Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. This year Presidents’ Day falls on February 18th. In different states the name is different. It may also be known as Washington’s Birthday or Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday.
The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22, 1732. According to the Julian calendar which was used at the time of Washington’s birth, the actual date is Feb. 11 but was adjusted to Feb. 22 when the Gregorian calendar came into use.
Washington led the American Continental Army to victory over the British in 1783. In 1787 he presided over the writing of the U.S. Constitution, and once it was ratified, he became the unanimous choice to be the first president of the United States. His first term as president was from 1789 to 1793 and his second term from 1793 to 1797. Washington is often seen as a father of the United States, and is a well-known name in American history.
Then Abraham Lincoln became 16th president of the US. As president he guided his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis — the American Civil War (1861–1865) — after 11 of 15 Southern slaveholding states seceded from the United States to form the Confederate States of America. The first time his birthday had formal observance was only year after his assassination when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address. While Lincoln’s birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington’s, it did become a legal holiday in several states.
Washington’s birthday first became a federal holiday in 1879, but it was only observed in the District of Columbia until it was expanded to the whole country in 1885. In 1968 Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” which moved the annual observances of certain federal holidays to Mondays and included a provision to combine the states’ observance of Lincoln’s birthday with Washington’s.
This year February 18th is a day for honoring not only Washington and Lincoln but also other men who have served as president.
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