Washington’s birthday was celebrated for many decades before it became an official national holiday on January 31, 1879. President Lincoln was one of those who believed it should be declared a national holiday.
Lincoln read Mason Locke Weem’s popular Life of George Washington early in his life. Weem’s fanciful presentation of the first president as a humble-born boy inspired Lincoln to believe a poor boy such as himself could become a great president.
Abraham Lincoln was a wealthy, well-connected attorney by the time he ran for president in 1859, but he ran as Honest Abe the Rail Splitter.
Source: Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss