Originally, the birthdays of two notorious presidents of the United States were recognized during the month of February, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th day of the month, and George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd day of the month.
Although Lincoln’s birthday was never officially established as a national holiday, both, Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays were celebrated separately as holidays in many states and by the school system for many decades.
The enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, established the celebration of certain holidays on Mondays, stretching the weekend to a 3-day holiday celebration. By way of this act, Washington’s Birthday holiday was changed from February 22, to the third Monday of February.
The Washington-Lincoln Recognition Act of 2005 was created to recognize and commemorate both birthdays. Today, the holiday is recognized as President’s Day, and commemorates all presidents of the United States.
Both, President Washington and Lincoln deserve recognition for their commitment and leadership, because both men defended the rights and freedom of America.
There were similarities and disparities between these two figures; for instance, Washington was born to an elite family who owned prime land granted to his family by Henry VIII, and many slaves. He was home schooled and well educated. Lincoln on the other hand, was born to a struggling family of little resources. His mother died when he was a child and he was raised by his father in the wilderness of the western frontier, specifically, Indiana. Despite his imitations, he managed to obtain the knowledge, ability and skills to serve for eight years in the Illinois legislature before becoming a presidential nominee.
Lincoln was a leader but, was conscious about his lack of education. He knew that he was not the sharpest tool in the shed. His own words made this very clear: "I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families, second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks.... My father ... removed from Kentucky to ... Indiana, in my eighth year.... It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.... Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher ... but that was all."
Both, Washington and Lincoln were pioneers who contributed to the shaping of America and the American government. Washington was an accomplished gentleman, a founding father who fought in many wars, including the French, and the American Indian wars, and later a leader in the American Revolution, which ultimately, led to the freedom of America from foreign forces.
Washington served two terms and contributed to the establishment of the colonies, to the formation of a strong affluent government, and presided over the convention that drafted the American Constitution.
Lincoln was a leader and defender of the civil rights; he assumed office during America’s bloodies battle – the American civil war, which ended with the fall of the confederate army in 1865.
Lincoln took the first step to end slavery. He ordered the abolition of slavery through his emancipation proclamation of 1863. This first step, led to the enactment the thirteenth amendment – on Dec. 6, 1865. This initiative cost Lincoln his life – on April 14, 1865, he was assassinated by John Wilkes, a confederate who opposed his views.
Today, President’s day is celebrated widely in the retail industry. White sales have extended from January to February, and promotional merchandise is no longer limited to linen and household items. Furniture, appliances and vehicle sales are also a part of the holiday promotion – An incentive to stimulate the economy.