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Presidents’ Day is the third Monday in February. This national holiday honors all of the presidents of the United States. However, it first began as a holiday to honor two specific presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
George Washington was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732. His family owned rich farmland. George grew to be a wealthy farmer and businessman. He built a small family farm into a large plantation called Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon became a 20-room mansion surrounded by 8,000 acres of land.
George Washington also was in the military. He was a general in the Revolutionary War. He helped the 13 colonies become free from England. After the war was won, the United States of America was born. George Washington helped write the U.S. Constitution. This served as the law for the new country.
In 1789, George Washington became the first president of the United States. He was president for eight years. In 1797, he retired to Mount Vernon. George Washington died there in 1799.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky on February 12, 1809. His family was poor. They lived in a log cabin built by Abe’s father. This small house measured 16 by 18 feet. Abe often went barefoot because his family could not afford shoes.
Abraham Lincoln did not go to school very often. In fact, the total number of days he went to school did not add up to a year. But, he did learn to read and write. Abe loved books! He read every book he could find and taught himself many subjects.
When he was 22, his family moved to Illinois. There Abe worked and lived in a store. He also was a postmaster. He later became a lawyer and a congressman. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth president of the United States.
Lincoln was president for four very difficult years. The northern states fought the southern states in the Civil War. The South wanted slavery. The North did not believe in slavery. During these tense times, Lincoln received more than 10,000 death threats.
Lincoln freed the slaves in 1864. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. Five days later, a man from the South assassinated President Lincoln. He shot and killed the president in Washington D.C.
Americans honor these two presidents in many ways. Some U.S. money has pictures of Washington and Lincoln on it. Many cities, schools, and streets have the names Washington or Lincoln. Many people visit the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.