History of Presidents’ Day saw change in date and observances

Luliia Porfireva and Luliia Porfireva

Photo Credit: Ehistory.osu.edu[/caption]

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.

Photo Credit: Mountvernon.org