Presidents Day 2015

Daily News Article   —   Posted on February 16, 2015

NOTE: The Daily News Article resumes Tuesday, February 17.

Washington’s Birthday (also known as Presidents’ Day) is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of February. On this day, many also honor Abraham Lincoln (born on February 12th). George Washington is known as the Father of Our Country; Abraham Lincoln is known as The Great Emancipator.  Take some time to read the following and visit the websites:

ON WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY: (from archives.gov/legislative/features/washington)

  • George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Americans celebrated Washington’s Birthday long before Congress declared it a federal holiday. The centennial of his birth prompted festivities nationally and Congress established a Joint Committee to arrange for the occasion.
  • At the recommendation of the Committee, chaired by Henry Clay of the Senate and Philemon Thomas of the House, Congress adjourned on February 22, 1832 out of respect for Washington’s memory and in commemoration of his birth.
  • Prompted by a memorial from the mayor and other citizens of Philadelphia, the House and Senate commemorated the 130th Anniversary of Washington’s birth by reading aloud his Farewell Address.
  • In a special joint session held in the House Chamber, the House and Senate, along with several cabinet officials, Justices of the Supreme Court and high-ranking officers of the Army and Navy, gathered to listen to the Secretary of State read the address aloud. Eventually, the reading of George Washington’s Farewell Address became an annual event for the Senate, a tradition that is still observed to this day.
  • Washington’s Birthday, however, did not become a legal holiday until January 31, 1879 when Congress added February 22nd to the list of holidays to be observed by federal employees in the District of Columbia.
  • In 1971, Congress switched Washington’s Birthday holiday from his birthdate, Feb. 22, to the third Monday in February and it evolved into being called “Presidents Day.” The day now celebrates both Washington’s birthday and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is Feb. 12.
  • Read Washington’s Farewell Address at:
    gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents_gw/farewell/transcript.html.

For more information on George Washington, go to MountVernon.org. 


HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT? 

Background

GEORGE WASHINGTON

At the age of 15 George Washington copied the 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.”  These maxims were so fully lived out in George Washington’s life that historians have regarded them as important influences in forming his character.  Listed below are several of the maxims followed by George Washington.  How many do you follow?

3 Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.

4 In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

6 Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

21 Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

23 When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.

38 In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein.

49 Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

56 Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.

91 Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.

109 Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.

For the complete list of maxims, go to the Colonial Williamsburg website at:  history.org/Almanack/life/manners/rules2.cfm.

ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S LETTERS TO HIS WIFE MARTHA:

CHALLENGE:  

  • In 2012, George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, in which he had written notes, sold at auction for $9.8 million.
  • The Mt. Vernon Ladies Association bought it.
  • It allowed us to see, for the first time, how cautiously our first president assumed the office, his eyes not toward history but the future.
  • Next to two passages explicating the signing of a bill into law, which he bracketed, Washington has written in cursive, “President.”
  • He also inscribed “Presidential Powers” next to the paragraphs that lay out the president’s role as commander-in-chief, as well as his authority to grant pardons, make treaties and appoint Supreme Court justices.
  • Beneath that, in the paragraph that reads, “He shall from time to time give Congress information of the state of the union,” Washington has added “required,” and it was he who established the address as an annual event.

How many times have you read through the entire Constitution?  Read through the U.S. Constitution every day for a week.  For the full text, go to the U.S. Archives: archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html


lincolnABRAHAM LINCOLN

ABOUT LINCOLN’S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS (NOV. 19, 1863): (read Lincoln’s speech at:  gettysburg.com/bog/ga.htm)

  • When the armies marched away from Gettysburg they left behind a community in shambles and more than 51,000 killed, wounded, and missing.  Wounded and dying were crowded into nearly every building.  Most of the dead lay in hasty and inadequate graves; some had not been buried at all.
  • This situation so distressed Pennsylvania’s Gov. Andrew Curtin that he commissioned a local attorney, David Wills, to purchase land for a proper burial ground for Union dead.  Within four months of the battle, reinterment began on 17 acres that became Gettysburg National Cemetery.
  • When the cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863, less than half the Union battle dead had been removed from their field graves.  The principal speaker was the renowned orator, Edward Everett.  As was common for the day, his detailed speech lasted for over two hours.
  • Also on the program was a guest who had been invited to present “a few appropriate remarks” only as an afterthought.  President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of these remarks lasted only two minutes that day.  The short length was in such contrast to the Everett allocution that the audience, stunned for a moment, barely reacted.  Upon returning to his seat Lincoln remarked to a friend: “That speech won’t scour. It is a flat failure.”  To the contrary, the Gettysburg Address has become known as one of the supreme masterpieces of eloquence in the English language.  On November 20, Everett wrote Lincoln “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
  • The 272 words of the Gettysburg Address were formulated with great thought by Lincoln.  He wrote the first draft in Washington shortly before November 18 and revised it at the home of David Wills in Gettysburg the night before the dedication.
  • The speech transformed Gettysburg from a scene of carnage into a symbol, giving meaning to the sacrifice of the dead and inspiration to the living.
  • Within a few years, however, the bodies of more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle had been reinterred in the cemetery.  Following the war, the remains of 3,320 Confederate soldiers were removed from the battlefield to cemeteries in the South.
  • Today the cemetery is the final resting place for over 6,000 honorably discharged servicemen and their dependents from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War.

–Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at gettysburg.com/bog/address.htm.

Resources

For Washington’s “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,” go to the Colonial Williamsburg website at:  history.org/Almanack/life/manners/rules2.cfm.

Read about Washington’s birthday at the National Archives website:  archives.gov/legislative/features/washington.

Read “The Bulletproof George Washington” that details God’s protection on George Washington.

CHALLENGE: 

What do you think of the video below made by University of Virginia students to explain/illustrate the intended meaning of some of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility”?


Watch a video of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: