It is probably the most famous beard in American history. There are more portraits of it than any other beard. Right now, you probably have a couple folded in your wallet and several jingling in your pocket.
And while Abraham Lincoln’s whiskers are iconic, it may come as a surprise that, at one time, “Honest Abe” was sporting a rather clean-faced look.
In fact, it wasn’t until an 11-year-old girl suggested to Lincoln that he grow a beard that he did.
Because little girls know everything, and a wise man listens.
By the time 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, saw her first photograph of then-presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, she already knew she wanted him as her next president. However, Bedell wasn’t feeling too good about his chances, looking as he did. The young girl was quite confident he could boost his approval ratings if he followed her advice and made one slight change.
So, on October 15, 1860, she wrote a letter to a man on the verge of greatness and gave him some advice.
“If you let your whiskers grow, I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin”reads the letter published by Letters of Note. “All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you, and then you would be president,” writes the witty tween.
Three days later, the lawyer from Springfield penned his reply himself.
“As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well-wisher, A. Lincoln.”
On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, with a full beard and a heart full of gratitude for Grace Bedell (who we would like to believe went on to become America’s first style coach.)
Lincoln kept the whiskers for the rest of his life. They became as much a part of his iconic as his stovepipe hat.
Yep, little girls are right; they do know everything.