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John Patterson Green: (1845-1940) Ohio Congressman and Father of Labor Day

John Green was born on April 2, 1845 in Newberne, North Carolina. His family moved to Cleveland in 1857, in 1859 John left school to help support his family, but returned to Central High School from 1866 to 1869.  In 1870 Green graduated from Union Law School and moved to South Carolina where he was admitted to the bar.

In 1872 Green returned to Cleveland and was elected Republican justice of the peace, the first black elected to office in Cleveland, which he held for 9 years. In 1881 he was elected to Ohio House of Representatives. In 1890 he was elected to the Ohio Legislature and while there he introduced the bill that established Labor Day as a state holiday.  The U.S. Congress made it a national holiday in 1894.

In 1892 Green was elected to the Ohio senate (another first black member).  In 1897 Green was appointed to the newly created position of U.S. postage stamp agent. He served briefly as the acting superintendent of finance in the Post Office Dept. before leaving government service in 1906 to resume his law practice in Cleveland.

Green was the author of several books and articles which included: Recollections of the Carolinas (1881); his autobiography, Fact Stranger Than Fiction (1920); and articles for Afro-American News Syndicate.  John P. Green died on September 1, 1940 in Cleveland and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Text taken from The Cleveland Encyclopedia of History


Further Reading:

John P. Green, Fact Stranger than Fiction (Electronic Edition Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina).