The more things change the more they stay the same. In 1789 the National Constituent Assembly in France, with the help of the Marquis de Lafayette (yes that Lafayette) and chief revolutionary theorist Abbe Sieyes, drafted into law the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. It was a statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a great influence on the concepts of individual liberty and democracy in Europe and the world.
Shortly thereafter, in 1791 there was another document authored in response -The Declaration of the Rights of Women and of the Female Citizen. It was written by Olympe de Gouges, who was concerned that women were being left behind by the Revolution. Unfortunately, she ended up on the losing side in the internal fighting and though the old order had been turned upside down, it didn’t extend that far. She, like many other players in the Revolution, ended up executed as the Revolution fed on itself. And women are still fighting for equality today.
In 1882 the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City. Labor movements have endured opposition as well over the years. Even a globalist like President Wilson was resistant to both women’s rights and labor union activity and looped both into his support for the first Red Scare while in office (2012-2020). Today we often forget the significance of Labor Day and the improvements in working conditions that unions brought.
An example of this is OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Prior to that legislation, working conditions were much more dangerous. An example is the Theatre Royal fire in Exeter, UK. A fire broke out during a performance, killing 186 people in 1887. Contrast that to the Great London Fire of 1666, which ended on this date. Over 10,000 buildings were destroyed, but reportedly only 6 people were killed. Of course, there were significantly fewer people in London that long ago, but at least the buildings were not overfilled enabling such conflagrations to occur with deadly effects. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 (which caused 146 deaths) was even worse because the place was a factory and the outer doors had been locked.
Advocating for workers’ rights and women’s rights is a constant need and one we should remember on this Labor Day.