Today We Honor Presidents of Our Great Nation

Happy Presidents Day!

Presidents Day is a holiday meant to honor the Presidents who have led our great nation and to remember the values on which our country was founded.

About Presidents Day

There have been 46 Presidents of the United States, dating back to George Washington, who served as the first President from 1789 to 1797. Of those 46, four have direct ties to Illinois and can claim it as their home state. One President, Ronald Reagan, was born in Illinois and graduated from Eureka College before moving out of state to pursue a broadcasting career at age 21.

Illinois boasts three of the top 10 Presidents of all-time, including No. 1 Abraham Lincoln. Ranking the popularity of all the U.S. Presidents is not a simple task, but in 2021 C-SPAN conducted a Presidential Historians Survey that included the summation of ratings by close to 100 biographers and historians. Ten qualities of leadership were measured. Ronald Reagan (No. 9) and Barack Obama (No. 10) also made the top 10 list, while Ulysses Grant was at No. 20. labeled Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as “arguably the most-quoted, most-memorized piece of oratory in American history.” Lincoln, the 16th President, scored highest due to his pursued equal justice for all, vision, administrative skills, and crisis leadership. Reagan, the 40th President, was noted for his public persuasion and two major income tax cuts – the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. 

Lincoln was born in Kentucky and came to Illinois with his family at the age of 21 in 1830. His travels in Illinois took him to Macon County and New Salem near Petersburg before his entrance into the political world brought him to the state capitol at the time, Vandalia, and then Springfield. Grant moved from Ohio to Galena in 1860, and nine years later he settled in for an eight-year term in the White House. 

Reagan was born in tiny Tampico before growing up in Dixon and graduating from Eureka College. 

Presidents’ Day is observed on the third Monday in February in the U.S. The holiday was first established in 1885 to observe Washington’s Birthday on February 22. Congress established the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, which promoted the idea of three-day weekends for the workforce and shifted holiday observances to Mondays. Washington’s Birthday soon moved to its new home on the third Monday of February, and now it was even closer in proximity to President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12.

Over the years and into the 1980s, the Washington’s Birthday holiday became known as “Presidents’ Day” and is now an observed national federal holiday. Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, and Presidents’ Day can all be recognized in different ways depending on which state you live in, with Illinois recognizing Lincoln’s Birthday as a state holiday.

“The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

George Washington