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President's Day 2018

Feb 18, 2018

On the third Monday of February, Americans celebrate Presidents' Day, when Americans honor all their national leaders, past and present. The Day was originally meant to honor the First President, and arguably the country's most influential founder, George Washington, who was born on February 22, 1732. The date became an annual, unofficial day of remembrance in the year 1800, the year after President Washington died.It finally became a federal holiday in 1885.

Since then, about half the States have modified the observance to include the celebration of another President. On this day, about half the U.S. states also commemorate the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. It is a fitting choice.

President George Washington
President George Washington

Born on February 12, 1809, Lincoln, like Washington, was enormously influential in the foundation and development of the United States. Washington led the rebel army that won the country's independence from the British Crown, put the nation on a sound financial footing and led the young United States of America through the initial labor pains that quickly gave birth to a stable, democratic, and lawful government. By leaving office voluntarily after two four-year terms, and by ensuring the peaceful transfer of power to the leader elected to succeed him, George Washington set an important precedent for all future presidents.

Lincoln, on the other hand, was the glue that held together a country torn by a vicious civil war, and set the stage for a peace-time shift in power distribution between federal and state government entities. Ultimately, his actions turned a loose federation of states united under a weak central government, into a true union headed by a strong federal government. This change began with slavery laws.

Prior to the Civil War, some states allowed slavery by law. Others outlawed slavery. On January 1st, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the rebellious states. This led to the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery nation-wide.

We honor Presidents Washington and Lincoln because they embodied the values and character that ennoble public service. On Presidents' Day, we honor Presidents past and present as they continue to uphold their oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”