On May 1, 1856, workers in Australia decided to strike for one day to demand an eight hour work day.
Thirty years later, in the American city of Chicago, workers made the same demand. Inspired by the Australians, they too began their strike on May 1st. Demonstrations went on, and by May 3rd someone involved was killed.
This led to more protests the next day. As the police started to disperse the crowd, a bomb exploded and 8 policemen were fatally injured.
The next day the police rounded up some of the key players in the demonstrations. Eventually eight men were brought to trial. Though there was never evidence linking them to the bomb, they were found guilty and the judge sentenced them to death. Four of them were hanged and another committed suicide while in jail. In 1893 the other three men were pardoned by the governor.
Oddly enough, it’s several other countries that remembered the significance of the events in Chicago on May 1st. Those countries made their Labor Day holiday on May Day.
The US government didn’t want to bring attention to the history of May 1st, so they made Labor Day a holiday in September. That’s why many Americans aren’t familiar with the significance of May 1st and that its history started in their own country.
UPDATE: In a later post I list some of the countries that celebrate Labor Day on May 1st.
This article was posted on Saturday, April 29th, 2006 at 3:21 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, France, Germany, Holidays Around the World, Labor Day, May Day, Russia, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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