When Was Presidents Day Established

Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday celebrated in the United States, has an interesting history that dates back to the late 1960s. This shift in holiday celebration began with the introduction of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act proposed by Congress. Let’s take a closer look at how Presidents’ Day was established.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act and the Birth of Presidents’ Day

In the late 1960s, Senator Robert McClory of Illinois championed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This act aimed to shift the celebration of certain federal holidays from specific dates to predetermined Mondays. The idea behind this change was to create longer weekends for workers and encourage more leisure activities and travel.

Combining Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act had an additional provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with that of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, which fell on February 12, had long been observed as a state holiday in places like Illinois. The act sought to honor both prominent presidents by merging their birthdays into one holiday.

Official Establishment of Presidents’ Day

The main part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1968 and officially took effect in 1971. It was during this time that President Richard M. Nixon issued an executive order to implement the act. As a result, the celebration of Washington’s Birthday, combined with the recognition of Lincoln’s Birthday, became known as Presidents’ Day.

Presidents’ Day, as designated in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, serves as the official name for this holiday for federal employees. While other institutions, such as state and local governments and private businesses, may use different names, it is our policy to refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.

Presidents’ Day is now widely celebrated across the country and serves as a time to honor and recognize the contributions of all past and present U.S. presidents.

Presidents' Day
Image Source: Brooks Kraft, Getty Images

FAQs

Q: Why was the Uniform Monday Holiday Act introduced?
A: The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was introduced to shift the celebration of federal holidays from specific dates to predetermined Mondays, creating longer weekends for workers.

Q: Who championed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act?
A: Senator Robert McClory of Illinois was the driving force behind the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

Q: When did Presidents’ Day officially take effect?
A: Presidents’ Day officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard M. Nixon.

Q: Is Presidents’ Day a federal holiday?
A: Yes, Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday observed in the United States.

Conclusion

Presidents’ Day, established through the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in the late 1960s, is a significant federal holiday that celebrates the contributions of U.S. presidents. This holiday, originally intended to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, has now become a nationwide commemoration of all past and present presidents. So, as we enjoy this holiday, let’s take a moment to reflect on the remarkable leaders who have shaped the history of the United States.

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