Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day was started as the celebration of George Washington‘s birthday and because of Congress passing laws on the dates of national holidays, George Washington‘s birthday was assigned as the Monday of the third week in February. The holiday came to symbolize an all-inclusive holidays for all the Presidents ever to serve.

The birth date of George Washington is debated due to the calendar change that took place since his birth in 1732 to present day. According to records, he was born on February 11th but in the modern day calendar, it would fall on February 22nd. Thus, when the celebrations began, some celebrated it on the 11th while others did on the 22nd. His birthday is now officially marked as February 22, 1732.

By the early 19th century, Washington‘s Birthday had become a outright national holiday. Large balls were held that day, with many speeches and receptions given by very prominent public figures. Even the taverns celebrated in the merriment of formal festivities.

Abraham Lincoln came in the 19th century, born on February 12th and brought with him a great reputation. His contribution to America and his assassination brought him to be honored on his birthday for the first time in 1865, a year after his assassination.

Congress did not immediately make Lincoln‘s birthday a national holiday. Instead, it was made a legal holiday in several states. Congress never did take action on it.

In 1968, legislation (HR 15951) was passed, affecting several federal holidays. One of these was moving Washington‘s Birthday to the third Monday of every February. This not only systemized the holiday, but gave federal workers some more three day weekends rather than days off in the middle of the week.

The holiday is still known as Washington‘s birthday according to the Office of Personal Management. Yet, the day has culturally changed to be all-inclusive to any President who has served the United States of America.

The honoring of his birth date began in 1782, while the American Revolution was still being waged. They commemorated his generalship, which if was missing; there might not be any presidency. The Virginia Gazette reported that day, Tuesday last being the birthday of his Excellency, General Washington, our illustrious Commander-in-Chief, the same was commemorated here with the utmost demonstrations of joy.” He was fifty years old that day.

Again there was a celebration in 1783, this time a large banquet in New York, but the true celebrations began in 1784. By this time the British troops had cleared out and the first recorded celebration of Washington‘s Birthday took place.

Even during his terms of presidency, he was honored during his birthday. By the time of his death in 1799, almost every town across the new United States of America celebrated this day. There was a banquet or ball in every fashion in his remembrance.

Lincoln also had a memorable life including his term of Presidency during the Civil War. It was a stressful time for the entire country when the south seceded from the North. There was lots of tension that built up to this great bloody war.

Lincoln had to lead the country during the time of greatest turmoil within the United States, having the ability and the determination to unify the country once again.

His signing of the Emancipation of Proclamation may have been his most memorable achievement. He turned the attention from simply unifying the country to also freeing the slaves. This caused great uproar in both the North and the South, but Lincoln had a steadfast determination in what he believed in.

Lincoln displayed the characteristics that are valued so much in not only a President but a human being. He was modest, down-to-earth and always honest, thus earning him the nickname, ‘Honest Abe’. He was able to display himself with the greatest of values.

These two great men spurred the creation of the federal holiday, now commonly known as President’s Day. This is an important day that commemorates what all the leaders of this great nation have done for us.


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