Horowitz: Presidents Day is Really About Honoring the Legacy of One Man

Source: Conservative Review | February 15, 2016 | Daniel Horowitz
Before George Washington’s birthday was hijacked and replaced with a generic “Presidents Day,” February 22 was a day to celebrate the father of our country. Because Washington refused to become king and instead opted to humbly serve his country as its first elected president, the observance of his birthday is really a celebration of our Constitution and the entire republican system of governance upon which our nation depends.  In that sense, Presidents Day is truly a day to recognize we are a Republic, not a monarchy.

In a revolutionary break from the rest of the 18th century political world, the newly-crafted Constitution vested the president with executive authority to “faithfully executive the laws,” not craft the laws.  When contrasting the power of a king from that of a president, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #69 that “[T]he one [a president] can confer no privileges whatever; the other [a king] can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies.”   

How far we have fallen that we now have a president who confers all sorts of privileges including “making denizens of aliens;” the very example of legislative authority Hamilton promised the people of New York would not be vested in the office of chief executive.


When the president no longer believes religion is needed to maintain morality and when much of the society agrees with that view, there is nothing keeping the most powerful man in the country from acting despotically.  Yet ironically, and thankfully for all of us, the one president who could have been a king was guided by the religious virtues to place the interests of the republic over his own power or ambition.  Nobody expressed the importance of George Washington better than Calvin Coolidge during a 1927 speech honoring our first president:     

His was the directing spirit without which there would have been no independence, no Union, no Constitution, and no Republic. His ways were the ways of truth. He built for eternity. His influence grows. His stature increases with the increasing years. In wisdom of action, in purity of character, he stands alone. We can not yet estimate him. We can only indicate our reverence for him and thank the Divine Providence which sent him to serve and inspire his fellow men.

We can only hope and pray that in 339 days our society is virtuous enough to elect a president who is endowed with a fraction of Washington’s religious virtue and guiding principles.

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