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A Big Birthday

Every February, the country celebrates Presidents’ Day. Historical groups hold special events. Schools teach about the presidents. But the holiday wasn’t always celebrated like this.

Washington is also honored on Mount Rushmore, along with Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.


Presidents’ Day began with George Washington. He was the first president of the United States. His birthday was February 22. That day was celebrated by Americans long before it was a national holiday.

George Washington was the first president of the United States. He served two terms in office.


In 1879, Congress made Washington’s Birthday official. Washington was the first American to be celebrated by a holiday.

Founding Father

George Washington is celebrated for many reasons. He played an essential role in the American Revolution. He served as general for the Continental Army. He led the United States to victory against Britain. He then joined the Constitutional Convention. Its members wrote the U.S. Constitution, which contained rules for the new country.

This painting shows Washington taking command of the Continental Army in Massachusetts in 1775.


In 1789, Washington became the first U.S. president. He picked the judges for the country’s first Supreme Court. He helped start the country’s first national bank. And he gave the first State of the Union address. In 1797, Washington retired.

Sharing the Spotlight

In 1971, Washington’s Birthday was made a Monday holiday. This gave people a three-day weekend. Washington’s Birthday became known as Presidents’ Day. Because President Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, people honor him on that day too.

Washington is celebrated in many ways. One example is this statue in New York City.


Making Change


The third Monday of every January is another federal holiday. It celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929. Martin Luther King played a leading role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., in 1963. King won a Nobel Peace Prize the following year.