In 1879, Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey (R-Arkansas) raised a motion to include George Washington’s birthday (February 22) as one of the existing federal holidays earlier approved in 1870. Referred to as the original “American Idol” by the Prologue, he was so picked due to the enormity of his contributions to the American state in his capacity both as a Statesman and a military tycoon, but especially as the first president who laid the foundation for the world’s most iconic presidency.
While the bill to remember Washington’s birthday was signed into law on January 31, 1879, by President Rutherford B. Hayes, it wasn’t until 1968 that it became a national holiday. Due to a number of reasons, Congress thought it wise to permanently draft some holidays to be celebrated on Monday through a law named the Uniform Monday Holiday Act — a decision ultimately okayed by President Lyndon Johnson. George Washington’s birthday was one of those holidays.
Washington’s rise from the back end of America’s rusty, dusty farmlands tending his mother’s farm due to inability to further his education in England owing to his father’s death at age 11 is an epic. Not content with the ordinary life, Washington taught himself the skills he later used to fashion America’s political system the way he did. Through actively reading books and newspapers, Washington became a knowledgeable fellow, consequently enabling him to lay the foundation for the institution of the American Presidency.
According to Mount Vernon, no president had accomplished more during their Presidency than Washington.
This is because by the end of his first 100 days on September 29, 1789, “the new government had passed the Bill of Rights; established the principle of national taxation; designed the nation’s court system; and created the first executive departments. This list of accomplishments is remarkable, but it does not even include the greatest achievement of Washington’s first one hundred days: he established the very office of president, thereby giving legitimacy to the new federal government under the Constitution.”
Washington’s towering achievements as Head of State are not just heroic, they are of great historical significance.
It is exactly for this reason that Russell Shorto thinks that President Donald Trump is a contradiction to the memory of George Washington’s days setting up the Oval Office. Writing in the Think section of NBC News, Shorto argued that Trump’s leadership style was totally contradictory to the refined, decorous and uniting leadership skills of Washington.
“The very things that Washington consciously stamped upon the office are what Trump has defiled. Shocked reactions to Trump’s presidency are as much a response to the way he has conducted himself as to what he has done. From ‘Lock her up’ to ‘Little Rocket Man,’ from ‘Pocahontas’ to ‘s**thole countries,’ Trump’s statements ridicule and undermine Washington’s determination that the president ‘maintain the dignity of Office.'”
Washington’s historic achievements will remain indelible in the annals of American society.