February 12 is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. This son of a Kentucky frontiersman was born in Virginia and became one of the most compelling president’s in US history. Honest Abe is most popular for the Declaration of Emancipation, wherein the freed the slaves within the Confederacy, earning him the name The Great Emancipator. Lincoln is also known as the first president to be elected from the Republican Party. Lincoln was slain on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.
Legal but not a Federal Holiday
February 12 is considered a legal holiday in many states across the country, including the states of California, Connecticut, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Missouri.
It was Julius Francis, a druggist from Buffalo, New York, who is credited for pushing Congress to make the slain president’s birthday a legal holiday. The first recorded celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday was in 1866 though it was not as widespread as it is today. Since 1922, American’s have recognized Lincoln’s birthday, although it is not officially a Federal Holiday.
Celebrations in honor of the President include wreath-laying ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, as well as at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, which can be found in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
The observances in honor of the 16th President of the country are organized by various groups. These include the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) and the Lincoln birthday National Commemorative Committee. The Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail as well as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum also organize events in honor of the beloved president to commemorate his birthday.
Activities for the day start with wreath laying, to be followed by re-enactments or even the reading of one of his most famous speeches, The Gettysburg Address. There are also concerts as well as birthday parties and fund-raising activities by the Republican Party to remember Lincoln.
Lincoln’s birthday is often celebrated as President’s Day. This is because the third Monday during the month of February has been observed by the Federal government as “Washington’s Birthday”. The first president of the country, George Washington was born February 22, 1732. Since both presidents have birthdays quite close to each other, many states simply call it “President’s Day”. This is the case in Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia, Arizona and Ohio.
This year, Lincoln’s Birthday and George’s Washington’s birthday will be remembered on President’s Day, which falls on February 22. It is a non-working bank holiday.
Not the same as Lincoln Day
However, people shouldn’t confuse Lincoln’s birth anniversary with Lincoln Day. Lincoln Day is a celebration and fundraising event held by the US Republican Party. Although the day is named after Abraham Lincoln, modern day Republicans have renamed Lincoln Day as Reagan Day, after President Ronald Reagan.