Who Was the First U.S. President To Have a Beard?

Rewind history a couple of hundred years, and you’ll find that the office of the U.S. President and facial hair went together as readily as beer and football. So who was the first president to sport a beard?

Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. President to have a beard. Before his tenure, sideburns were the facial hair trend in the nation’s highest office. 

Read on to learn more fun facts about first beards and the presidency!

Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. President to have a beard

President Abraham Lincoln
Image from whitehouse.gov

As early as 1825, facial hair arrived on the scene in the country’s highest political office. Impressive sideburns and mutton chops were the norms, while chins stayed bare. John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren are both known for wearing their sideburns with pride.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the first United States president to have a beard while serving in office. His abandonment of the razor started a bearded trend among presidents for the next thirty years.

Lincoln was clean-shaven during his presidential campaign until an adolescent girl suggested he would look more presidential with a beard. Eleven-year-old New Yorker, Grace Bedell, grew up in a family of brothers. 

Some of her brothers already planned to vote for Lincoln, but the others were unsure. In a letter penned to the presidential candidate, she told him she could sway their vote if he would grow some whiskers. She added that a beard would help fill out his thin, lanky frame and make him more appealing.

The rest is history. It’s hard now to visualize Honest Abe without his signature dark beard. Over the next 32 years, beards became a presidential accessory.

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