The History of Fathers DayWho invented Fathers Day? While there are at least two or three different people with that honor attributed to them, most historians consider that Sonora Smart Dodd, of Washington State, was the first person to think up the holiday in 1910.
Sonora Dodd's father was a civil war veteran named William Smart. Dodd's mother died giving birth to her sixth child. That left William Smart a widower with five children to raise on his own. When Sonora Dodd married and had her own children, she realized what a tremendous job her father had done in raising her and her siblings as a single parent.
After hearing her Pastor give a sermon about the newly established Mother's Day, Sonora Dodd suggested to her Pastor that there should also be a Fathers Day and suggested that the date should be June 5, her father's birthday. However, that was too soon for the Pastor to prepare a sermon and he moved the date to June 19, the third Sunday of the month.
Ways of Celebrating Fathers DayOne of the early ways established to celebrate Fathers Day was to wear a flower. Sonora Dodd suggested wearing a red rose if your father was still living, and wearing a white flower if your father was deceased. Later a special activity, gift, or a card to one's father became commonplace.
Dodd spent years promoting the celebration of Fathers Day nationally. She elicited the help of the manufacturers of goods for men, those who might benefit from a Father's Day, the makers of ties, tobacco pipes, and other potential gifts suitable for fathers.
In 1938, a Fathers Day Council was founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to help with the commercial promotion of Father's Day. But the public was still resisting the idea of a Father's Day. Many Americans believed Fathers Day was just another way to make money by retailers, after the popularity of Mothers Day led to the successful sale of gifts for mothers.
Making Fathers Day OfficialAs early as 1913, bills had been submitted to congress to pass the national recognition of Father's Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson heavily promoted making Father's Day official, but he could not muster enough support from Congress. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that Father's Gay be observed by the nation, but did not go so far as to issue a national proclamation.
In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "singling out just one of our two parents". Finally in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation that made the third Sunday of June, Fathers Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon made Fathers Day a permanent national holiday.