George Washington’s Birthday was originally recognized in the 1880s and was established as a federal holiday to honor him as the first president. The term Presidents’ Day was informally coined in a deliberate attempt to use the holiday to honor multiple presidents.
The first attempt to create a Presidents Day occurred in 1951 when then the “President’s Day National Committee” was formed by Harold Stonebridge Fischer of Compton, California, who became its National Executive Director for the next two decades. The purpose was not to honor any particular President, but to honor the office of the Presidency. It was first thought that March 4, the original inauguration day, should be deemed Presidents Day. However, the bill recognizing the March 4th date was stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee (who had authority over national holidays), who felt that because of its proximity to Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be unduly burdensome. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved a number of federal holidays to Mondays. The change was designed to schedule certain holidays so that workers had a number of long weekends throughout the year. The debate on the bill was to allow Washington’s Birthday to be renamed Presidents’ Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, which itself was not celebrated as an official federal holiday. Congress rejected the name change. However, after the bill went into effect in 1971, Presidents’ Day became the commonly accepted name and was to be recognized on the third Monday of February.
President’s Day is a misspelling when used with the intention of celebrating more than one individual. Presidents’ Day is usually marked by public ceremonies in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country.
Information from Britannica Encyclopedia & The World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia