America Presidents Day. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln

America Presidents Day

On February 21, 1861, then-President-elect Abraham Lincoln spoke before the New Jersey Legislature, first the Assembly and then the state Senate. Even if the majority of New Jerseyans did not support him, the president-elect stated that they both have a deep love for the nation.
“I recognize that the people in this room are the representatives of the people of New Jersey, most of whom hold different views than those I have dealt with. I therefore see this manifestation as a statement of their commitment to the Union, the Constitution, and individual liberty.

He also talked about how the troops who lost their lives at the Battle of Trenton represented the core values of the nation and how it was his responsibility as God’s servant to both ensure America’s existence and understand the significance of what they sacrificed.

America Presidents Day

General George Washington, the leader of the Continental Army, was one of those heroes at Trenton. He would go on to become the first president of the United States, holding office for two terms before deciding not to seek office again.

In his Farewell Address, President Washington declared, “Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.” “The term American, which is yours in your collective national capacity, must always elevate the righteous pride of patriotism above any moniker originating from regional prejudices. You share the same political beliefs, etiquette, habits, and religion with only minor variations. You have united to fight for and win a shared cause. Your freedom and autonomy are the result of collaborative efforts, joint councils, shared setbacks, and victories.

However, the factors that are more directly related to your interest far outweigh these ones, no matter how persuasively they appeal to your sensibilities. Here, the most compelling reasons for vigilantly defending and upholding the unity of the whole are found in every region of our nation.

Keeping those remarks in mind, let me summarize all that Abraham Lincoln spoke while he was in New Jersey, specifically addressing each house of the legislature in turn on his first trip to Washington.

The speech to the Senate:

Distinguished Mr. President and Honorable Members of the New Jersey Senate: I sincerely appreciate the respectful response I have received from you. I can’t help but think of New Jersey’s significance in our early history. Few States of the original Thirteen had more of the nation’s battlefields within their borders during the early Revolutionary War than did New Jersey. Please excuse me if, on this occasion, I say that, long ago in my early years, when I was just learning to read, I came into possession of a little book—one that very few of the younger members have ever seen.

the movie “Weem’s Life of Washington” I recall hearing all the stories of the battlegrounds and national liberation fights, but none of them stuck in my mind as much as the struggle going on in Trenton, New Jersey. More than any other revolutionary event, the river crossing, the battle with the Hessians, and the extreme hardships I went through at the time stayed in my mind. As you have all been boys, you understand how these early impressions linger longer than any other. Even though I was a youngster at the time, I remember thinking that those soldiers must have been fighting for something greater than just the common good.

I am extremely concerned that this Union, the Constitution, and the people’s liberties will be preserved in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made. I would be extremely happy to be a humble tool in the hands of the Almighty and of this, his almost chosen people, for the purpose of preserving that something that projected glory to all people for all time and was past national independence.

I understand that you extend this reception to me without regard to my political affiliation. I find out that most of the gentlemen in this body did not believe that I was the right candidate for Chief Magistrate when they used their best judgment to choose someone else. I recognize, however, that they came forward to welcome me as the constitutional President of the United States; that is, they came forward as citizens of the United States to meet the man who represents the country temporarily and who unites us in preserving the Union and the liberties of the people.

To the Assembly

Gentlemen and Mr. Speaker: I recently had the privilege of being received by the other branch of this Legislature, and I would like to thank both you and them for the warm welcome that the people of New Jersey extended to me as the temporary representative of the people of the United States, through their duly elected representatives. Very few of the acts of respect that I have been met with, I take upon myself. In my opinion, giving anything to a man should only be done as a show of support for the Union and the Constitution. I recognize that the people in this room are the representatives of the people of New Jersey, most of whom hold different views than those I have dealt with. I therefore view this manifestation as a statement of their commitment to the Union, the Constitution, and individual liberty. As you so eloquently stated, Mr. Speaker, the brightest and bravest among us look upon the facet of our national affairs with uncertainty and wonder at this moment. You can easily understand why I won’t go into specifics about the path I think is appropriate to take in light of these conditions. It is appropriate that I make use of all the time and information at my disposal so that, when the day comes for me to make an official statement, I can stand on the side I believe to be the strongest and safest, and from which I may never have to veer. I will aim to conquer the territory that I think is most just to the North, East, West, South, and the entire nation. I want to take it in a positive light and have no ill will against any group. I’ll do all within my ability to encourage a peaceful resolution to all of our problems. There is no one who is more committed to maintaining peace than me. Nobody would go above and beyond to protect it. However, it can be important to firmly put your foot down. And you will support me if I fulfill my responsibilities and act morally, won’t you? As I am welcomed by members of a Legislature that, for the most part, does not share my political views, I hope that I can enlist their help in guiding the state ship through its current dangerous journey. After all, if it is attacked now, there won’t be a need for a pilot on any future voyages.

History of Presidents Day

The concept of a Washington Day originated in the 1870s when Sen. Steven Wallace Dorsey suggested that the president’s birthday, February 22, be added to the list of already-established national holidays. In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the federal statute honoring Washington, making it official.
But by now it was after the Civil War, and official festivities in many Northern states included Lincoln, who was killed on April 15, 1865, by a Southern sympathizer.

The states of the South did not and do not follow suit. As part of their Presidents Day celebration, no state that was a part of the Confederacy recognizes Abraham Lincoln by name.
Washington’s Birthday/Presidents Day is celebrated in South Carolina; George Washington Day is honored in Mississippi, Georgia, and Virginia; Florida, North Carolina, and Louisiana do not observe any holidays; and Texas and Tennessee celebrate Presidents Day.

Leave a comment