Little Girl to Lincoln: “All the Ladies Like Whiskers”

Even among the distinguished company of former U.S. presidents, Abraham Lincoln’s portrait stands out. Nearly every schoolchild can pick out the 16th president, thanks his to tall, this frame, his long coat and stovepipe hat – and the distinctive beard on his chin.

The source of the president’s facial hair has been revealed as an 11-year-old girl who wrote a letter to the then-Republican presidential candidate and urged him to grow a beard because ‘all the ladies like whiskers.’

Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, penned a letter to Lincoln in October 1860 suggesting that he would have a better chance of getting elected if he grew a beard, Mental Floss magazine reports. The story of Lincoln’s trademark beard has become a source of national interest after the release – and success – of Steven Spielberg’s newest film, ‘Lincoln.’ Daniel Day Lewis takes on the role of the battle-hardened president as he lead the nation through the brutal Civil War.

‘You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin,’ she said. ‘All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.’ Women weren’t allowed to vote at the time, and did not gain the right until 1920.

Remarkably, the Illinois Senator promptly wrote her back. ‘As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now’
He did not promise her a beard, but photographs from the era reveal he stopped shaving shortly after the letter was written.

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