The History of Presidents Day

The history of Presidents Day is varied and filled with starts and stops. What began as two different days of observation were essentially wrapped up into one bundle, along with a few other notions.

You Moved My Birthday
The history of Presidents Day began the day George Washington was born. Originally this date was officially February 12, 1732, because both Great Britain and America were still using the Julian calendar. That date, however, was destined to move. In 1752, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted, an 11-day lag changed Washington's birthday to February 22. After Washington's death, a national holiday was declared to remember him on his "new" birthday.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, was also born in the month of February. Lincoln was born under the Gregorian calendar on February 12. Because Lincoln was also a well-loved president, after his assassination his birthday was also commemorated on a yearly basis by many American citizens. Though Lincoln's birthday was never made into a national holiday, it was observed in 30 states as a holiday.

In the late 1950s, Congress decided too many national and state holidays were being observed in the middle of the week, especially the birthdays of two presidents that were only a few days apart, thereby causing all manner of upheaval both at the national level and at the state level. To remedy this issue, the US government came up with a bill called the Unified Holidays Bill. Richard Nixon introduced in the bill in 1968, and Congress passed it into law in 1971. The bill called for the observance of most national holidays on Mondays, and consolidated Lincoln's and Washington's birthday celebrations into a single day called Presidents Day.

What Is Presidents Day?
Presidents Day is looked at differently by everyone. Some people, including President Nixon, consider it a celebration of all of the US presidents. Others consider it a celebration of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. Still others consider Presidents Day a celebration of only George Washington's birthday. In Alabama, the day honors Thomas Jefferson as well as Washington.

Since Washington was the father of our country, it makes sense to the majority of the people to give Washington a special day of remembrance. Each person celebrates Presidents Day in their own manner, regardless of how or what Congress initially hoped.

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