Robert E. Lee Day
Also calledLee's Birthday
Observed by
TypeState holiday
SignificanceConfederate General in Chief's birthday
DateThird Monday in January
2023 dateJanuary 16  (2023-01-16)
2024 dateJanuary 15  (2024-01-15)
2025 dateJanuary 20  (2025-01-20)
2026 dateJanuary 19  (2026-01-19)
Related to

Robert E. Lee Day is a state holiday in parts of the Southern US, commemorating the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.[1] It is rooted in the rise of the Lost Cause myth prevalent throughout the Southern United States, as Lee was a central figure in Lost Cause mythology due to his social status, military exploits, and personality.[2]

Current observances

In Tennessee, January 19 (Lee's birthday) was established as a holiday in 1917. In 1969, it was changed to a "special day of observation" in the state. Since then, state law requires the governor to proclaim each January 19 "Robert E. Lee Day".[3][4]

Texas made "Lee Day" a holiday in 1931.[5] In 1973, "Lee Day" was renamed Confederate Heroes Day.[6]

Florida Statute 683.01(d) marks January 19 as Robert E. Lee Day, although no offices or schools close down for it.[7]

Alabama[8] and Mississippi[9][10] observe it on the third Monday in January, in order to split the date with the federal holiday Martin Luther King Jr. Day.[11]

Past observances

Arkansas combined the observance of Robert E. Lee Day with Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1985, after two years of requiring state employees to select between the two holidays or their own birthday as a day off from work.[12] In 2017, it passed a law removing General Lee's name from the January holiday; the law also established a state memorial day on the second Saturday of October in honor of Lee.[13]

Virginia observed a holiday honoring Lee on January 19 from 1889 until 1904, at which time Stonewall Jackson was added to the observance and the holiday renamed Lee–Jackson Day. The combined holiday was observed on the Friday preceding the third Monday in January. In 1983, the holiday was merged with Martin Luther King Jr. Day when the latter became a federal holiday. In 2020, with a Democratic governor and both houses of the state legislature controlled by Democrats, the observance of Lee–Jackson Day was abolished.[14]

Georgia formerly called the Friday after Thanksgiving Robert E. Lee Day; now it is only an unnamed paid holiday.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Berkow, Ira (November 10, 1990). "Sports of the Times: Dr. King and the Super Bowl". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  2. ^ "Memorialization of Robert E. Lee and the Lost Cause - Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)". National Park Service. September 14, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  3. ^ "Tennessee Gubernatorial Proclamation of January 3, 2013" (PDF).
  4. ^ Allison, Natalie (July 12, 2019). "Gov. Bill Lee Signs Nathan Bedford Forrest Day Proclamation, Is Not Considering Law Change." The Tennessean ( Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  5. ^ "TEXAS CONFEDERATE HEROES DAY AND CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL DAY" (PDF). Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy. "House Bill 126, 42nd Legislature Regular Session. Chapter 8. Approved and Effective January 30, 1931 as Robert E. Lee's Birthday.; Senate Bill 60, 63rd Legislature Regular Session. Chapter 221. Approved June 1, 1973 and Effective August 27, 1973 as Confederate Heroes Day. This bill deleted June 3rd as a holiday for Jefferson Davis' birthday and combined the two into Confederate Heroes Day."
  6. ^ Rodriguez, Jakob; Gray, Japhanie (January 19, 2021). "What is Confederate Heroes Day and why do Texans still celebrate it today?". KSAT - Omne - Graham Media Group. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  7. ^ Company, Tampa Publishing (January 19, 2016). "Today in Florida, it's Robert E. Lee Day". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  8. ^ Little, Becky (January 13, 2017). "The Controversial History of Martin Luther King Day". National Geographic. Archived from the original on May 16, 2021. Retrieved November 16, 2022. Three states celebrate civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Civil War General Robert E. Lee on the same day.
  9. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (January 14, 2017). Written at New York. "Mississippi city faces backlash after calling MLK Day 'Great Americans Day'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved January 16, 2017. The incident, however, highlighted an awkward truth about Mississippi's Martin Luther King Jr Day: that it is also Robert E Lee Day.
  10. ^ "Mississippi State Holidays". Mississippi Secretary of State. January 17, 2023. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  11. ^ "Governor: Right to split King, Lee day". Magnolia Banner News. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  12. ^ "Arkansas Ends Robert E. Lee-Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday". NBC News. Associated Press. March 22, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  13. ^ Associated Press (March 17, 2017). "Arkansas lawmakers vote to remove Robert E. Lee from holiday honoring MLK". Politico. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  14. ^ Rankin, Sarah (February 24, 2020). "Va. Lawmakers Pass Bill Ending Lee-Jackson Holiday". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  15. ^ Bluestein, Greg (November 24, 2017). "Why today is no longer Robert E. Lee day in Georgia". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on August 23, 2018.

Further reading