Briefcase: President’s Day

Special guest Dean Leonard Baynes.

In honor of this Monday’s Presidents’ Day, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center explained how the name and date of the holiday have changed (or not) over the past 132 years.

“Presidents’ Day honors all Presidents.

The origin of the holiday dates back to 1885, when George Washington’s birthday became a federal holiday, celebrated on February 22nd.  

In contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, had been acknowledged by individual states, but was not a federal holiday.”


“In 1968, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Holiday Bill,’ moving Washington’s birth celebration to the 3rd Monday in February.  A portion of the bill, to re-name it ‘Presidents’ Day,’ failed to pass. The holiday is still officially called ‘Washington’s Birthday,’ by the federal government.” 


“In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the 3rd Monday in February to be a ‘holiday set aside to honor all Presidents.’  

Since then, Americans and advertisers have adopted the name “Presidents’ Day.”


Maggie Martin

Maggie Martin

Producer, Houston Matters

Maggie Martin is a producer for Houston Matters, the award-winning public affairs radio program on News 88.7FM. Originally from upstate New York, Maggie started her public radio career at WFUV, Fordham University’s public radio station in New York City. She’s also worked with The Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC, On...

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