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Lincoln’s Beard

Another little known holiday is approaching on December 7th, Letter Writing Day. I felt this might be a fun time to retell a story of a famous letter that could possible inspire you to write and send a letter of your own.

October of 1860, in the town of Westfield, New York, an eleven-year-old girl had a brilliant idea that she just couldn’t keep to herself. The presidential election was in full swing and spread on the cover of every newspaper. Pictures of the candidates giving their speeches and onlookers’ opinions of them could not be avoided. That’s when Grace had her inspired thought. “That Mr. Lincoln has such a thin face. He would be much more handsome if he were to grow a beard.”

Mr. Lincoln with no beard

So she put her thoughts to paper.

“I have four brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you will 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 were a man I would vote for you.”

Author Inner Thought: Grace Bedell was 71 when women were granted the right to vote. She lived to be 87. Makes you smile, doesn’t it?

Mr. Lincoln did, in fact, write Ms. Bedell back four days later. He mentioned that growing a beard might be seen as a senseless affectation. However, the following year, the newly elected President visited Westfield, New York sporting a full beard, addressing the crowd.

President Lincoln sporting a fancy beard

Some three months ago, I received a letter from a young lady here; it was a very pretty letter, and she advised me to let my whiskers grow, as it would improve my personal appearance; acting partly upon her suggestion, I have done so; and now, if she is here, I would like to see her.”

To the crowd’s delight, Grace was spotted and ushered forward. That’s when Grace Bedell met President Lincoln. It just goes to show what can happen when you write a letter.

Grace Bedell meets President Lincoln

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