Tuesday, May 1, 2007

On May 1, ...

... 1867 (140 years ago today), Illinois' 8-hour law, the 1st in the United States, took effect. When Chicago employers resisted -- as detailed in James Green's Death in the Haymarket -- their employees walked out, shutting down many industries. But within a week police and troops broke the strike, and long workdays resumed in spite of the new law. Nearly 2 decades later, on May 1, 1886, tens of thousands marched for the 8-hour-day throughout the country, with greater success. May 1 remains International Workers' Day in much of the world. This is not the case in the United States -- amid the Cold War in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the date Law Day or Loyalty Day.
... 2007 (today), marks yet another May Day holiday, called Lá Bealtaine in Gaelic, and a fixture on the Celtic calendar for centuries. The day marks the beginning of the light half of the year, and traditionally was marked by bonfires on the eve and by flower-garlanded May bushes and dancing on the day. (circa 1903 photo of schoolgirls 'round a Maypole from the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0000348, courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, available via Library of Congress).

No comments: