On This Day: How Lincoln Got His Beard

Future President Abraham Lincoln had yet to grow his iconic facial fuzz when he received a letter from Grace Bedell - an 11 year-old resident of Westfield, New York - dated 15th October, 1860.  “I have yet got four brothers... 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”, she wrote. “All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”


When Lincoln returned to Westfield (having just been elected), he had grown a beard - and thanked Bedell personally for the suggestion.


In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how jibes about Lincoln’s appearance had become part of his Presidential campaign; explain the origin of ‘sideburns’; and uncover the surprising story of how Lincoln’s beard lead to the creation of MB Games…


(Plus, for our supporters on Patreon* and our paid subscribers on Apple Podcasts, we discuss the SECOND letter Grace Bedell wrote to Lincoln in 1864, requesting his help gaining a job with the Treasury so that she could financially support her parents. Sign up now to hear it at patreon.com/Retrospectors)

*top two tiers only.


Further Reading:

• ‘The Surprising Reason Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard’ (Biography, 2020): https://www.biography.com/news/abraham-lincoln-beard

• ‘Grace Bedell: Abraham Lincoln grew beard after girl, 11, wrote to him and said 'all the ladies like whiskers'’ (Mail Online, 2012): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2240765/Grace-Bedell-Abraham-Lincoln-grew-beard-girl-11-wrote-said-ladies-like-whiskers.html

• ‘The Interesting Story Behind Lincoln's Beard’ (Today I Found Out, 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJRrusMBGxU 


For bonus material and to support the show, visit Patreon.com/Retrospectors

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

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