February is a special time to reflect and celebrate the freedoms we all enjoy and love. Without the great leadership of Presidents, and especially Washington and Lincoln, it is hard to imagine what our lives would be like today. Presidents’ Day honors the contributions of these two great and best-loved presidents. George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, and Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 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 Americans celebrated Washington ‘s birth during his lifetime. In the winter of 1778, the fourth Continental Artillery band marched to Valley Forge and serenaded him on his birthday.
Not long after Washington ‘s death in 1799, Congress passed a resolution that February 22, 1800, should be observed as a day of mourning. Over the years, this became a tradition throughout the nation.
Later Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., a Harvard professor, requested that 55 historians rank the Presidents in order of greatness. They chose Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wilson, Jefferson, and Jackson, in that order. Lincoln ‘s rise from a log cabin to the presidency, his shrewd insight, 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 surrender, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, while attending the theatre, and he died the next morning, April 15, 1865.
The first formal observance of Lincoln ‘s birthday was held in the Capitol building in Washington 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 ideals upon which their country was founded and they gave their talents and energies to upholding those ideals.
If you celebrate with a cake for these special birthdays, here is a treats that can be enjoyed by all.
Lincoln Log Cake
Really great with ice cream!
- chocolate cake mix, prepared according to directions
- (16 ounce) can milk chocolate frosting
- (16 ounce) can dark chocolate frosting
- Pastry bag
- 3/8” or ½” round pastry tip
- Maraschino cherries with stems attached
- Paper hatchet
Preheat oven to 375º F. Grease a 15′ x 10” baking pan and line with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper. Gently spread prepared cake batter in pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a clean, dry dish towel. When cake is done, loosen edges and immediately invert on prepared towel. Remove pan and wax paper. Starting with longer edge of cake, roll up cake and towel together. Cool. Unroll cake and remove towel. Reroll cake with towel and frost with milk chocolate frosting, swirling with a spatula to resemble bark.
Fill the pastry bag with dark chocolate frosting. To create a log effect, make horizontal lines the length of the cake and rings on each end. Top with 3 maraschino cherries (with stems) and place a miniature paper hatchet into the log.