Originally established in 1885 to recognize President George Washington's birthday on Feb. 22, Presidents Day later became a popular holiday in 1971 when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed to create more long weekends for workers.
Celebrated on the third Monday in February, Presidents Day was created with the provision to combine both Washington and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays, which fall a few days apart in February. By the mid-1980s, the holiday started being marketed as Presidents Day, with sales advertised in stores nationwide.
Still, some states have chosen to tailor the holiday to honor specific leaders. For instance, Arkansas celebrates Washington as well as civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates. Alabama commemorates Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In New Mexico, the holiday is celebrated on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
In Massachusetts, the state continues to celebrate Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22. In Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12 is considered a state holiday. In Virginia, George Washington’s home state, Presidents Day is legally called “George Washington Day.”
Continue Reading Below
Besides sales and travel deals, Presidents Day is typically recognized as a day for patriotic celebration and remembrance. To commemorate U.S. presidents past and present, below are 14 quotes to share on the national holiday:
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington
“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” -- Thomas Jefferson
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -- John Quincy Adams
"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice." – Abraham Lincoln
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.” -- Theodore Roosevelt
“I not only use all the brains that I have but all that I can borrow.” -- Woodrow Wilson
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Accomplishment will prove to be a journey, not a destination.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Let us resolve to be masters, not the victims, of our history, controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions and emotions.” -- John F. Kennedy
“Peace is a journey of a thousand miles, and it must be taken one step at a time.” -- Lyndon B. Johnson
“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” -- Jimmy Carter
“Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.” – George H.W. Bush
“We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.” -- Bill Clinton
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -- Barack Obama