Happy President’s Day!

President George Washington tries to make sense of the Metro.

President George Washington tries to make sense of the Metro. Still image from Mt Vernon’s web series of General Washington in modern DC.

Washington’s Birthday is observed the third Monday of February in honor George Washington, the first President of the United States. This date is commonly called Presidents’ Day and many groups honor the legacy of past presidents on this date.

Washington’s actual birthday, Feb. 22,  became a U.S. government holiday back in 1885. In the early 1950′s, there was a movement led by a coalition of travel organizations to create three-day weekends by moving the celebration of some holidays to Mondays. One of the suggestions was to create a Presidents’ Day between Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday, which was a holiday in some states. A few states tried the new arrangement, but it was not universally adopted across the country. Also in the early 1950′s there was a proposal to make March 4 — the original presidential inauguration day — a holiday to honor all presidents, but that went nowhere.

The National Holiday Act of 1971 passed by Congress created three-day weekends for federal employees by moving the celebration of some holidays to Mondays, although states did not have to honor them. 

General George Washington checks out the offerings at the food trucks parked near the White House.

General George Washington checks out the offerings at the food trucks parked near the White House.

Although the federal holiday is marked on the third Monday in February, there is no agreed-upon name, no universal agreement on who is being celebrated, and the use of the apostrophe in the name is varied: Sometimes it isn’t used at all (as in Presidents Day), sometimes it is placed between the last two letters (President’s Day) and sometimes it is after the last letter (Presidents’ Day).

So – wishing all a Happy Presidents’ Day, or President’s Day, or Presidents Day – or whatever.

US President George Washington Hearts England

Sunderland, England has had a long association with Washington, DC. General George Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789 and the United States Capitol City named ‘Washington” in his honor. George Washington was a descendant of the Washington family, which took its name from Wessyngton (now Washington) and resided at Washington Old Hall in Washington Village.



Washington Old Hall is a manor house in the Washington area of Tyne and Wear, in the North East of England.



Washington Old Hall incorporates parts of the original medieval home of George Washington’s direct ancestors. It was re-opened in 1955 by the US Ambassador, following restoration of the property which which was led by local schoolmaster and historian Frederick Hill. United States benefactors played a key role, donating funds and furniture to the project. Washington Old Hall is now managed by the National Trust with assistance from the Friends of Washington Old Hall.

Washington Glass School comes to Washington, England. Fulbrighters Tim Tate and Michael Janis at Washington Old Hall in March 2012.

The District of Columbia’s official “state” flag (adopted in 1938), is based on the shield from the Washington Coat of Arms. Early examples of the Washington Coat of Arms, dating back to the beginning of the 15th Century, can be seen on the cloister ceiling in Durham Cathedral.

US federal district (Washington, DC) flag consisting of a white field with two horizontal red stripes and three red stars above the stripes. The flag’s width-to-length ratio is 1 to 2.

It has often been said George Washington used his family coat of arms as the basis for the original American ‘Stars and Stripes’ flag.

Image from Library of Congress ‘An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera.’

As a result of these historic ties, Washington, D.C., and City of Sunderland had formed a “friendship agreement,” (originally in 2006 and renewed in 2012) with the intent of  creating cultural and economic ties with one another. Sunderland City is the only non-capital in the world to have such an agreement with the US Capitol. Working with the DC Sister Cities, the DCCAH and Artomatic, the two cities are collaborating in presenting an international glass and clay artwork exhibit opening March 1, 2013.

International Glass and Clay2013 will be open from Friday, March 1 to Friday, March 22. It is free for the public to attend. Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street (between G and H Street) will house the artworks and many of the events. Gallery hours are 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Gallery Place Metro station servicing the green, red and yellow lines is within close walking distance to the gallery.

♪ Happy Birthday, Mr President ♫

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All Hail To The Chief(s)!

Fun Facts about George & Abe:



George Washington’s dentures

George Washington FUN FACTS

–Admiring biographers make much of the fact that Washington turned down a salary from the Continental Congress and asked instead that he be paid only for his expenses as commander-in-chief. As it turns out, the general made a sound financial decision. If he had accepted the salary ($500 a month) he would have received a total of $48,00 for his service. As it was, his expense account during 8 years of war came to $447,220, according to the smallest estimate. Included in this total were sums for a new carriage, expensive saddles, and imported wines for his headquarters.

–When the capital was moved from New York to Philadelphia, Washington, who had been disappointed in the food that he had been eating as President, brought his black slave Hercules from Mount Vernon to serve as cook. Pennsylvania law provided that slaves be given their freedom after 6 months’ residence in the State. To avoid the possibility of losing the services of his master chef, Washington would send Hercules back to Mount Vernon just before the 6 months were up. Then, several weeks later, he would have him returned to the capital. Hercules, who soon won a reputation in Philadelphia as a flashy and colorful dresser, was much too smart to stand this arrangement for long. One night before the end of Washington‘s term he disappeared and much to the President’s disappointment was never heard from again.

–One of the most seriously misleading of the Washington legends is the story of the pious general kneeling in prayer in the snow at Valley Forge. Not only is there no evidence to support this tale, but Washington was notorious in his parish church for his refusal to kneel at any of the customary moments in the Episcopal service. As his minister declared disapprovingly after the President’s death, “Washington was a Deist.” Although Martha was a devout churchwoman, George never shared her enthusiasm. On communion Sundays he always walked out before taking the eucharist, leaving Martha to participate in the service alone.


In 1842, Abe was challenged to a duel. Abe won.

Abraham Lincoln FUN FACTS

Lincoln was never associated with any organized church, and as a young man in New Salem he had a reputation as an outspoken nonbeliever. Having read Thomas Paine, he liked to argue with friends against the tenets of conventional religion. In his 1846 congressional campaign, Lincoln’s unorthodox position became a campaign issue, and he offered the only public statement of his career on his religious convictions: That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general or of any denomination of Christians in particular.

–In 1842, Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel from James Shields, the Democratic State auditor. Shields was furious over a satiric letter in a local paper. Actually, the letter had been written by Lincoln‘s fiancée, Mary Todd, but Lincoln willingly took responsibility. Since he was given the choice of weapons, Lincoln, with typical cunning, selected broadswords–with his 6’4″ frame and his enormous arms, Lincoln had an insurmountable advantage over his diminutive opponent when it came to dueling with swords. Shields wisely decided to make up his differences with Lincoln and the scheduled duel failed to take place.

–The clutter in Lincoln‘s law office was notorious, and a continual source of irritation to his partner, William Herndon. On his desk, Lincoln kept one envelope marked “When you can’t find it anywhere else, look into this.”

–Frederick Douglass, the celebrated black abolitionist and former slave, was invited by Lincoln to the inaugural reception in 1865, but when Douglass tried to enter, policemen man-handled him and forced him back out. Making his way in again, he managed to catch Lincoln‘s eye. “Here comes my friend Douglass,” the President exclaimed, and, leaving his circle of guests, he took Douglass by the hand and began to chat with him.

–Once, shortly before his election to the Presidency, Lincoln reported that he was startled by a vision. As he lay down to rest, weary over a hard day of politics, he caught a glimpse of his face in a mirror–and was startled to see a double image of himself. The 2nd image in the mirror was pale, “like a dead man’s.” After a few days, when the same pair of images reappeared, he discussed the phenomenon with his wife. She interpreted it to mean that Lincoln would be elected to 2 terms as President, but that he would die during his 2nd term.

Presidential trivia facts from: www.trivia-library.com