Monday, February 20, is 2023’s official Presdents Day….a celebration Congress dictated back in 1968 as several traditional holidays were moved to Mondays to create more 3 day weekends. Really.
In this case it’s also a catchall for the birthdays of George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). Surprisingly, not every state recognizes Presidents day. Nine states don’t observe the holiday at all. You won’t find the February long weekend in Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Rhode Island or Wisconsin.
OK…enough trivia. How much do you know about Washington, Lincoln and other Presidents? There’s a handy selection of resources from the Gilder Lehrman Institute.
Spotlights on Primary Sources
Gilder Lehrman curators explain and explore documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection.
- George Washington on attending church, 1762: Enjoy a chatty August 1762 letter from Washington to his brother-in-law Burwell Bassett.
- George Washington from Valley Forge on the urgent need for men and supplies, 1777: Explore an original letter in Washington’s handwriting asking for help from New Hampshire, among other states, during the Revolutionary War.
- George Washington discusses Shays’ Rebellion and the upcoming Constitutional Convention, 1787: On February 3, George Washington wrote to Henry Knox about various rebellions in the context of creating and ratifying the Constitution.
- John Adams describes George Washington’s ten talents, 1807: Eight years after George Washington’s death, John Adams penned this letter to Benjamin Rush explaining why Washington was considered a hero by the American people.
- Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech, ca. 1857–1858: In this speech fragment from 1857, which he later expanded as the opening speech of his 1858 US Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln identified slavery as a moral and political issue that threatened the continued existence of the United States.
- Lincoln on abolition in England and the United States, 1858: In this undated speech fragment believed to be from the 1858 Senate race, Lincoln stated his opposition to slavery as an inhumane practice.
- Lincoln on the execution of a slave trader, 1862: This refusal of clemency for a convicted slave trader stands out among the papers of Abraham Lincoln, a man renowned for his mercy.
- Franklin Roosevelt’s Advice to High School Students: In 1922, Sharpless Dobson Green, a teacher at Senior High School in Trenton, New Jersey, wrote to influential people around the world to get their advice for his students. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a decade before becoming president of the United States, answered him.
Inside the Vault Videos
Inside the Vault: Highlights from the Gilder Lehrman Collection is a free monthly online program that highlights unique primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, led by Institute curators and special guest historians. The Inside the Vault archive is rich with past programs centered on American presidents. Enjoy these classroom-friendly explorations, all whose pages include additional resources for study: