Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Benjamin Harrison's Columbus Day

"WHEREAS, by joint resolution, approved June 29, 1892, it was resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, 'That the President of the United States be authorized and directed to issue a proclamation recommending to the people the observance in all their localities of the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, on the twenty-first day of October, 1892, by public demonstrations and by suitable exercises in their schools and other places of assembly.'

"Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States of America, in pursuance of the aforesaid joint resolution, do hereby appoint Friday, October 21, 1892, the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, as a general holiday for the people of the United States...

"Columbus stood in his age as the pioneer of progress and achievement. The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the day's demonstration. Let the national flag float over every school-house in the country, and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.

"In the churches and in other places of assembly of the people let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the discoverer, and for the Divine care and guidance which has directed our history, and so abundantly blessed our people."

October 21 because that was the date using the Georgian calendar (New Style) to correct for the Julian calender date (Old Style) of October 12, 1492, just as George Washington celebrated his birthday on February 22 N.S. to be mathematically correct, though he was born on February 11 O.S. The day did not become a federal holiday until 1937, at which time Congress thought it fit to move the day to October 12.

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