Today is, in the United States, “President's Day.” Did you know that this was originally celebrated as “Washington’s Birthday"?
Established in 1885 as a Federal holiday, it was first celebrated on February 22, Washington’s real birthday. It was also the first Federal holiday honoring an American citizen.
In 1971, the date changed to the third Monday in February, after the creation of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
The Act also combined Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in some states. The combining of these two days gave equal recognition to two of America's most famous men.
Since then the day has become known as President's Day and also honors other presidents born during February, including Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison. It is popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all US Presidents.
Another benefit of the act was the creation of more three-day weekends as it moved Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day from their fixed dates to Mondays.
Here are some fun facts on George Washington, the first US President:
- Washington was the only president to have been unanimously elected by the Electoral College, receiving all 69 votes in the 1789 and 1792 elections. He was also the only president that never represented a political party.
- He was the only president to personally lead an army in battle as Commander-in-Chief.
- Washington's false wooden teeth is a myth. While he lost most of his teeth by the time he was president, he wore multiple sets of dentures multiple made of ivory, gold and lead.
- Washington lived in New York, Philadelphia and on his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia; the only president who did not live in Washington, DC.
- He was the only one of America’s founding fathers to free all of his 124 slaves.
Do you have any presidential roots in your family tree? Have a look here at US President Barack Obama's family tree. Let us know if you have any leaders in your family history, or links to any of the US presidents, past and present in the comments below!