On March 16, 1793, George Washington’s General Order to his troops granted St. Patrick’s Day to be a holiday.
According to John C. Fitzpatrick who edited “The Writings of George Washington,” the General Order was prompted by an action of the Irish Parliament, which “had petitioned Great Britain for the removal of trade restrictions,” to which “Lord North had announced in the British Parliament that the petition would most likely receive favorable consideration.”
St. Patrick’s Day was not just celebrated in the army — a reference exists to one Irish indentured servant celebrating it at Mount Vernon as well. A weekly work report from March 20, 1790, for Mount Vernon’s joiners and carpenters records an absence “By Thomas Mahony keeping St. Patricks [sic] day, and 3 days absent on his own Acct [account].”
Whether Mahoney was sleeping off St. Patrick’s Day during the proceeding “3 days absent” we may never know …