Did Abraham Lincoln’s beard win him the election?
When we think of President Lincoln, the classic image that enters our mind is probably the iconic stovepipe hat, sunken cheeks, hairless top lip and distinctive dark beard. But, actually, during much of Lincoln’s 1860 presidential campaign, he was completely clean-shaven and had been so his entire life. So, what prompted the face-fuzz? Rather charmingly, he had received a letter in October from an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell who’d cheekily recommended: “let your whiskers grow…[as] you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin”. is, she thought, would better woo the ladies, who would then convince their husbands to vote for him. Kindly, Lincoln responded: “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a silly aectation if I were to begin it now?” is seemed to be a gentle ‘thanks-but-no-thanks’, and yet – within a month – the gangly politician had sprouted his now-celebrated beard. In truth, it’s hard to imagine that a bit of facial hair inﬂuenced the election result, but Grace Bedell’s suggestion undoubtedly made Lincoln one of the most instantly recognisable, and therefore iconic, men in American history, and – perhaps to say thank you – the new President made sure to meet Grace in person when he visited her home town of Westﬁeld, New York in 1861.