Statue of Peter J. McGuire in Arlington Cemetery.

Peter J. McGuire


Peter J. McGuire was a founder of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and was First Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor.  He is credited with proposing the first Labor Day celebration, which was held in New York in 1882.  It became a national holiday in 1894, when Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

McGuire's birthplace has been listed as Dublin, Philadelphia, or New York, depending on which source you read.  His final days were spent in Camden, NJ, and he is buried in Arlington Cemetery in Pennsauken, NJ.

Carpenters' Union History

The First Labor Day

The History of Labor Day

Read about Peter J. McGuire in ...

Bernhardt, Debra E. and Rachel Bernstein.  Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City.  New York: NYU Press, 2000.

O'Donnell, L.A.  Irish Voice and Organized Labor in America: A Biographical Study.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.  (Contributions in Labor Studies, No. 49)

Go to BJ's Camden Hall of Fame.

Copyright © 2001-2010 by BJ Swartz. Permission is granted to use the photo as long as it is not for profit and not for reproduction in a publication without credit. If you do use a photo, I'd just like to know and would appreciate it if you would send a donation to St. Paul's Food Basket. Thanks! 

BJ Swartz
Created 28 June 2003, updated September 3, 2010