Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the most iconic and important figures in American history. He went through a Civil War (which he won) and abolished slavery. These are sufficient reasons for Lincoln’s Birthday to be a nationwide celebration, but what are the others? And what’s the deal with Lincoln not being included in Presidents’ Day?
When Is Lincoln’s Birthday Celebrated?
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. Lincoln’s Birthday is set on the anniversary day of his birth and it’s a legal holiday in some of the US states. In other states, however, people observe it during Presidents’ Day, which honors a conglomerate of memorable USA presidents.
About Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln was born in Kentucky, 1809. He spent a notable amount of his life before entering the political spotlight in Illinois. During that time, he mostly busied himself with work on his farm. However, at some point, he was also a store worker and a lawyer. He married Mary Todd. Although the two of them had four sons, only one of them lived to maturity.
Lincoln’s political endeavors started in 1832, at the age of 23. He was unsuccessful in his campaign for a run for the Illinois General Assembly. He made the transition from the Whig Party to the Republican Party in 1854. Then, he managed to make himself stand out during the debate with Stephen Douglas.
In 1860, Lincoln won his race for the presidency of the United States. During his tenure, he had to withstand the Civil War (1861-1865). Remarkably, despite his allegiances to the Republican party, Lincoln managed to rally the Democratic Party behind him in his quest to abolish slavery.
History remembers Abraham Lincoln by a great deal of names and for a lot of deeds. One of them was the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was his dedication to the cause that brought his death. In 1866, only two weeks after the surrender of the Confederacy, Lincoln died. An assassin named John Wilkes Booth shot him publicly. The tragedy occurred at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.
How Lincoln’s Birthday Developed
Some say that unofficial forms of respect and honors in Lincoln’s memory started in 1867, one year after his assassination. Officially, though, the beginning was with a Buffalo druggist by the name Julius Francis and his insistences.
Francis had made it his mission to request from the Congress to honor the President through a petition that asked for a national holiday. However, New York was the only one to grant his request while the Congress and Washington turned it down.
Historically and politically speaking, it makes perfect sense why it happened like this. For a long time after the Civil War, the North and the South remained split apart by their differences. If one place considers someone to be a hero, another place may not. This explains why the Congress abstained for such a long time, until the 21st century.
The success of uniting these two split regions goes to World War I. Obviously, it’s not exactly right to say anything about the great war was a success. The tragedy and the numerous lives lost struck deeply at the hearts of all Americans, who all settled to commemorate the strife through what we call Memorial Day.
Correlation with Black History Month
Especially in the past years, you may have heard about this particular movement. Black History Month and Lincoln’s Birthday have strong connections and that’s not a coincidence. The earliest instance was in the 19th century when several black communities started commemorating Abraham Lincoln in February.
In the 20th century, black communities made an annual tradition out of the commemoration, annexing it to the celebration in the memory of Frederick Douglass. In 1926, Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced Negro History Week, which marked the second week of February. During that week, they would also commemorate the two figures.
Negro History Week became Black History Month in the 1970s and it branched out to Canada and the United Kingdom.
Lincoln’s Birthday and Presidents’ Day
In some states of the US, Lincoln’s birthday anniversary coincides with Presidents’ Day. Officially, though, Presidents’ Day only marks the commemoration of George Washington. However, several conjunctures and changes made it so that Presidents’ Day also celebrates Lincoln.
Officially, Lincoln’s Birthday is a celebration of its own, but it’s not one that all states of the USA religiously partake in. Also officially, Lincoln has nothing to do with Presidents’ Day. In a country so big, however, we can’t easily overlook a figure so important and notorious.