Presidents’ Day 2012: Washington vs. Lincoln

Today is George Washington’s Birthday, a day that has come to unofficially honor Abraham Lincoln, too, under as Presidents’ Day.

Though George Washington, America’s first president, was born on Feb. 22, his birthday has been observed on the third Monday of each February since 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Washington had been honored with a federal holiday, on his actual birthday, since 1879.

While debating the 1968 act, lawmakers considered officially renaming the holiday Presidents’ Day, honoring not only Washington but also Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, born on Feb. 12. Support for the provision dried up in committee, and it was dropped from the bill.

However, Presidents’ Day has crept into the modern American lexicon, becoming synonymous with Washington’s birthday, and in some cases, supplanting it. Retailers and advertisers have adopted the name, as have many calendar makers.

So, who should Presidents Day really honor?

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