Presidents Day is the nation's celebration of George Washington's birthday. What? Isn't it the celebration of Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays?
The confusion began with the enactment of the Uniform Holiday Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, which moved Washington's birthday, Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances to a Monday to create three-day holidays. Washington's birthday became known as Presidents Day, although it is still legally recognized by Congress as Washington's Birthday, Presidents Day has become a day to honor not only Washington, but Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president who was born on Feb. 12, and the lives and accomplishments of all U.S. presidents.
So in the spirit of what has become Presidents Day, the Patch Poll asks: Who is your favorite president, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?
Washington was the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, president of the Constitutional Convention and gentleman planter.
These were the roles in which Washington exemplified character and leadership, earning the title of “Father of His Country” and a hallowed place in America’s national psyche, according to mountvernon.org. When one of his officers suggested that Washington become king, he firmly put a stop to any further ideas of that sort.
Through it all, Washington advocated for civilian control of the military, and at the end of the conflict, he gave up power, by personally resigning his military commission before Congress.
As president, Abraham Lincoln built the Republican Party into a strong national organization, according to whitehouse.org. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On Jan. 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.
Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion. The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds.... "
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln's death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.
In last week's Patch Poll, Should Illinois prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones?, 66 percent of respondents said yes, and 33 percent said no.