Sunday, September 13, 2015
Sunday, September 6, 2015
No One Really Knows Who Invented It
As the legend goes, young carpenter Peter McGuire stood before the New York Central Labor Union in May 1882 proclaiming his plan to honor all workers with a parade through the city. But another union worker, the similarly named machinist Matthew Maguire, is also credited with proposing a day off for laborers. A New Jersey newspaper published an opinion article touting Maguire as the Father of Labor Day, but only after the day became a national holiday in 1894.
The Holiday Marks the End of Hot-Dog Season
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, during "hot dog season," which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans consume roughly 7 billion hot dogs, or about 818 hot dogs every second. That total is thanks in large part to another holiday, Independence Day.
Union Membership Is at a 60-Year Low
Labor unions aren't what they used to be. In the 1950s, at the height of union participation in the U.S., more than a third of all American workers belonged to unions. Participation has waned for decades, which has weakened many unions across the country. Remember the Wisconsin public employees who fought Republican Governor Scott Walker earlier this year over collective-bargaining rights? Well, they lost most of those rights.
A Fire Ignited the Labor Movement
The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 took the lives of 136 people in just 18 minutes. Though the factory owners were indicted on charges of manslaughter, they were later acquitted and actually profited from insurance claims. The tragic blaze — likely caused by a cigarette — did, however, raise awareness of poor working conditions at the factory and other warehouses like it, prompting the start of the labor movement and a call for safer work environments.
President Cleveland Didn't Like Unions
Although President Grover Cleveland signed the 1894 law that made Labor Day a federal holiday, he did so with political motives in mind. The President was concerned only with the fact that the strike had spread to other states, disrupting mail service and interstate commerce. Mindful of his future re-election campaign, made appeasement a top priority, so labor legislation was rushed through Congress and the bill passed just six days after the strike's end.
Oregon Was the First State to Declare Labor Day a Holiday
Oregon was the first state to pass a law declaring Labor Day a state holiday on Feb. 21, 1887, giving the state's workers a free pass to not come in that day. However, the Beaver State inexplicably placed the holiday on the first Saturday in June. Thankfully, when Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York each made Labor Day an official holiday in 1887, they chose to observe it on a weekday, giving workers the extra-long weekend we still enjoy to this day.
Labor Day's Origins Are Canadian
Following labor disputes in Toronto, the first worker parades occurred in 1872. Soon after, anti–labor union laws were repealed. A decade later, union activist Peter McGuire, whom some call the founder of our American Labor Day, spoke at a Canadian labor festival in 1882 and was so impressed that he proposed the idea of a workers' national holiday to a New York labor union later that same year.
Labor Day Was Almost May 1
In 1884, the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared that by May 1, 1886, all employers institute an eight-hour workday. When that proclamation failed to come to fruition, workers moved to strike, sparking the brutal Haymarket Riot in Chicago. Years later in 1894, fearing the tainted history of that date would continually lead to radical movements commemorating the riots, President Grover Cleveland decided to follow the lead of several states and make the first Monday in September the official holiday for laborers.
The Rule 'No White After Labor Day' Has Historical Roots
Historians think this maxim stems from class divisions at the turn of the century when lightweight clothes were a symbol of the leisure classes. While there's a practical reason for the rule — white clothes dirty easily thus making them ill-suited for heavy autumn rains and winter slush — those who carried the rule through the decades had a less than practical reason for doing so. Indeed, as the years went by, traditionalists and nouveau riche alike continued to eschew winter whites throughout the 20th century in order to remain acceptable in high society.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
The story of the four More children, Ellen, Jasper, Richard, and Mary, is a tragic one. They were all baptized in the parish of Shipton, Shropshire, England to Samuel and Katherine More, cousins from a wealthy and prominent family that had had their marriage prearranged. It was not a happy marriage, and Katherine had a longstanding but secret extramarital affair with a neighbor by the name of Jacob Blakeway. Samuel began working in London as secretary to Lord Edward Zouche, privy councillor, diplomat and courtier. Over the next four years, Katherine bore four children. At some point, Samuel More began to notice a resemblance between "his" children, and Jacob Blakeway whom he had come to suspect was with his wife. When he realized his four children were not actually "his", but were bastards, he and his wife engaged in a bitter divorce in 1616 and Samuel ended up getting custody of the children he claimed were not his. By a deed dated 20 April 1616, Samuel cut the entail on the Larden estate to prevent any of the children from inheriting. During the long court battle, Samuel would deny that he was the father of the children borne by his wife, Katherine, and stated them to be children of the adulterous relationship. Katherine did not deny her relationship with Jacob, stating there was a former betrothal contract with him, and therefore he was her true husband. This would have made her marriage to Samuel invalid. Samuel quotes her words in his declaration, "though she could not sufficiently prove by witnesses yet it was all one before god as she sayed".
In 1616, when Samuel More accused his wife of adultery and, at the direction of his father, Richard, they devised a plan to rid himself of Katherine and the children. Samuel went to his employer and a More family friend, Lord Zouche, Lord President of the Council of Wales, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Privy Counselor, to draw up a plan for the disposition of the children. Zouche had been a member of the Virginia Company and in 1617 he invested £100 in an expedition to the Colony of Virginia, which is where the Mayflower was supposed to have landed. It was his actions that were instrumental in putting the More children on the Mayflower. (At that time, children were routinely rounded up from the streets of London or taken from poor families receiving church relief to be used as labourers in the colonies.) Katherine engaged in a struggle to take her children back. Any legal objections to the involuntary transportation of the children were over-ridden by the Privy Council, namely, Lord Zouche. There were at least twelve actions recorded between December 1619 and 8 July 1620, when it was finally dismissed. Most people thought it a death sentence and, indeed, many did not survive either the voyage or the harsh climate, disease and scarcity of fresh food for which they were ill-prepared.
Samuel promptly paid for the children to be shipped off to America with a band of "honest and religious" Separatists. The four children, aged 4 to 8 years old, were placed into the households of some of the most prominent Pilgrims. Richard and Mary More were placed with Elder William Brewster. Jasper was placed with Governor John Carver. And Ellen was placed with Edward Winslow. Within several weeks of the More children’s arrival in London, and without their mother Katherine More’s knowledge or approval, they were placed in the care of others on the Mayflower, bound for New England.
After the Mayflower sailed, Katherine made another attempt to challenge the decision through the courts. It was this legal action in early 1622 before Chief Justice James Ley which led to the statement from Samuel explaining where he sent the children and why, the historical evidence for Richard More's early history.
The voyage was rough on the young and presumably quite traumatized children. Only Richard survived the first winter at Plymouth. Jasper More died in December while the Pilgrims were still exploring Cape Cod trying to find a place to settle, and Ellen and Mary More died sometime likely between January and March 1621.
Richard More was still living with the Brewsters in 1627. He married Christian Hunter in 1636 in Plymouth, and moved very shortly thereafter to Salem. Richard More became a seaman and ship captain, and made trips to England, Nova Scotia, West Indies, Manhattan, and Virginia. In February and March 1642/3, he joined the church at Salem and baptized his children there.
His wife Christian died on 18 March 1676, at the age of 60. Richard More then married to Mrs. Jane Crumpton; she died in October 1686 at Salem, aged 55. In 1688, the Salem Church recorded: "Old Captain More having been for many years under suspicion and common fame of lasciviousness, and some degree at least of inconstancy ... but for want of proof we could go no further. He was at last left to himself so far as that he was convicted before justices of peace by three witnesses of gross unchastity with another man's wife and was censured by them." Richard More died sometime between 1693 and 1696 at Salem, living just long enough to have witnessed the Salem Witchcraft paranoia of 1692.