The first Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882, in New York City, by the Central Labor Union of New York, the nation's first integratedmajor trade union. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military andU.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike,President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday wasrushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of NY and observed by many of thenation's trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers' Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of thelatter would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair, for which it had been observed to commemorate. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories hadmade it a statutory holiday.
The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strengthand esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches byprominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the AmericanFederation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.