Howard Zinn, author of the People’s History of the United States, reviews the history of the abolitionists and the Vietnam War to encourage a new generation of resistance against the Iraq occupation and the war at home.
Labor Day was established more than a century ago.
It was a time of tremendous unrest in America, Grover Cleveland was president, railroad workers organized by Eugene V. Debs were leading a nationwide strike against George Pullman. Pressured by the railroad executive, president Grover Cleveland declared the strike a federal crime and called out 12,000 troops.
U.S. deputy marshals fired on protesters near Chicago. The strike was over, and Cleveland tried to win the labor vote in his re-election by signing off on a congressional bill establishing Labor Day.
He was not reelected.
In 1898, Samuel Gompers head of the American federation of labor called it, “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”
But according to the Encyclopedia of the American left, Gompers and the A.F.L. elevated Labor Day as the preferred holiday of the American House of Labor over May Day, he criticized May Day for its ties to anarchists and socialist politics.
Today we’re going to turn first to Howard Zinn. He wrote “People’s History of The United States.” He spoke in August in Provincetown on Cape Cod. He talks about Iraq, about labor and the people’s history of the United States.
- Howard Zinn, historian speaking in Provincetown, Massachusetts in August.