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Labor Day was born out of struggle from the very beginning. Railroad workers in Pullman, Ill., distraught over wage cuts and lay-offs during the 1893 depression, went on strike, boycotted Pullman railroad cars and eventually rioted. President Grover Cleveland was immediately under pressure from railroad executives and declared the strike an illegal act. Twelve-thousand troops were deployed to break the strike and two men lost their lives in the clash. The legislation to make Labor Day and official holiday arrived for Cleveland's signature six days later. Cleveland signed, thinking of the 1864 election year. The conciliatory gesture was brushed aside - laborers still resented Cleveland's actions and the Democratic party abandoned the President for William Jennings Bryan as their next candidate.
Credit: NewsHour with Jim Lehrer/PBS