The history of Presidents’ Day began in 1800. Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22nd birthday became an annual day of remembrance in the United States. At the time, George Washington was considered the most important figure in American history.
Over the years, President Abraham Lincoln’s February 12th birthday was also celebrated, and many states started combining the two Presidential birthdays into one February holiday.
The official shift to a national Presidents’ Day began in the late 1960’s, when the U.S. Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This Act included a provision to combine Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s birthday into one three-day weekend.
In 1971, the celebrations of Washington and Lincoln were finally rolled into one national holiday on the third Monday of February each year. While Washington and Lincoln still remain the two most recognized American leaders, Presidents’ Day was also expanded to recognize all U.S. presidents.
Here’s an interesting history nugget for you… Although the date for Presidents’ Day floats each year, it never lands on the actual birthday of any American President. George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan were all born in February, but their birthdays all come either too early or too late to overlap with Presidents’ Day.