The passage of the Uniform Monday Federal Holiday Law in 1968 triggered an avalanche that would bury "the father of our country," along with his guiding virtues and reminders of how and why the U.S. was born.
Washington inspired his contemporaries and countless American s since, motivating others to emulate him. Washington set the gold standard for presidents and private character. "His example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting," wrote John Marshall in Washington's official eulogy. "The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues."
And, "More than any other," says Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., Washington "made possible our republican form of government."
When we grew up, celebrating George Washington's birthday was a big deal, and you couldn't help but be inspired by him. We studied him, what he stood for and what he did to bring America to fruition. Mary Beth's grandmother, a patriotic American if you ever met one, loved that she shared the same birth date with Washington, always having a birthday cake covered with cherries and American flags.
When faced with the crisis of the Civil War, a council from Philadelphia came begging Washington's Farewell Address be read as a morale booster and bulwark to a teetering and fear-filled country. Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson introduced the petition in the Senate. "In view of the perilous condition of the country," he said, "I think the time has arrived when we should recur back to the days, the times, and the doings of Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, who founded the government under which we live."
In his Farewell Address, Washington's advice to the nation was to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, protect American independence and encourage morality and religion. The reading of the Farewell Address in the Senate remains an annual event, even if his advice is ignored there.
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