Americans Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday

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Provided by Prince William County

When George Washington was born in Pope’s Creek Plantation, in Westmoreland County, Virginia., Great Britain and its colonies used the Julian calendar, so his birthday fell on Feb. 11, 1731. In 1752, Great Britain switched to the Gregorian calendar, which moved Washington’s birthday to Feb. 22, 1732, according to the National Archives.

Americans started celebrating George Washington’s birthday even before the end of the Revolutionary War. Recognizing Feb. 22, 1778, as Washington’s birthday, fifers and drummers gathered at Washington’s quarters at Valley Forge to serenade him in the first public celebration of his birthday.

On the 100th anniversary of Washington’s birthday, noted orator Daniel Webster proclaimed that in another hundred years people would be celebrating Washington’s birthday “with no less of sincere admiration than we now commemorate it,” according to the National Park Service.

Massachusetts designated Feb. 22 as a state holiday in 1857. Washington’s birthday was declared a national holiday in 1879 and was first observed as a national holiday in 1880.

In 1932, The George Washington Bicentennial Commission coordinated nearly five million events across 81 countries and deeded Pope’s Creek Plantation to the National Park Service.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the third Monday in February as Presidents Day to honor Washington and all other presidents.

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