Two Score and Four Years Ago….

Our founding fathers brought forth on this continent a new national holiday, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (except for the two greatest presidents in our nation’s history, which is why they get a holiday just for their birthdays).
presdayPresidents’ Day, as we know it now, was originally established in 1885 to recognize President George Washington and is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22, Washington’s actual day of birth, the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other historic figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents both past and present.
 Other popular presidential observances around the country include:
  • In Massachusetts, the state officially celebrates “Washington’s Birthday” on the same day as the Federal holiday. But state law also directs the governor to issue an annual “Presidents’ Day” proclamation on May 29 (President John F. Kennedy’s birthday) honoring the presidents with Massachusetts roots: Kennedy, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge.
  • Alabama uniquely observes the day as “Washington and Jefferson Day,” even though Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is in April.
  • In Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, while Washington’s Birthday is a federal holiday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is still a state holiday, falling on February 12 regardless of the day of the week.
  • In Washington’s home state of Virginia, the holiday is legally known as “George Washington Day.”
Today, the February holiday has become well known for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on Memorial Day or Christmas Day. With the late 1980s advertising push to rename the holiday, more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year, and, as on Veterans Day and Columbus Day, most delivery services outside of the U.S. Postal Service now offer regular service on the day as well. Some public transit systems have also gone to regular schedules on the day. Many colleges and universities hold regular classes and operations on Presidents’ Day. Various theories exist for this, one accepted reason being to make up for the growing trend of corporations to close in observance of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, when reviewing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record, one notes that supporters of the Bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.
To celebrate this auspicious holiday, I have included 44 little known facts you might not have known about our past Commanders-In-Chief (thanks to the Huffington Post):
  • Contrary to popular belief, the country’s first president (George Washington) had dentures made of gold, ivory, lead and animal teeth, but not wood.
  • Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 on land that once belonged to eventual President James Monroe. Jefferson is the only president to have ever founded an institution of higher learning.
  • After finishing his undergraduate degree in two years, James Madison stayed at Princeton University for an additional year, making him the Ivy League institution’s first graduate student.
  • Because of his prominent support for the colonization of Liberia, the country decided to name their capital city, Monrovia, after James Monroe.
  • Andrew Jackson taught his parrot to curse, and as a result had to be removed from the president’s funeral because it wouldn’t stop swearing.
  • Supposedly, President Martin Van Buren popularized one of the most commonly used phrases to date: “OK,” or “Okay”. Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY which was also called “Old Kinderhook”. His support groups came to be known as “O.K. Clubs” and the term OK came to mean “all right”.
  • During his brief tenure as president, William Henry Harrison had a pet billy goat with him at the White House.
  • President Ulysses S. Grant was given a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast down a Washington street.
  • After leaving office, William Taft became the only ex-president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, effectively becoming the only person to serve as the head of two branches of government. In doing so, he swore in both Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to the presidency. (On an unrelated note, he also lost 150 pounds after leaving office)
To find out more fun facts about the presidents follow the link bellow:

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