Mother’s Day may get more attention, but Father’s Day also has a lot of history embedded in it.
The original idea for creating a day to honor their fathers began with Spokane, Washington, resident Sonora Smart in 1909. After the death of her mother, she and her siblings were raised by their father and Smart wanted to honor the parental sacrifices he made for his children. Since her father was born in June, Smart chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration on June 19, 1910.
Several more celebrations were later held in Spokane, but the tradition stopped when Smart left to attend school in Chicago. When she returned, she again began promoting the day — this time, nationally.
Her strategic efforts included working with business groups that would profit from such a holiday, such as men’s clothing and tobacco companies. However, commercial promotion of the holiday led to many believing it was shallow.
President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make the holiday official, but its commercial nature caused Congress to not pass the bill. President Calvin Coolidge also made an attempt, but it was not until Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine, stated that it was unfair to honor mothers and not fathers, that the day finally got some attention.
The National Father’s Day Committee was formed in New York City in 1926. President Lyndon Johnson created a presidential proclamation in 1966 to observe the day on the third Sunday of June and President Richard Nixon established it as a national holiday in 1972.