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Celebrating Presidents' Day

by River Seiler on 2023-02-20T08:00:00-06:00 in U.S. History since 1877, U.S. History to 1877 | 0 Comments

Hi all,

This President's Day, February 20th, let's take a look at some biographies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Are we celebrating Presidents' Day or Washington's Birthday?

George Washington, our first president, died in 1799. After Washington's death, his birthday was informally celebrated in the United States.

On January 31, 1879, Washington's birthday became a federally recognized holiday. Starting in 1896, Washington's birthday was celebrated by a U.S. Senator reading Washington's Farewell Address on February 22nd.

On June 28, 1968, we moved from celebrating Washington's birthday on February 22nd, his actual birthday, to the third Monday of February. This was part of the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" - a law to provide uniform annual observances of holidays on Mondays. 

In the 1980s, campaigns for holiday sales terming the holiday "Presidents' Day" popularized the term and largely separated the holiday from it's original meaning.

For more information, you can watch George Washington's Mount Vernon's video on the topic on YouTube!

(The information in this segment largely comes from George Washington's Mount Vernon article "'Presidents' Day'? The Truth Behind the Holiday".)

Where does Lincoln come in?

The term "Presidents' Day" was popularized by ad campaigns for holiday sales, but it also became popular because Abraham Lincoln's birthday is also in February. With Lincoln's birthday being February 12th and Washington's February 22nd, Presidents' Day often falls closer to Washington's actual birthday, but usually bridges the gap between the two dates.

Holidays often stray from their original purpose, as is the case with Presidents' Day, but there's room to honor both Washington and Lincoln on this holiday.

Biographies of Washington


Biographies of Lincoln


You can learn more about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on our libguide on U.S. History to 1877. You can learn more about Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War from our libguide on the American Civil War. There are a lot of great resources for you to check out in those guides!

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the Library again soon!

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