Above, images from the 1894 Pullman strike when Grover Cleveland sent the army against American workers. Below, Paul Krugman on the origin of Labor Day. (Images via History Matters, Axia Consultants, and Covering Delta.)
Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.