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Robert E. Lee's Birthday in the United States

Robert E. Lee’s birthday, also known as Robert E. Lee Day, is a state holiday in some parts of the United States. In some states it is an annual shared state holiday with Martin Luther King’s birthday on the third Monday of January.

Is Robert E. Lee's Birthday a Public Holiday?

Robert E. Lee's Birthday 2022 is a state holiday in Alabama and Mississippi, a state legal holiday in Florida, and a state observance in Arkansas.

Robert E. Lee (statue pictured above) is remembered on the third Monday of January in some states.

©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital

Different Dates

Robert E. Lee’s birthday may not be an official public holiday in all states, but many remember his life and achievement on either the third Monday of January or January 19, which is his actual birthday.

Lee-Jackson Day is a state holiday in Virginia on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day to honor both Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

In Georgia, they commemorate Lee's birthday on the day after Thanksgiving, which is a state holiday in another 22 states, and is on the same day as Black Friday.

Who Was Robert E. Lee?

Robert E. Lee was a commander of the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861–1865). He was born in Stratford, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. His father was known as “Light Horse Harry Lee”, a Revolutionary War hero. Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point, earning no demerits for discipline infractions during his year there.

Lee is also remembered as part of Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Heroes Day, which falls in different times of the year, depending on the states.

Buinesses Open or Closed?

Robert E. Lee's birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Mississippi. It is a legal holiday, but not a paid holiday, in Florida. Some states combine the holiday with Martin Luther King’s birthday, but state holiday regulations may change over the years.

How Do People Celebrate?

Robert E. Lee’s birthday is celebrated in different ways, such as marches, parades, wreath-laying ceremonies, and musket salutes. Many publications run editorial notes to commemorate the commander's achievements. It is also customary for some state governors to proclaim the holiday to the general public.

Robert E. Lee's Achievements

Robert E. Lee’s first military action after graduation from West Point was in the war with Mexico, in 1845.He met and worked with later key-players in the Civil War, including James Longstreet, Ulysses S. Grant, George Pickett, and Thomas J. Jackson. Prior to the Civil War, Lee worked as an army engineer. He helped build the waterfront in St Louis and coastal forts in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia. He was appointed Superintendent of West Point in 1852, and he is considered one of the best superintendents in the institution's history.

Abraham Lincoln, who later became president of the United States, offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union Army in 1861, but Lee refused. He would not raise arms against his native state. Lee resigned his commission and headed home to Virginia, where he served as adviser to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, and then commanded the Army of Northern Virginia.

After the four years of the war's death and destruction, Robert E. Lee met Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, where the generals ended their battles. Lee told his comrades, “Go home and be good Americans.”

Lee was appointed president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, in 1865. The school was later renamed to include his name in his honor. He died of a heart attack at Washington-Lee College on October 12, 1870, and he is buried in a chapel on the school grounds with his family.

Various monuments, heritage sites, schools, and other institutions are named after General Robert E. Lee. Political leaders in modern history have been quoted to honor him. For example, Winston Churchill once said that Robert E. Lee was one of the noblest Americans who ever lived. Lee's motto is known to be “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Robert E. Lee's Birthday Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2017MonJan 16Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAL, AR, MS
2017ThuJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2018MonJan 15Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2018FriJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2018SatOct 13Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2019SatJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2019MonJan 21Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2019SatOct 12Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2020SunJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2020MonJan 20Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2020SatOct 10Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2021MonJan 18Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2021TueJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2021SatOct 9Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2022MonJan 17Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2022WedJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2022SatOct 8Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2023MonJan 16Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2023ThuJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2023SatOct 14Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2024MonJan 15Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2024FriJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2024SatOct 12Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2025SunJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2025MonJan 20Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2025SatOct 11Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2026MonJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2026MonJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2026SatOct 10Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas
2027MonJan 18Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState HolidayAlabama, Mississippi
2027TueJan 19Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState Legal HolidayFlorida
2027SatOct 9Robert E. Lee's BirthdayState ObservanceArkansas

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.