Today marks the official federal holiday known as Washington's Birthday. At one time the nation had a Washington's Birthday holiday on February 22, the actual day of the man's birth, but that changed in 1971 when the "Monday holiday rule" took effect. The rule was
Never keen to let a good shopping opportunity pass, American capitalists liked the idea of a President's Day, especially one that could be stretched over a full week . And Lincoln and Washington were a perfect match. Merchants saw the advantage of the patriotic fervor generated by matching silhouettes of Lincoln - log cabins - and Washington - axes and cherries - positioned over merchandise and big red signs reading "SALE." The concept caught on. Today, about all Americans have left with the third Monday in February is the opportunity to buy stuff, mostly stuff they don't need. On the federal level, this not only leaves us with nothing for Old Abe but also nothing for the other presidents save George.
Washington's Farewell Address, written in 1796 on his coming departure from the presidency, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863.
Photos and Illustrations:
early 20th century postcards from the author's archive