Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Abraham Lincoln's First Beard at 51 Years Old in November 1860. The Grace Bedell letter.

Abraham Lincoln's first whiskers. The photograph was taken Sunday, November 25, 1860, by Samuel G. Alschuler in Chicago, Illinois.
The picture of the President-elect with a half-beard is a unique portrait. It was preserved by Henry C. Whitney, a youthful attorney who had traveled the Illinois circuit with Lincoln. Some thirty years later, it turned up in the files of Chicago photographer C. D. Mosher and was saved from destruction by Herman Herbert Wells Fay, a custodian of the Lincoln Tomb.
On October 15, 1860, a few weeks before Lincoln was elected President of the United States, Grace Bedell sent him a letter from Westfield, New York, urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance. Lincoln responded in a letter on October 19, 1860, making no promises. However, within a month, he grew a full beard.

Grace Bedell's letter:
The Honorary A. Lincoln

Dear Sir,  
My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only 11 years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have yet got four brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and 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. 
All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to [sic] but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauqua County New York. 
I must not write any more answer this letter right off. Good bye.

Grace Bedell
Lincoln made no promises in his reply to Bedell's letter:
Springfield, Ill Oct 19, 1860
Miss Grace Bedell,

My dear little Miss, your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters. I have three sons – one seventeen, one nine, and one seven, years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a silly affectation if I were to begin it now?

Your very sincere well wisher. 
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. There are no words for such correspondence. Bedell’s letter is so well-written for her age. My greatest take-away from this post is what a kind man Lincoln truly was. The manner in which he addresses her, and her concerns. The sweetest part, she “bribes” him with potential voters if he obliges her request. Funny. A major point that she so eloquently — age 11 — states, “if I were a man”. Puts into perspective the actually of what a privilege voting was, and what many had to endure to secure that precious right for all of us today. Thank you


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