I begin with a most famous example of what the proprietor of Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century declares “the most foolish of facial hair: the mustacheless beard.”
In the fall of 1860. Abraham Lincoln was the Republican nominee for president of the United States. A lifelong beardless man, he received a letter written by Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl from Westfield, New York, wherein she said:
“I have got 4 brother's 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 husband's 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 to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be.”
In his personal reply to young Miss Bedell, Mr. Lincoln said:
“As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?”
Nevertheless, by February 16th 1861, the now president-elect stepped from the train in Westfield, New York, bedecked with his now famous beard, calling out to Miss Bedell that he had indeed, taken her advice.
Lincoln was the first American president to sport a beard and is generally regarded as one of America's finest presidents.