Learning About Presidents Day

Posted by on Feb 16, 2024 in Current Events, Stuff You Should Know

Each year on the third Monday in February, the United States celebrates Presidents’ Day. This holiday’s history began in 1885. That’s when Congress established February 22 as a day off for all federal government workers to honor George Washington’s birthday. 

The Holiday’s History 

This was the first federal holiday created to honor an individual’s birth date. It’s no surprise that Washington, a hero of the American Revolution and the nation’s first president, was honored in this way. But why did the original holiday of February 22 move to its modern placement of the third Monday in February? 

To understand, you need to know that another famous U.S. president also has a birthday in February. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president who led the nation during the Civil War, was born on February 12. In 1971, Congress moved the federal holiday so that it would fall between Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays. The new holiday would be every third Monday in February. They then renamed the holiday Presidents’ Day

The Presidents and The People’s House 

There have been 46 United States presidents. You can learn more about them and the challenges they faced by exploring the “Presidents” section of the White House website. 

The oval office at the White House in Washington DC
The Oval Office of the White House

Every president except George Washington has been lucky enough to live in the White House. But did you know that modern presidents have also spent some time at the Camp David presidential retreat? It is a second residence that the president and his family can use when they want to get away from Washington, D.C. You can visit “The Grounds” section of the White House website to learn more about the White House, Camp David, and other important presidential places. 

Presidential Libraries 

Serving as president is a history-making job. And when the past president steps down, preserving the history of that administration is very important. That is why the National Archives and Records Administration oversees the Presidential Libraries. Each one is part archive and part museum.  Currently there are fifteen Presidential Libraries, one for every administration since Herbert Hoover. Franklin Roosevelt established this tradition when he donated his personal and presidential documents to the federal government in 1939. These Libraries also have websites where you can see many digital exhibits and some historical documents from the specific president’s time in the White House.  

Dig Deeper In 2017, the Obama Foundation chose to do something unique for its Presidential Library. Do some research and find out what was announced.