History Of Labor Day

The history of Labor Day involves two men, Peter J. McGuire and Matthew Maguire, who committed themselves to bettering the working conditions of the common laborer. In the late 1800s, at the time of the Industrial Revolution, the workday was commonly twelve hours long and lasted from Sunday through the following Saturday. Little time was given to the workers for staying home or tending to personal affairs. Even children were not immune from working long hours. The trade unions were founded as a collective voice to improve working conditions and to bargain for wages and benefits. Though historians may differ on who to credit for the beginning of the holiday, the historic meaning of Labor Day is clear: it was to be a workingmen's holiday complete with a street parade, a festival, and rousing speeches.

Red-headed Irish American Peter McGuire served as the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founded the American Federation of Labor. According to one version of the history of Labor Day, McGuire was the first to propose setting aside a particular day to honor the American worker. At the May 18, 1882 meeting of the Central Labor Union in New York City, McGuire proposed "a festive day . . . [to] permit public tribute to American industry." Other sources attribute the holiday's beginnings to Matthew Maguire, a machinist who served as secretary of the Central Labor Union. Maguire later became secretary of the Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey. It's believed that Maguire sent out invitations to the first event, celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. Mr. and Mrs. Maguire, joined by Henry Ward Beecher, rode in a carriage at the beginning of this parade. Beecher was a reformer and abolitionist preacher whose sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, gained fame as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Both Peter McGuire and Matthew Maguire were involved in the Central Labor Union. Perhaps it's because the last names are so similar that the history of Labor Day is unclear as to which one was the first to have the idea. Some researchers speculate that McGuire is given the credit because of Maguire's socialist activities. Early sources favor giving the title of "Father of the Labor Day" holiday to Maguire, including the Paterson newspaper, Morning Call, and a note in an 1898 book called Curiosities of Popular Customs. However, McGuire claimed the title for himself in 1897. The historic meaning of Labor Day is more important than who founded it. All can agree that both men were important reformers and leaders in the movement to improve the horrific working conditions of so many. Reforms were needed to shorten the long workweek. Scriptures tell us: "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:3).

The first event, in 1882, was attended by at least 10,000 workers. Most of them left their jobs, without permission, to march to Union Hall in New York City. The following year, the holiday was celebrated on the same date, September 5, 1883. It was held on the first Monday in September for the first time in 1884 and other industrial cities were encouraged to hold similar events. Detroit, the automotive capital, held its first event on August 16, 1884. Though the state of New York was the first to introduce a bill to make the event a state holiday, Oregon was the first to actually pass legislation. This happened on February 21, 1887. With about half the states now celebrating this special holiday, Congress passed legislation on June 28, 1894, which was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland. The first Monday in September was finally an official national holiday. The meaning of Labor Day to its founders and supporters is even more significant when considering its uniqueness. The holiday doesn't honor any specific person or the American Presidents or commemorate a historic event. Instead it honors the enduring work of common laborers and the achievements of the movement. The worldwide community, beginning with Canada in 1894, selected May 1 (or May Day) as their recognized International Labor Day. Some speculate that President Cleveland lobbied for a September date, not only to highlight the date of the original parade in 1882, but because of his staunch views against the socialists who wanted the May 1 date.

In recent years, the meaning of Labor Day seems to have been lost. Instead of attending city-wide street parades and listening to political speeches, workers and their families think of the three-day-weekend as one more chance for summer fun before settling into the autumn routine of school and preparing for the cold winter days to come. It's still a festive time: retail stores hold gigantic back-to-school sales, beaches are crowded, national parks and campgrounds are full. But surely even the most dedicated shopper and the fun-seeking vacationer can take a few minutes to remember two energetic and dedicated men, Peter J. McGuire and Matthew Maguire. Researchers may argue about which one was the "Father," but no one can deny that each one played an important part in the history of Labor Day. Due to their efforts, the working man didn't just get his holiday. He also received long-overdue and well-deserved recognition for his contribution to our nation's economic prosperity.

Labor Day Grilling Recipes

Cooks may brag about Labor Day grilling recipes, but the tastiest ones are usually those passed down from generation to generation and proven through years of practice. Labor Day, a federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September was established in 1882 as a day for working class men, or laborers, to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Over the years, it has come to represent the end of summer vacation and the last opportunity to get out the grill and enjoy old fashioned barbecues with families and friends. Thousands of grill masters throughout the U.S. vie for the title of King of the Coals with taste-tempting concoctions handed down from grandmas, aunts and cousins; or swiped from cookbooks and online food websites. Labor Day picnic recipes usually feature a grilled meat as the star attraction surrounded by several side dishes as the supporting cast. Barbecue ribs, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and whole hogs usually take center stage. Cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and grilled corn-on-the-cob have become favorite sides in the U.S. While planning a Labor Day feast, why not cook enough to treat homeless and hungry neighbors to a free meal? "For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me" (Matthew 25:35-36). A godly gesture is to share one's bountifulness with the less fortunate.

Labor Day grilling recipes begin with preparing the meat, usually overnight or hours before placing on the grill. Spareribs and poultry can be dry-rubbed, soaked in a specially prepared marinade, or parboiled just before grilling to ensure tenderness. Dry rubs vary depending on which region of the country the cook is from. Southerners like rubs with lots of garlic powder, paprika, or seasoned salt; while Texans are known for using a little cayenne pepper for an extra kick. Marinading may include soaking meat overnight in spicy brine to reduce the fat and add flavor, or bathing meat in a mixture of vinegar-based sauces. Barbecue connoisseurs sometimes inject marinades directly into the muscle of pork roasts, chicken and turkey prior to smoking or grilling. Across the country, Labor Day picnic recipes that include partially boiling the meat prior to grilling may be the least favorite method of cooking. Boiling may be a more fail-safe method of ensuring tenderness, but it actually seals the meat before the smoke and seasonings can penetrate. The end result may be meat that tastes like it has been cooked on the stove or oven, rather than on the grill. Anyone who has sampled boiled pork neck bones, with barbecue sauce, a Southern favorite, can get an idea about the taste typically associated with ribs that are pre-boiled and then grilled.

The key to great Labor Day grilling recipes is planning and preparation. Start with the main course meat. Spareribs will require trimming off excess fat and connective tissue, but leaving some of the fat on will prevent burning and add more flavor. Both ribs and chicken should be rinsed in cold running water, dabbed dry, and rubbed with a mixture of the cooks favorite seasonings. For the best flavor, meats should be placed in a large roasting pan, sealed with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight. Marinated meats are best left in the fridge overnight, too. A safety precaution: never allow raw meats and juices to touch cooked foods or countertops. Wipe down counters with a disinfectant. Be sure to wash hands and utensils after handling raw meats and use different utensils and platters to transfer raw meats to the grill. While the meats are resting, cooks should begin prepping vegetables for potato salad, Cole slaw, or tossed salad and assembling ingredients for baked beans. Side dishes can be prepared either the day before or hours prior to grilling.

Delicious Labor Day grilling recipes start with the perfect fire. Many a spare rib or T-bone steak has been lost by grilling too quickly or with too much flame. And when it comes to the best barbecue, timing is crucial. Whether using old fashioned charcoal and lighter fluid or quick-lighting briquettes, the key is to let the coals turn ashy white before placing the meat on the grill. Maintaining the right temperature ensures even cooking and less burning. Place the seasoned spareribs, chicken or burgers over the coals, close the top and allow the meat to smoke for about ten minutes, checking periodically to make sure that the flames are really low. Be sure to have a spray bottle full of water to extinguish high flames. Slow-grill meats for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning often, until they no longer have a heavy weight, but are slightly charred on the outside with grill marks. A lighter weight is a good indication that the meat is well done and excess water has been absorbed. While cooks may quibble about when to baste with barbecue sauce, the key is to add it late enough so that it wont burn, but early enough for the meat to absorb all the pungent flavors.

Dont waste that fire! Preparing Labor Day picnic recipes is a great reason to make full use of the perfect flame. Once the main course meats are grilled, remove them to a large roasting pan and keep the meat warm in the oven. The lower, almost non-existent, flames are perfect for grilling smaller pieces of meat or poultry, hot dogs, and knackwursts. Assembling the bounty of Labor Day grilling recipes is simple. Cut the spareribs between each bone and assemble on a platter. Arrange pieces of poultry on an additional serving dish. Add Cole slaw, potato salad, and baked beans to the mix with condiments, especially homemade barbecue sauce in plentiful supply. Stand back and watch the crowd hungrily devour some of the best Labor Day picnic recipes in America.

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