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It’s Washington’s Birthday—really

George Washington. Copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart: 1931 - 1932  ARC Identifier 532888 / Local Identifier 148-GW-426

George Washington. Copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart. (ARC 532888 / 148-GW-42)

Monday is a federal holiday, but what holiday is it? So many ads on television and in print tell us it’s Presidents/President’s/Presidents’ Day. Images of Lincoln and Washington sometimes accompany these ads.

But here at the National Archives, we know it’s still officially Washington’s Birthday. This year the holiday is actually close to GW’s birthday (February 22), but in many years the holiday falls closes to Lincoln’s (February 12).

How did this once-fixed holiday become blurred and shared with all U.S. Presidents? Look to the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill of 1968, which moved the observance of our first President’s birth from its actual day to the third Monday of February.

Read the whole story in Prologue: “By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday” (Winter 2004).

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