According to Wikipedia the Eighth celebrated United States' victory in battle of New Orleans over Great Britain in War of 1812. It was once larger celebration than Christmas. It was a federal holiday from 1828 to 1861.

What happened in 1861 caused it to lose its status as a United States federal holiday?

Obviously, American Civil War began in 1861 but what does it have to do with this holiday becoming forgotten?


  • 3
    Hi Jordan welcome to History SE. It would be helpful if you could link to sources for your assertions.
    – AllInOne
    Nov 2, 2016 at 20:49
  • Well, Maryland at least celebrates Defenders' Day, which is arguably about something more important.
    – Spencer
    Jan 17, 2022 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


An important thing to realize here is that this was effectively a holiday to celebrate Andrew Jackson, the commander of the US forces at the Battle of New Orleans. Andrew Jackson is also remembered by history as effectively the co-founder of the Democratic Party. So this was essentially a politically partisan holiday.

The Civil war effectively marked the eclipse of the Democratic Party in the United States for a while. Their base in the new Party System was now in the southern slave-holding states, and those states were no longer participating in the government. There were still some Northern Democrats, but they were split and weak. The Democratic party did not manage to acquire control of either house of Congress again for 15 years.

So it makes sense that the Republican party would use this as an opportunity to get rid of what was effectively a Democratic federal holiday.

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    @ProductionValues - I'm not sure what you are getting at with this comment. The time period given in the question clearly fits in the time of the second party system, and the very beginning of the third. If you'd like to know how the coalitions that make up the currently extant 2 parties have changed over time, that would be a completely separate question (and might be way too broad at that). This would be a good place to start.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 3, 2016 at 18:57
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    @ProductionValues - Rereading this, I think I was being a bit obtuse with you. The party systems are not exactly ubiquitous knowledge, and a request to try to squeeze in a word or three about this doesn't really seem unreasonable. Done.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 2, 2017 at 14:05
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    @MichaelHardy - I was unable to find a Public Act of Congress or a Presidential Proclamation to that effect within a year or two of the "1861" date. Perhaps someone better than I at this kind of thing can take a crack at it. It could be that the holiday just faded away organically on its own, which is what the newspaper link in my answer implies (in fact saying it was still being celebrated by a few in 1865, but perhaps only in the rebelling South)
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 17, 2022 at 22:51
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    @MichaelHardy: Is there any evidence there ever was a congressionally-approved Federal holiday on January 8? (If not, there is no reason to expect a congressional act abolishing one.) As far as I know, the first Federal holidays were introduced only in 1870. Jan 17, 2022 at 23:37
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    @MichaelHardy: It does not mean that Lincoln's decision meant anything besides him pardoning a turkey and his staff having a day of rest. The existing Federal Holidays owe their existence to a series of laws and Lincoln had no authority to enact ones. Also, there are many things that one reads repeatedly about, but under closer examination, they turn out to be misrepresentations of historic facts. Jan 18, 2022 at 7:05

It appears that the post is based on a mistake which can be traced to the linked Wikipedia page: That page claims that

The Eighth was a federal holiday in the United States from 1828 until 1861.

But, according to a more reputable source (the Congressional Research Service, here),

The first four congressionally designated federal holidays were created in 1870.

Incidentally, out of curiosity, I also checked another claim made by the same Wikipedia page:

Historians recall the celebrations [of the 8th] were larger than Christmas and were only surpassed by The Fourth.

The given reference

Herstein, Beth (January 8, 2010). "War Stories". New Orleans Living Magazine.

contains absolutely no such claims. (And the author of the paper is by no means a historian, but a self-described "freelance writer, attorney, columnist.")

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