What do you think?
Labor Day, 2008 — in addition to honoring America’s working people, especially unionized working people, Labor Day is the traditional start of the presidential campaign in presidential election years.
What if we applied the false start rules the Olympics uses to presidential campaigns?
Fly your U.S. flag today. This is one of the dates designated in law as a permanent date for flag flying.
Here are some past posts on labor, and Labor Day:
History-minded people may want to look at the history of the holiday, such as the history told at the Department of Labor’s website.
The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. After marching from City Hall to Union Square, the workers and their families gathered in Reservoir Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This first Labor Day celebration was initiated by Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader who a year earlier cofounded the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a precursor of the American Federation of Labor.
McGuire had proposed his idea for a holiday honoring American workers at a labor meeting in early 1882. New York’s Central Labor Union quickly approved his proposal and began planning events for the second Tuesday in September. McGuire had suggested a September date in order to provide a break during the long stretch between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. While the first Labor Day was held on a Tuesday, the holiday was soon moved to the first Monday in September, the date we continue to honor.
What do the unions say? Among other parts of history, the AFL-CIO site has a biography of Walter Reuther, the legendary organizer of automobile factory workers — September 1 is the anniversary of Reuther’s birthday (he died in an airplane crash on the way to a union training site, May 10, 1970).
We’re off to a barbecue-style picnic at the in-laws. Kenny is down from the University of Texas at Dallas, James still hasn’t begun classes at Lawrence University (which is too far to come from for dinner, anyway). Family usually gets precedence in this house, so we miss the IBEW, UAW, and other union picnics we get invited to here.
We’re glad to have the day off. Working people made this nation, and this world, what it is today. We should honor them every day — take a few minutes today, give honor to workers. Tomorrow, it’s back to work.
- Labor Day facts from the U.S. Census Bureau (7.1 million teachers in the U.S. — think we can have a say in the elections this fall?)
- “Your Rights as a Worker,” Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration
- History of Labor Unions, “100 Years of Struggle and Success,” interactive piece from AFL-CIO
- Labor Day site from USA.gov
Oh, it’s only a little dirty, sure. With but with Democrats like the PUMAs, sometimes you wonder why we need Karl Rove. With Hillary supporters like a few of the PUMAs, who needs Monica Lewinsky?
At the Confluence, anything that displeases the board moderators gets edited to say something completely trivial and, the board’s moderators appear to hope, embarrassing. Even compliments from people they don’t like get edited. So much for robust discussion and debate. So much for fairness.
The Ghost of Goebbels smiles. The Ghost of Alexander Hamilton paces nervously. Hamilton, you recall, paid editors and writers to put all sorts of scandal and calumny against Thomas Jefferson into their newspapers, in 1796 and 1800. Dumas Malone wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Jefferson that fully half the American electorate was convinced that Jefferson was an atheist who hated religious freedom by election day, 1800. Still, Americans voted overwhelmingly for the Jefferson/Burr ticket. So Hamilton’s skullduggery didn’t pay off.
Alas, prior to the 12th Amendment, electors in the electoral college all had two votes, and the rule was that the winner became president, the 2nd place person became vice president. The electors of the Democratic Republican Party (the modern-day Democrats) each cast a vote for Jefferson for President, and a vote for Burr. In electoral votes, there was a tie for the presidency. The election went to the House of Representatives (see the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 3).
The new Congress had not been sworn in yet, so the old, Federalist-controlled Congress got to make the decision between the two top electoral college vote getters (same as today — the old congress decides). A history site at the City University of New York gives the short version:
Uneasy about both men, the Federalists in the House of Representatives took five days and 35 ballots to choose Jefferson over Burr. The deadlocked election between the two allies spawned the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1804, which led to separate Electoral College ballots for president and vice-president. Jefferson called the election the “Revolution of 1800.”
35 ballots in the House of Representatives, before Jefferson was chosen on the 36th! When an election goes to the House, each state gets one vote; the Representatives and Senators must decide how to cast that state’s vote. 34 times that ballot came up inconclusive between Jefferson and Burr, both men despised by the Federalists due to the poisoned waters from the campaign.
Alexander Hamilton knew both men well. Hamilton and Jefferson both served in Washington’s cabinet. He had been a friend of Jefferson and guest at Jefferson’s table for the great compromise that gave us the first U.S. bank and put the capital on the Potomac. Hamilton had worked closely with James Madison on policy and speeches in the Washington administration, an on the conspiracy to get the Constitution before that — Madison was Jefferson’s “campaign manager” in the election. Hamilton also had crossed paths with Aaron Burr in New York, where both men practiced law. Eventually, Hamilton persuaded a few Federalists to vote for Jefferson over Burr, and persuaded a few others to abstain from voting in their state delegations, throwing those delegations to Jefferson, too. Jefferson was thus elected president, and Burr became vice president. Alexander Hamilton had to eat crow to keep his worst enemy, Burr, from becoming president.
Hamilton’s agonies did not end there. After engineering Burr’s defeat in New York’s gubernatorial election in 1804, Burr claimed Hamilton had insulted Burr’s reputation. A string of letters failed to resolve the situation, and Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. On July 11, 1804, Burr mortally wounded Hamilton in a dawn duel at Weehawken, New Jersey (dueling being illegal in New York).
Alexander Hamilton, hero of the American Revolution, created much of the financial underpinnings of our modern economic system, with a central bank and a view looking toward promoting trade to benefit the citizens of the nation. He worked with Madison and Washington to created the Constitution, and worked with Jay and Madison to compose what became the Federalist Papers, originally a set of essays to persuade New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution, now a legal and history backgrounder in what the Constitution is and how it is supposed to work. Few important events in international or domestic affairs did not feature work by Hamilton, from Washington’s inauguration in 1789 to Hamilton’s death in 1804. When his country called, Hamilton responded.
Hamilton’s death creates one of the greatest “what if” questions in American history: What if Hamilton had lived, perhaps to serve as president himself? Opportunities lost do not knock again.
- Joanne B. Freeman on the 1800 election, at History Now
- PBS’s American Experience film on the Hamilton-Burr conflict, “The Duel” (good video for classroom use or supplement to classroom)