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Why Abraham Lincoln's Birthday Isn't a Federal Holiday

Many Americans think that we commemorate Abraham Lincoln, among other American presidents, on President’s Day. However, it’s not true. In fact, this day is officially called Washington’s Birthday and it was supposed to be the day to celebrate only the first president of the United States. However, what about Lincoln’s birthday then? Doesn’t he deserve to be honored?

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents of the USA. His contributions include abolition of slavery, victory in the Civil War and work toward the maintenance of the United States. His birthday is on February 12 and it is celebrated only in some of the states. It has never been a federal holiday and this president is not officially honored on President’s Day. There have been multiple attempts to make Lincoln’s birthday a national holiday. It is possible to say that these attempts began in 1874, when Julius Francis, a druggist from Buffalo, NY, arranged the public celebration devoted to President Lincoln on February 12. He petitioned Congress to make this day a federal holiday, but only a few states accepted it.

One of the reasons to the failure to establish Lincoln’s Day in the very beginning was the separation between North and South after the Civil War. These two parts of the country seemed to have different values and different heroes. Therefore, most Southerners did not want to honor Lincoln back then. Only following the tragedy of World War I, this separation disappeared. Nevertheless, the Congress hasn’t established yet Lincoln’s Birthday as a federal holiday honoring the Great Emancipator.

In 1968, the Congress signed the Uniform Monday Holidays Act into action to shift some of the federal holidays to predetermined Mondays. It was done with an aim to increase sell-a-thon opportunities and create more three-day weekends. This is how we ended up having President’s Day on the third Monday of February. This day was supposed to replace the existing holiday observing George Washington’s birthday, not the birthday of any other president of the USA.

This holiday is still officially called Washington’s Birthday, as it is designated in the law. If you don’t believe it, you can take a look at the US Office of Personnel Management list of holidays for this year. You will see that February 20 this year is listed as Washington’s Birthday. Unfortunately, it means that Abraham Lincoln still does not have a federal day of honor.

Lincoln’s Birthday is celebrated as a state holiday in some of the states, such as Illinois, New York, and Missouri. However, this outstanding man truly deserves to be honored throughout the country as well. Let’s hope that justice will triumph and we will finally get Lincoln’s Day as a federal holiday soon!



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