History of Father’s Day


In the United States, the driving force behind the establishment of the celebration of Father’s Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, as a single parent raised his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, the anniversary of her father’s death, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June. The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington.

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Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. Woodrow Wilson was personally so feted by his family in 1916, and Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. The all-male U.S. Congress, however, was mindful that passing a measure so favorable to males could be seen as a conflict of interest. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson made Father’s Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until the presidency of Richard Nixon in 1972.