Establishment of Lincoln’s Birthday
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th US President, known as the Great Emancipator, the Rail Splitter, and Honest Abe. He fought against the slavery and is honored by his countrymen since he was assassinated on April 14, 1865.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, the day Americans publically celebrate Lincoln’s birth. However, many people would be surprised to figure out that Lincoln’s Birthday has never been a federal holiday and is officially observed only in Illinois, Connecticut, Missouri, and New York.
Back to history, the first commemoration of Lincoln’s Birthday was given to Congress 10 months after his death. Later, its celebration as a holiday was suggested by Julius Francis, who was putting efforts to make Lincoln’s Birthday a legal one. Francis organized the first public celebration in Buffalo, New York, in 1874. The festivities endured till 1881, the year of Francis’s death.
There are certain reasons why Lincoln’s Birthday hadn’t been recognized all over the USA. First of all, it falls on February 12, which is a few days apart from Presidents Day, officially known as Washington’s Birthday, celebrated on the third Monday of February. The attempt to make Lincoln’s Birthday federal also failed because of the North-South split caused by the bitter politics of Reconstruction.
The maintenance of Lincoln’s Birthday encountered with further difficulties, concerning the Uniform Holiday Act in 1968. Since then, federal holidays like Memorial Day and Washington’s Birthday were celebrated on specific Mondays with a purpose to create three-day-weekends.
Observing the history of the establishment of Lincoln’s Birthday, there is one more important fact worth mentioning. In 1951, Harold Stonebridge Fischer suggested the idea to honor all the presidents on March 4, which was supported by state governors and proclaimed as Presidents Day holiday. After the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, the United States started to consider Washington Birthday as Presidents Day, and only a few states continued to honor Lincoln’s Birthday.
Eventually, different states began to observe the mentioned holiday in their own ways. Some states created their own Presidents Day on the third Monday in February. Others mark the day as an honor of Washington and Lincoln. Certain states like New Mexico, Georgia, and Indiana celebrate Washington’s Birthday and Presidents Day, but in a different month.
Only a few state governments observe Lincoln’s Birthday as an official holiday on February 12. They are Illinois, the “Land of Lincoln,” New York, Connecticut, and Missouri. To reduce the budgetary cost, such states as New Jersey and California ended the observance of Lincoln’s Birthday.
Though, Lincoln’s Birthday had never been recognized as an official national holiday, Lincoln himself and his deeds remain to be remembered and honored by Americans. Every year wreaths are brought to Lincoln’s landmarks throughout the USA, which keeps the American promise to: “Enshrine the Memory of Abraham Lincoln forever.”