Father’s Day began in 1910, two years after the first official celebration of Mother’s Day in the U.S. The holiday began thanks to a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who had been raised with her siblings by her widower father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. Inspired by how her father rose to the challenge of parenting alone, Sonora Smart Dodd thought there should be a special day to recognize dads as well as moms, according to History.com.
She campaigned local government officials, churches and other local organizations, and in 1910, Washington state celebrated its first official Father’s Day on June 19, marking the first Father’s Day celebration in the country.
Over the next several decades, Smart Dodd continued her campaign to make Father’s Day a nationally recognized holiday. Multiple presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolige, recognized the significance of the day, but it wasn’t until 1970 that Congress passed a joint resolution that would authorize the president to designate the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
“The President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling on the appropriate Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on such day, inviting the governments of the States and communities and the people of the United States to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies,” the resolution read, “and urging our people to offer public and private expressions of such day to the abiding love and gratitude which they bear for their fathers.”