Here’s a question –

President Abraham Lincoln was 6 feet 4 inches tall.  That’s tall! 

So, if he was already so tall, why did he also wear such a tall stovepipe hat?

Well, according to Mr. Lincoln, for him it had a number of very practical uses:

1) When he was on the road and he needed to write notes, he used it as a desk.

2)If he needed to store his datebook or letters, he used the tall, stiff hat as a file drawer.

3) When he had an idea, he would scribble a note to himself and place it in his hat band. Very interesting, a hat that subs as a desk, a filing cabinet, and a briefcase.  Maybe we should clear all of the furniture out of our offices and just use instead a tall hat – naaa!

And here’s another Lincoln oddity. 

If you look at the Abe Lincoln photos around the time of his running for president, if you look early on in the race, you will see a clean-shaven face – Mr. Lincoln had no beard.  According to my research, he never had had a beard before.

So, why did Abraham Lincoln grow his first beard all the way at age 51? and who suggested it to him?  His wife?  His campaign manager?  The answer will surprise you.

According to Mr. Lincoln’s memoirs, during the Presidential Election he received a letter from a young girl – her name was Grace Bedell. She was 11 years old, and she lived in Westfield, NY.

Here is part of that letter.

Hon A B Lincoln…

Dear Sir

My father has just come home from the fair and he brought home your picture.  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 won’t 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 them to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. 

I have 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 too but I will try to get everyone to vote for you that I can.

Grace Bedell

Well, Mr. Lincoln did get that letter.  He read it and did respond.  Here is what Mr. Lincoln’s reply letter said:

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

A Lincoln

So, what happened?  Mr. Lincoln grew a beard.

Look at the pictures here, and you will see the progression. 

In a picture just one month after Grace’s letter, you can see Mr. Lincoln with a beard beginning to grow – but by February 1861, as our new 16th President of the United States, you can see his presidential picture with a full beard.

After his Election, He took the train from Springfield, IL on his way to Washington DC for his inauguration.  He took that train for 10 days, stopping, visiting with all his well-wishers, giving speeches, having a great time. But he made one very special stop – to Westfield, NY – to see little Grace Bedell and to thank her. 

As he stopped at the station, standing at the back of the train, after a few words spoken to the crowd, Mr. Lincoln announced that he was looking for a special friend in the crowd, Grace Bedell.  Was she there?

Of course, she was.  She was lead through the crowd up to Mr. Lincoln.

This is what Grace later recalled of their meeting.  She said: “He climbed down and sat down with me on the edge of the station platform; ‘Grace’, he said, ‘Look at my whiskers.  I have been growing them for you’.  Then he kissed me”. 

What a great story, what a great President!  I would surely love to see Mr. Lincoln in our Presidential Race today, wouldn’t you?

About Jerry Stewart

I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us.  To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old.  So, here’s where the stories have taken me.  In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State.  Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.

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“The Most Famous Tea Party in History”

    We’ve all heard of the Boston Tea Party, but few really know just what happened. The year was 1763 and Great Britain had just ended a war known as the “Seven Years War”, and this war had driven the British government so deep into debt that a series of tax laws were passed to help pay that debt – and these laws made their way to America.

Now, the way the colonists saw it was that they had no say or representation in their national government, and, therefore, Parliament had no right to tax them. This is where the saying came from, “no taxation without representation”.

Well, in 1766, Parliament passed what is called the “Declaratory Act”. This act gave the British government the authority to legislate the laws and rules for the American colonies, and in all cases the government had the final authority.

So, colonist groups began to organize at the grassroots level and they formed patriotic clubs and organizations known as the “Sons of Liberty”. They would use these club meetings to talk through their unfair circumstances and they began to send delegates and representatives to the British leaders to try and convince them that what they were doing was not for the good of the people. But the British government had their own ideas as to what was best for the people, so most of the time they would not even listen.

Starting to sound a little too familiar?


    So as the different Liberty groups in each city began to form and grow, they found themselves linking up with other city groups causing them to become bolder in their speaking out. In the City of Boston there was a famous elm tree where the Sons of Liberty would meet. This tree came to be known as the “Liberty Tree” and it became a rallying point for the growing colonist resistance against the British rule. Soon each city and community began to pick their own liberty tree as a meeting spot as a symbol of their individual liberty. As these liberty groups began to me in large numbers and the attendance began to grow, in their attempt to stop these meetings, the British government ordered that holding any meetings not authorized by the government was against the law. So, the Sons of Liberty members began to meet in secret.

Well, the struggle continued between the colonists and the British government with more and more laws being enacted. What seemed to be the final straw was that in 1773, a new act, the “Tea Act” was passed, placing a heavy tax on all tea transported to the colonies. Shortly after the Tea Act was passed, a number of ships entered Boston Harbor carrying on board hundreds of thousands of pounds of tea. When the local liberty group heard of the ship’s arrival, they sent a message to the ship’s captain not to unload the tea because they would not pay that tax. But the local British authorities would not budge, so there sat the three ships in Boston Harbor.

Now no one knows for sure who really planned that “tea party” or who the real leaders were, but one night somewhere between 30 and 130 Men thinly disguised as Indians boarded the three ships and, over the course of three hours, dumped all the tea into the harbor – this dumping of that tea became known as the “Boston Tea Party”. Interestingly enough, later that Tea Act was actually repealed, but the damage had already been done, and the people had determined that their government would not listen to them – and they began to move for independence.

So, here’s my question for you, “Are the events in our lives which make us wake up and act – are they good or bad?” It was patriot, Edmund Burke, who said, “He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills; our antagonist is our helper”.

But this one thing we do know – if the British government had not pushed the colonists too far, well, today, we might still be speaking with a British accent.

And one last thought, “What should “We The People” be doing today if we feel we are not being heard?

And are mere protests enough? You tell me.

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