Lincoln and Santa Claus

Thomas Nast's 1861 drawing of Santa

Since this is President’s Day weekend, I was curious to know what Abraham Lincoln’s Christmas was like in the 1860’s.  According to the White House Christmas Card website, Lincoln worked on Christmas morning.  Earlier in his political career, when he was an Illinois legislator, he had voted not to establish Christmas Day as a holiday because he didn’t want to waste the taxpayers’ money.

I wonder what he would think of the lengthy recesses today?

It wasn’t until the next president, Ulysses S. Grant, that Christmas became a national holiday in 1870.  We can thank Lincoln, however, for establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday.  I don’t think that Lincoln and his wife did any Black Friday shopping, though.

Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly illustrator/cartoonist during Lincoln’s time, is credited with drawing the first images of Santa Claus as we imagine him today.  During the Civil War, Nast drew illustrations of Christmas and soldiers.  Strangely, it was after Lincoln’s death that Nast created several best-selling drawings of the Lincoln family celebrating Christmas.

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