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Today In History

Lincoln's Birthday

Feb-09, 2017

Lincoln's Birthday

Lincoln's Birthday is an official and public holiday in some of the U.S. states. This day is observed on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth on February 12, 1809. The US states like New York, California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri observe the holiday. While New Jersey observed the holiday until September 29, 2008; but when New Jersey enacted The Public Employee Pension and Benefits Reform Act of 2008, it eliminated this holiday.

While ina few states, Lincoln's birthday is not celebrated separatelyas a stand-alone public holiday. Instead, Lincoln's Birthday is combined with a celebration of President George Washington's birthday which will also fall in the month of February and is celebrated either as Washington's Birthday or as Presidents' Day. This day is celebrated on the third Monday of February, simultaneously with the Federal holiday, instead of Lincoln's or Washington's actual birthday.


The earliest known celebration of Lincoln's birthday occurred in Buffalo, New York, in 1874. Julius Francis (d. 1881), who is a Buffalo druggist; made it his life's mission to tribute the slain president. He constantly petitioned Congress to make Lincoln's birthday a legal holiday in the US.

This day is noticeable by traditional wreath-laying ceremonies at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic location in Hodgenville, Kentucky, and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The latter has been the site of an observance ever since the Memorial was dedicated. Since that event in 1922, observances continue to be organized by the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee and by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). A garland is laid on behalf of the President of the United States, and a custom is also carried out at the grave sites of all deceased U.S. presidents on their birthdays. However, Lincoln's tomb is in Springfield, Illinois.

On February 12, 2009, the annual wreath-laying ceremonial at the Lincoln Memorial commemorated Lincoln's 200th birthday in grand style. An extended ceremony was planned by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC) and with help from MOLLUS. This ceremony featured musical performances by four-time Grammy-nominated singer Michael Feinstein and the U.S. Marine Corps. Band.  While the morning celebration also featured many remarks by Dick Durbin; Sen. Lincoln scholar and ALBC Co-Chair Harold Holzer; and recently retired Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice along with ALBC Commissioner – Frank J. Williams; and author Nikki Giovanni reciting her latest work, which was written especially for the Bicentennial.

All about the Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 12 in 1809. He livedin Indiana for some time before shifting to Illinois. He worked on a farm, worked in a store, split rails for fences, and was a captain in the Black Hawk War, andworked as a lawyer. Lincoln married Mary Todd and together they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity.

Lincoln started his political career at the age of 23. In 1832 he ran an unsuccessful movement for the Illinois General Assembly, as a Whig Party member. He then joined the newly formed Republican Party in the year 1854 and was nationally recognized during the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas regardless of Douglas’ win in the race for US Senator. Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 and, in spite of being a Republican, rallied the majority of the Northern Democrats to the Union cause throughout the 1861-65 Civil War.

Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, the Rail Splitter, and Honest Abe. He has been the president all through the American Civil War and is recognized for his struggle to protect the Union and the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. The assassination occurred less than two weeks after the alliance surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

The Symbols

Many museums and monuments are devoted to Abraham Lincoln. Various artworks like; paintings, drawings, photographs, and statues have been formed in Lincoln’s image and preserved to honor him.  Some of the examples include:

  • Lincoln’s portrait on the American five dollar bill.
  • Lincoln’s likeness on Mount Rushmore
  • The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.