May 1st International Workers Day

There was a push in the United States to have May 1 become our Labor Day. It did not happen but instead was pushed over to September. In 1885 at a convention of the American Federation of Labor a resolution passed calling for adoption of the eight-hour day effective May 1, 1886.  The slogan that told what the workingmen throughout the country sought at the time was “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what you will.”

That May 1 in Chicago a group including anarchists led a huge parade demanding the eight hour day. Workers walked out. After May 1, there was still great agitation among the workers that continued over onto the 2nd and the 3rd. On the latter date there was a conflict at a factory that remained opened with the working folk demanding the eight hour day breaking the windows of the factory and the police were called out resulting in a little todo.

This fracas caused the anarchists to call for a big rally on the night of the 4th in Haymarket Square. There speakers took turns demanding the eight-hour day and condemning police actions taken against them. The police marched in to break up the meeting. A  bomb was thrown into the middle of the police killing seven police officers, wounding over fifty others along with many civilians. The windy city was in an uproar.

Eight prominent anarchists or socialists were brought to trial for the murders even though some were not present at the time of explosion. One committed suicide and  four were hanged.  One as his last words stated: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.” They were all buried at the German Waldheim Cemetery where a Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument, shown above, was erected over their graves.

This became a cause célèbre throughout the world similar to what would happen years later with Sacco and Vanzetti. In 1889 the Marxists Internationalist Socialist Congress, the Second International, adopted the May 1 date as the day on which all workers should have a holiday.

There was a great fear in the United States that were it to be on May 1 it would be looked upon as having a connection with the Haymarket riot.  Democratic  President Grover Cleveland who had used U.S. troops against striking workmen held that same fear and believed  using May 1 “would strengthen socialist and anarchist movements that backed the May 1 commemoration around the globe. In 1887, he publicly supported the September Labor Day holiday as a less inflammatory alternative, formally adopting the date as a United States federal holiday through a law that he signed in 1894.

While most workers in the world celebrated May 1 we ended up with the September date. In the United States some groups would still have marches and get togethers on May 1 which made others leery and caused J. Edgar Hoover sleepless nights. Fearing a vacuum which would give prominence to the view that it was the true Labor Day, the United States at one time called May 1 “Loyalty Day” and then later gave it the name “Law Day.”

That fear still persists to this date but not so much because of the holiday but due mainly to ignorance. Many bandy about the word socialist in talking about the Democratic Party without the vaguest idea what the word meant to those who participated back in the late 1800s with socialist movements. It is that empty headed thinking where labels without thought are thrown out that is detrimental to our nation.

Just like we cannot pretend by giving it a different name that May 1 is not International Workers Day; so we cannot pretend that programs that help the least among us are the type advocated by true socialists and anarchists.


6 thoughts on “May 1st International Workers Day

  1. I agree in part. I agree completely with MSFREEH and GOK/.

    The Rule of Law is established within our federal government, our Republic, where majority does not rule, nor do the Courts rule, nor does anyone rule, except in consistent with our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence’s principles, which indeals areof equal treatment for all, not preferential treatment for some, fairness, due process, etcetera.

    Who are the people? We Americans who established our Republic, with a Federal and State Government, with a Constitution, we amend by States with 2/3 States favoring Amendments. All public, especially officers (judges, legislators, executives, soldiers, public health officers etc) swear to uphold and defend the Constituion. The Legislatures pass laws by majjority or supermajoority. The Legislators establish their own rules to enact.

    And the Courts job is simply to interpret the Constitution and to resolve disruptive disputes arising under it, judging fairly, protecting rights as elaborated in Constition’s or duly enacted statutes consistent with the Constitition.

    In America, all branches, all public employees’ power are Limited, restricted

    So, our people is We, from the Founders to Today. We have the processes to amend the Constitution. We have elected legislators we can appeal to change laws IStatutes), petition, or oust in the next election.

    We have an Executive Branch which has delegated powers given by the Constitution and are limited, by Statutes, Precedents, Judicial Decisions.

    Now two thinks leap out. Equality and Socialiism, Workers Rights versus Government Power.

    Look to the Catholic Church and beyond Day to Pope Leo X!!!’s Encyclical, Rerum Novarum. The pope specifiically addressed workers rights in 1889. Both Governments and Corporations, the Pope said, were morally obliged to pay fair, and not abuse workers, but treat them humanely. The Pope also emphasized the need of Governments and Corporations to care for the poor, beyond abuse of power and beyond the lust for cash, profit. Preference for the Poor is a moral duty.

    As far as the Statue for Workers is fine if it is not celebrating Terrorists who throw bombs.

    The Pope also and many Judeo-Chrisitian leaders warned against the looming horrors of Marxism’s versions of Socialism.

    Now, do not pretend, that only leftists lawyers know what Socialism is.

    Marxism demanded like leftists Democrats today demand is that private wealth be taken, private property be taken from some and distributed to others. That’s an abhorrent aberration. Taxing fair is moral. Government has limited powers, but always at the service of public to act fairly in everything it does. No Patronage.

    Pope Leo X111 explicitly recognized the individual’s right to Private Property

    I have worked as a union laborer man . . . .Not all workers, e.g. police, sole practioners, small businessmen, are enthralled by Socialist-Marxist views today. I remember workers were happy when they got off on Saturday afternoons.

    Finally, remember yesterday’s liberalism was more akin to today’s Conservatism that respects for life itself is a key to all morality, and individuals inherent rights to life, liberty, due process, protection of property, fair justice procedures, and the right to work hard and invent light bulbs or efficient automobiles.

    All those in the late 19th Century, who were not anarchists, Marxists, baby-born Commies to become, were wary of the excessive, abusive, violent power of Wobblies, Commies=coming, etcetera.

    Some may not know what Socialism is, but those who lived in the early decades of the Twentieth Century certainly knew Its Evils.

    Again, I say, today’s liberalism is akin to secularistic, atheistic, anti-life socialism, which is akin to Marxism which is akin to Stalinistic Communism, in the extreme, which is akin, a hand in glove, with Nazism.

    Long before Orwell’s 1984, men and women saw the evil of Big Brother, Big Government, Big Socialistic States encroaching on individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, the right to acquire and hold and defend private property, the right of the family, and the right of parents to raise families in accordance with their own consciences, not in accordance with governmental leftists’ dictates.

    Reagan’s Law and Order is the order of today.

    1. WMC, thank you for expressing these thoughts so well. The more I read on topics related to the Constitution and law, the more I realize I have to learn in order to understand it fully — and the more I realize students of today need lots of exposure to such topics (and may NEVER get it!).

      Well, off to Hillsdale College Online I go!

  2. Matt

    Former Catholic priest Charlie Sullivan just sent this today.

    Yes Charlie and Pauline are solutionarys.

    We Were There!

    Charles/Pauline Sullivan

    Washington DC

    I think there were three movements that resulted in our arrests in May Day. They were the Vatican Council in the early sixties, the civil rights movement and, of course, the anti-war movement. Charlie was first stationed as a priest in Demopolis, Alabama, which is very near Selma and it was in 1966 right after the March. Pauline was a stationed as a nun at St. Stephen’s school which was In “the Reservation” in Minneapolis. Pauline played a role in the start-up of the American Indian Movement.

    When they met in 1969, Charlie was working on a revolution in the Catholic Church. Pauline replied that she was interested in the “other” revolution—the revolution in the world!

    In 1970, they left Minnesota in a $400 VW van (that broke down a lot) to seek their place in the revolution. They lived in the van for over a year, travelling to Mexico and Canada as well as involved in demonstrations throughout the United State.

    They also visited people like Dorothy Day. This visit in New York City was in early September, 1971, because we had to return to DC for our May Day trials. While waiting for our trials, we lobbied against the military draft and at night in our van parked on Capitol Hill, we listened to the VW radio report on the uprising at Attica.

    We had briefly been involved in Texas in our travels, but decided then to return to San Antonio and get totally immersed in prison reform. We started in 1972 with a bus service for families to visit their loved ones in the prison system and started organizing these families on the buses into an organization we called CURE.

    In 1974, we moved to Austin and CURE became a statewide organization. In 1985, we moved to Washington and expanded CURE nationally. In 2001, we had our first international conference and now have a strong presence in Africa and Asia.

    Pauline was right in that our commitment to revolution in the world and, as you can see, started in a way with May Day and still continues even though we are in our eighties. Charlie

    PS. We are still very Catholic, but not revolutionary Catholics. We have enough to keep us busy with prison reforms!

    We are ever reminded about the quote from George Bernard Shaw ” When I die, I want to be all used up!”

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