It's Presidents Day 2016! Whether or not you get the day off, you can still enjoy a little trivia about two of the most famous February-born American presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both are celebrated today as national heroes for the service they offered our country.
Our first president, born on February 22, 1732, is most famous for his inspired military leadership during the American Revolution. But did you know that George Washington:
- Left the office of president after two terms so that the people would have opportunities for new leadership. Even today, our president may not serve longer than two consecutive terms.
- Was well-read (he especially enjoyed Shakespeare and books on agronomy), but never attended college.
- Loved attending the theater as often as possible. Joseph Addison's "Cato" was a favorite play.
- Worked as a surveyor before becoming a military leader and statesman.
- Advocated for neutrality during foreign conflicts, assuming that various countries would be better for lack of American interference.
- Lived in New York and Philadelphia while he was president.
- Enjoyed cornmeal pancakes ('hoecakes') as a special breakfast treat.
- Worked to create a productive plantation at Mount Vernon, where he died on December 14, 1799 after falling ill with a throat infection.
As sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln enjoyed many amenities George Washington never knew, including living in the White House and enjoying many more state dinners amid elegant surroundings. At the same time, Lincoln was a man of relatively simple tastes whose honesty and integrity are still celebrated today.
Here are a few facts you might not know about Abraham Lincoln:
- Lincoln was the first president to come from a state other than the 13 original colonies. He was born on a farm in Kentucky on February 12, 1809.
- He disliked being called 'Abe,' preferring to be called by his surname.
- As an avid animal lover, Lincoln allowed his cat Tabby to eat at the table in the White House. He also owned a dog named Fido.
- Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
- He regularly stowed important documents in his hat.
- After his son died in the White House, Lincoln and his wife participated in seances, hoping to establish a connection with their dead son.
- Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 and died the following morning. He was buried on May 4th just outside of Springfield, Illinois.
Presidents Day Reading List
If you enjoyed these facts about the men we honor each Presidents Day, you may want to explore their lives further by reading:
- A Picture Book of George Washington, by Adler & Wallner
- 1776 by David McCullough
- Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow
- A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, by Adler & Wallner
- Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman
- The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, by Daniel Mark Epstein
- Stealing Lincoln's Body, by Thomas J. Craughwell
What activities do you enjoy on Presidents Day? Share with us in the comments below.