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President's Day at the Lynchburg Museum
This Federal holiday began in 1885 as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday on February 22. With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday being February 12, Congress made the third Monday in February Presidents’ Day. The holiday to honor both men was created during the American Bicentennial in 1976. In Virginia, the holiday is generally called Presidents’ Day, but the Commonwealth formally honors only George Washington.
A number of future and sitting presidents have visited Lynchburg over the years. Thomas Jefferson was often here while at Poplar Forest. Andrew Jackson visited in 1815 and was celebrated for his victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans with a dinner for 300 people and 29 toasts. Mary Cabell noted that the “gentlemen became too elated” that evening.
Andrew Johnson was attacked and almost pulled from a train in 1861 as the Civil War unfolded but came back in 1869 to a lavish reception after his presidency. Future presidents Hayes and McKinley visited in 1864 as Union officers during the Battle of Lynchburg. Benjamin Harrison, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson all made whistle stop speeches from trains when running for office and the funeral train of Franklin D. Roosevelt passed by in 1945. Others who came to the Hill City included John F. Kennedy, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.