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What is Labour Day?

What is Labour Day? Explain Haymarket Affair

Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

International Labour Day or May Day is celebrated to finish the struggle as well as to promote the requirement of eight-hour work day. Earlier the working condition of the laborer was very severe and working hours was 10 to 16 hour a day even in the unsafe conditions. Deaths, injuries and other dreadful conditions of the workers were very common at the workplace during the 1860’s and working people were very agitated throughout the workday until the 8-hour workday was declared.

The rising death of the working class people (men, women and children) in many working industries, required to raise the voice for the safety of the working group people by decreasing their working hours in the industries. After the lots of efforts made by the workers and socialists, eight-hours was declared as the legal time for the workers in the national convention at Chicago in 1884 by the American Federation of Labor.

Many people have sacrificed their lives during the Haymarket Massacre which was held in the Chicago during the strike of workers. May Day is celebrated to commemorate the event of Haymarket Massacre as well as to promote the social and economic achievements of the working group people.

Haymarket affair

The Haymarket affair (also known as the Haymarket massacre, Haymarket riot, or Haymarket Square riot) was the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on May 4, 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day, the day after police killed eight workers. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at the police as they acted to disperse the meeting, and the bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians; dozens of others were wounded.

Historian Yohuru Williams gives a crash course on a riot in Chicago’s Haymarket Square that changed the labor movement in the United States.

In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy. The evidence was that one of the defendants may have built the bomb, but none of those on trial had thrown it. Seven were sentenced to death and one to a term of 15 years in prison. Illinois governor Richard J. Oglesby commuted two of the sentences to terms of life in prison; another committed suicide in jail rather than face the gallows. The other four were hanged on November 11, 1887. In 1893, Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining defendants and criticized the trial.

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