Washington's Birthday or Presidents' Day?
The American holiday of Presidents' Day was originally established in 1885 in recognition of the first President of the United States, George Washington. It was officially called Washington's Birthday and observed as a federal holiday on February 22nd, Washington's actual day of birth. Washington's Birthday was the first federal holiday celebrating the life of an individual American, joining only four national bank holidays – Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving.
It became popularly known as Presidents' Day after it was moved by the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act (82 Stat. 250) in order to create more three day weekends for American workers and increase retail and tourism revenue.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, was born on February 12, 1809. As his birthday was already a holiday in some states (Illinois), the Act was also said to have the intent to combine the celebration of both President Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, giving recognition to two of America's most famous statesmen.
In popular culture, Presidents' Day has shifted in from its origin of recognizing only Washington's birthday and now is commonly known as a day to recognize the lives of American presidents generally, and to take advantage of retail sales. However, the federal government has remained true to the original incarnation of the holiday, with the third Monday in February still listed on official calendars as Washington’s Birthday.
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Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from 1861 until his assassination by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. President Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War and is arguably most well-known for abolishing slavery, as well as preserving the Union and strengthening the federal government.
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Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln had a profound impact on the history of the United States. Be sure to start your presidential research with HeinOnline. In honor of Presidents' Day and the 45 presidents, we are now offering a risk-free trial of any HeinOnline database for 45 days!
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