Today is commonly known as "Presidents Day" in the United States. It is a federal holiday celebrating Washington's Birthday that is celebrated on the third Monday of February every year. Washington's actual birthday is February 22nd, but the Uniform Monday Holiday bill passed on June 28, 1968, shifted the date of the commemoration of Washington's Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February.
Contrary to common belief, this federal holiday's official title is "Washington's Birthday" according to 5 USC 6103. While several attempts were made to change the title to "Presidents Day", no law was ever passed to officially change the name of the federal holiday to Presidents Day. By the late 1980's though, advertisers and retailers pushed the use of the title "Presidents Day" and began promoting Presidents Day Sales to clear out inventory in preparation for the Spring and Summer seasons. It was then that the use of "Presidents Day" became more and more mainstream. Some states took it upon themselves and renamed their state holiday as "Presidents Day".
Friday, February 12, was President Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and some states have renamed their state holiday to commemorate both Washington and Lincoln.
Click here for a Wikipedia article exploring the background of Washington's Birthday/Presidents Day.
HeinOnline has a number of law review articles, congressional documents, and other government resources relating to the history and development of this federal holiday. Use the links below to explore these resources.
From the United States Code:
- 20 Stat. 277 - The Federal Holiday was originally implemented by Congress in 1880 for government offices in the District of Columbia
- 23 Stat. 516 - In 1885 it was expanded to include all federal offices
- 82 Stat. 250 - On June 28, 1968, bill H.R. 15951 was voted on and signed into law, moving the commemoration of Washington's Birthday to the third Monday in February
- Search for "Presidents Day", "President's Day", or "Presidents' Day" across the full text of all articles and all article titles.
- Search for "Washington's Birthday" across the full text of all articles and all article titles.
- Search for "Lincoln's Birthday" across the full text of all articles and all article titles.