2. Presidents' Day

George Washington, by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1853 (Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC09119.01)Presidents’ Day, celebrated on the third Monday in February, recognizes the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, ten days apart from each other.

Spotlights on Primary Sources

Gilder Lehrman curators explain and explore documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

Online Exhibitions

Inside the Vault Videos

Inside the Vault: Highlights from the Gilder Lehrman Collection is a free monthly online program that highlights unique primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, led by Institute curators and special guest historians. The Inside the Vault archive is rich with past programs centered on American presidents. Enjoy these classroom-friendly explorations, all whose pages include additional resources for study:

History U Courses

History U offers free, self-paced courses in American history to high school students led by the nation’s top historians. Courses most relevant to President's Day are

Lesson Plans

  • “George Washington’s Rules of Civility”: Examine and apply George Washington’s rules of civility.
  • “The First Inaugural Address of George Washington”: Students will develop a thorough knowledge of the text and the ideas President George Washington wished to convey to the first Congress.
  • “Lincoln’s First and Second Inaugural Addresses”: Over the course of this lesson, students will examine Lincoln’s presidential aims in his first and second inaugural addresses and then compare and contrast the similarities and differences of texts to determine how his goals changed between the first and the second inaugurations.
  • “Washington’s Farewell Address”: Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words.
  • “The Gettysburg Address”: Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of the content of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of 1863.