Celebrating Presidential Legacy – The Origins Of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day, is a federal holiday commemorates President George Washington’s birthday and also celebrates each of the 46 United States Presidents. 

1 min read

Presidents’ Day is one of 11 holidays Congress established, including Labor Day and Thanksgiving, celebrated on the third Monday of February every year. While Congress declared the holiday, the federal holiday only applies to the government and the District of Columbia. This means each state had to decide whether or not to legally recognize and celebrate it as a chosen holiday. 

According to the Legislative Archives, George Washington’s birthday was technically on February 11, 1731, on the Julian calendar in colonial Virginia. Twenty-one years later, the British colonies alternated to the Gregorian calendar. As a result, Washington’s birthday is now recorded as February 22, 1732, a year and 11 days later than before.

On February 22, 1832, to celebrate 100 years since his birth, Congress initiated a Joint Committee to organize the event, chaired by a member of the Senate, Henry Clay, and a member of the House, Philemon Thomas. 

It wasn’t until January of 1879 that President Rutherford B. Hayes and Congresses made February 22nd a holiday for federal employees in DC, with few employees being paid for their day off.

Six years later, this difference was resolved by Congress’s legislation to require all federal holidays to be paid and applicable for all federal employees, even out of the DC area. Referring to it as “Presidents’ Day” was likely due to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th, 1809. 

However, the decision to celebrate on the third Monday of February came over a century later, with Congress’s “Monday Holiday Law,” establishing uniformity on certain public holidays.

According to the Archives, this decision was to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation,” creating more nationally recognized 3-day holidays for workers.

Truman’s Little White House celebrated 2024 Presidents’ Day with a picnic, with hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hotdogs from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. The event was open to the public, for anyone who purchased a $10 ticket for entry.

Princess McKey

Princess McKey, a dynamic film and content creator from Howard University's School of Communications, specializes in Television and Film. Experienced in independent student films, both behind and in front of the camera, I am deeply committed to the art of storytelling, ensuring active involvement from conception to completion of productions

Leave a Reply