For those workers who get this coming Monday off, enjoy it. But Monday is not actually Presidents’ Day.
Presidents’ Day actually resulted from the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill in 1968. That moved the celebration of a number of federal holidays to Mondays, in order to give workers a series of long weekends throughout the year.
During the debate on the holiday bill, the idea came up that President Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays be combined into one day, and renamed Presidents’ Day. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Congress rejected the proposal. All things are as they were.
Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays were only ten days apart (Lincoln’s is Feb. 12, and Washington is Feb. 22), so Presidents’ Day became accepted as the name. Also, it gave needy merchants the extra opportunity to offer incredible savings on cars and mattresses. But the holiday’s official name remains Washington’s Birthday.
President Washington and our Founding Fathers would not be all that pleased with our knowledge of past presidents. According to Daniel Burnett of the Longview News-Journal, a survey reported that only 34 percent of college seniors from elite institutions knew Washington was the general at the Battle of Yorktown.
Also, more than a quarter did not know that John Adams was our second president. Just 23 percent of students were aware that James Madison was the “Father of the Constitution.”
Dontknowmuch.com mentions that President Lincoln was not the featured speaker when he delivered his Gettysburg Address for the dedication of a cemetery to those who died at Gettysburg. His speech lasted about two and a half minutes.
The site also points out that Washington’s Birthday can never actually land on Washington’s real birthday of Feb. 22 because the latest it can fall is on Feb. 21.