On September 2nd, citizens across this state celebrate Labor Day, a day that has been set aside to honor the working people of this nation. It is appropriate to look back at this holiday’s origins and reflect on what it means to our country.

    The celebration of Labor Day started as individual state celebrations beginning in 1882 in New York City by the "Noble Order of the Knights of Labor.” In 1887, New York, New Jersey, and Colorado approved state legal holidays. Other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days until it was first recognized on the national level as an official holiday by an Act of Congress in 1894. 

   In the earliest years of the holiday, there were parades, picnics and other recreational celebrations. The recreational aspects in the earliest years of the holiday set the tone for the next 125 years, as it is generally observed by families across the country as a day of recreation and rest.

    The first celebrations also included an emphasis on labor issues of the day, including child labor laws and better working conditions.  The first Labor Day was at the height of the Industrial Revolution when many Americans worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to put food on the table.  Some of these workers labored in unsafe working conditions, while children toiled in factories at a fraction of their adult counterpart’s wages. 

     It was clear from the beginning, that the Labor Day holiday was meant to provoke thought regarding the duties and obligations each of us have to each other, our community and families. That led to needed reforms. While our laws were reformed, American workers helped transition the nation to an industrial power unlike any other in the world.  

   Over the years, businesses have used the holiday to show their appreciation for their employees’ hard work. On a larger scale, the holiday recognizes our labor forces continued effort to strengthen and grow our economy. U.S. workers have been vital to providing our nation the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “We built this great Nation, built it to surpass the highest standards ever imagined, through the hard work of our people. I would match the American worker against any in the world. The people whose labor fuels our industry and economy are among the most productive anywhere.” I agree.

You May Contact Senator Hensley at

425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746

Nashville TN 37243


Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100

Fax 615-253-0231

855 Summertown Highway

Hohenwald TN 38462

Phone 931-796-2018

Cell Phone 931-212-8823

E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov