretty well compensated for that sweat.
The term "Workers" has to include more than steelworkers and welders—otherwise we could just call it "Steelworkers and Welders Day." After all, a worker is just "one who works." I'm a worker (until recently, I was a worker). Almost everyone I know is or was a worker.
The difference seems to be unions. If you belong to a union, you're a Worker or a Laborer (I'm not sure if they have different unions). If you don't belong to a union, you're a lousy lazy-ass—an exploiting bourgeois bastard.
Think what this means: Teresa Giudice , Kim Kardashian, Glenn Beck and Heidi Montag are Workers. Your friends who work awful hours at lousy jobs in wretched offices—they're bourgeois scum.
September 6, 1925 -
The silent-film The Phantom of the Opera, starring, Lon Chaney (who considered it his crowning achievement) premiered in NYC on this date.
Rupert Julian, the director, fought constantly with the cast and crew. Julian and Lon Chaney were not on speaking terms for most of the production, and had to communicate through intermediaries. Norman Kerry actually charged at Julian while riding a horse, knocking Julian to the ground in front of a group of onlookers.
September 6, 1935 -
This great Astaire and Rogers film, Top Hat, was released on this date.
This was the first film written specifically for Fred and Ginger.
September 6, 1936 -
The classic screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey, premiered on this date.
This is the only movie to ever get Oscar nominations for writing, directing and all four acting awards without being nominated for Best Picture. It's also the only movie to ever get those six nominations and lose them all.
September 6, 1944 -
Billy Wilder's film-noir classic, Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, premiered on this date (there is a little confusion on this date.)
Billy Wilder had a tough time getting a leading man for this film; many actors, including George Raft turned the project down. He had to persuade Fred MacMurray to accept the part.
Today in History -
September 6, 1901 -
While shaking hands at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President William McKinley is shot twice in the abdomen at point-blank range with a .32 caliber revolver.
The assassin, an anarchist by the name of Leon Frank Czolgosz, actually is a lone gunman (for once).
McKinley dies a week later and became the third American president assassinated.
Although there can be no royalty in the United States, one young woman is crowned each year as Miss America. The first such coronation was held on September 6, 1921.
Miss America reigns for one year, at which point she must retire-unless she removes her clothing, in which case she's deposed. (Or is that denuded?)
September 6, 1951 -
During a drinking party in Mexico City, author William S. Burroughs instructs his wife Joan to balance a glass of gin on her head. He then takes careful aim with his new .38 pistol, and unintentionally blows her brains out in front of their friends. The Mexican authorities later charge Burroughs with criminal imprudence.
So kids remember, when a drunken Beat drug addict writer asks you to play "William Tell" - Just Say No!!!
September 6, 1966 -
Parliamentary messenger Demetrios Tsafendas assassinates Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, considered to be the primary architect of apartheid, by stabbing him in his chest on the floor of the South African legislature.
While Verwoerd died shortly thereafter, Apartheid tenaciously clung to life until 1994.
And so it goes