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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