Presidents’ Day honors the contribution of two of our greatest and best loved presidents, George Washington, born of February 22, 1732, and Abraham Lincoln, born February 12th, 1809 — nine years after Washington’s death.

George Washington is one of the most honored men in U.S. History. He was the commander-in-chief of the first American army, and after the Revolution was elected to be our first president.

Following the precedent of honoring English kings, many American celebrated Washington’s birthday during his lifetime. In the winter of 1778, the First Congressional Artillery band marched to Valley Forge and serenaded him on his birthday. The University of Pennsylvania has held regular exercises in the honor of Washington’s birthday — longer than any other institution.

Faculty members march to the president’s house in Philadelphia on his birthday.

Not long after Washington’s death in 1799, Congress passed a resolution that February 22nd, 1800, should be observed as a day of mourning. Over the years this became a tradition throughout the nation.

The late Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., a Harvard professor, requested that 55 historians rank the presidents in order of greatness. They chose Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Wilson, Jefferson, and Jackson in that order. Lincoln’s rise from a log cabin to the presidency, his shrewd insights, humility and story telling genius, as well as his assassination, have all added to the love and devotion Americans feel for him. During his Presidency, Lincoln fought to preserve the Union, and the Emancipation Proclamation was his most far-reaching action. Only five days after the Confederate surrendered, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending the theatre. He died the next morning, April 15, 1865.

The first formal observation of Lincoln’s birthday was held in the Capitol Building on February 12, 1866. As is the case with several of our holidays, the centennial of Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1909, provided the impetus for Congress to firmly establish the holiday.

When the Monday holiday law was passed, the observation of both birthdays was combined into Presidents’ Day. Washington and Lincoln both cared deeply about the ideas upon which their country was founded and they gave their talents and energies to uphold these ideas.

A Tart for Presidents Day

Super quick and easy, and the hatchet makes it special.

  • Pie crust dough.
  • Tart-sized filling foil pan.
  • One cup of cherry pie filling.

Cut small circular pie shell to fit the tart pan and prick the shell with a fork. Draw a hatchet on heavy paper to use as a pattern, and cut a hatchet for each tart from the remaining pie crust. Bake crust and hatchet according to recipe on box directions. Fill crust with cherry pie filling and place a hatchet on top of each tart.