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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grace Bedell
Grace-bedell.jpg
Grace Bedell in the 1870s
BornNovember 4, 1848
DiedNovember 2, 1936(1936-11-02) (aged 87)
Known forConvincing Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard

Grace Greenwood Bedell Billings (November 4, 1848 – November 2, 1936)[1] was an American woman, notable as the person whose correspondence, at the age of eleven, encouraged Republican Party nominee and future president Abraham Lincoln to grow his iconic beard. Lincoln later met with Bedell.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Interesting Story Behind Lincoln's Beard
  • ✪ Matthew Pinsker: Understanding Lincoln: Letter to Grace Bedell (1860)
  • ✪ Lincoln's Beard, interview with NPG historian David C. Ward
  • ✪ Abraham Lincoln Story for Kids with Images | Abraham Lincoln for Kids | Abraham Lincoln Photos
  • ✪ Abraham Lincoln: Reading the Cracked Plate Portrait

Transcription

Hello I’m Daven Hiskey, you are watching the Today I Found Out YouTube channel, in the video today we’re looking at how a little girl’s letter inspired Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard. In 1860, the clean shaven Abraham Lincoln was running for President of the United States. This bare faced look was somewhat odd for a man of the age. You see, shortly before Lincoln decided to grow his now famous facial hair, something of a beard-olution swept the United States and by the mid-19th century the formerly predominately clean-shaven men of America were now nearly universally sporting beards. In fact, one reporter, doing a story on the new trend in 1857, walked the streets of Boston and after counting 543 men that walked by him, found that 62% of them were sporting bushy beards and all but 4 of the rest had some other type of significant facial hair. Even those four that lacked any significant facial hair sported what would later be called Side Burns, after General Ambrose Burnside. The clean shaven look that Lincoln at the time was still clinging too was out of style. Needless to say, had Lincoln been running today, his campaign manager would have told him he needed to grow some facial hair, with most of the voting populace sporting it. Instead of campaign manager, it was a little girl who clued Lincoln in that he needed a change. The girl in question was 11 year old Grace Bedell from New York, who sent a letter to Lincoln dated October 15, 1860: Dear Sir My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. 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 wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. … I have yet got 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 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 …. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauqua County New York. I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye Grace Bedell Apparently not too busy campaigning to answer the letter of a little girl, Lincoln wrote her back from Illinois on October 19, 1860: 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 have never worn any do you not think people would call it a silly affection if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well wisher A. Lincoln Lincoln had numerous documented instances of self-deprecating jokes concerning his less than attractive visage. In one such instance, while publicly debating with his longtime rival Stephen Douglas- after Douglas called him "two-faced"- Lincoln reportedly replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” (Note: Douglas was not only Lincoln's political rival, but also a rival outside of politics- Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd was courted by both Lincoln and Douglas originally. In the end, Lincoln perhaps wished he'd lost that battle given accounts of his married life.) Given his attitude about his appearance, it's perhaps not surprising that despite not definitively saying he would grow a beard, after replying to Grace on October 19, 1860, Lincoln’s facial hair situation progressed as follows: But this isn’t the end of the story. On Lincoln’s trip from Illinois to Washington D.C., the now President-elect made a stop in Westfield, New York on February 19, 1861. On the train platform, he related the story behind his decision to grow a beard and asked if the little girl in question was in the crowd. She was and approached; at which point, according to Bedell, he said: 'Gracie, look at my whiskers. I have been growing them for you.’” She stated he then kissed her and she never saw him again. After Lincoln, every elected President except William McKinley would sport facial hair. This trend finally ended when Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913. From then on, U.S. Presidents have remained clean shaven. So thanks for watching this video, if you liked it please click that like button below and also consider subscribing, and do check out our archives we’ve got almost 700 videos now so you’re sure to find something you find interesting. Thanks for watching.

Contents

Event

Background

On October 15, 1860, a few weeks before Lincoln was elected President of the United States, Grace Bedell sent him a letter from Westfield, New York, urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance.[2][3] Lincoln responded in a letter on October 19, 1860, making no promises. However, within a month, he grew a full beard.

In an 1878 interview with a local newspaper of Westfield, Grace Bedell-Billings recalled what prompted her to write the letter.

"We were at that time residing at Westfield, N.Y. My father, who was a staunch Republican, brought one day to me – who followed in his footsteps and was a zealous champion of Mr. Lincoln – a picture of 'Lincoln and Hamlin,' one of those coarse exaggerated likenesses which it seems the fate of our long-suffering people in such contents. You are familiar with Mr. Lincoln's physiognomy, and remember the high forehead over those sadly pathetic eyes, the angular lower face with the deep cut lines about the mouth. As I regarded the picture, I said to my mother 'He would look better if he wore whiskers, and I mean to write and tell him so.'"[4]

Grace Bedell's letter

Hon A B [sic] Lincoln...
Dear Sir
My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. 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 wont 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 her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have yet got 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 to [sic] 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. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauqua County New York.
I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye
Grace Bedell

Lincoln's response

Lincoln made no promises in his reply to Bedell's letter:

Springfield, Ill Oct 19, 1860
Miss Grace Bedell
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

Lincoln visits Bedell

Lincoln Bedell statue, Westfield, New York
Lincoln Bedell statue, Westfield, New York

Shortly after this exchange, Lincoln allowed his beard to grow. By the time he began his inaugural journey from Illinois to Washington, D.C. by train, he had a full beard. The trip took him through New York state, and included a stop in Bedell's hometown of Westfield, New York, where thousands gathered to meet the president-elect. There, Lincoln asked to meet Grace Bedell by name.

The February 19, 1861 edition of the New York World recounted the meeting as follows:

"At Westfield an interesting incident occurred. Shortly after his nomination Mr. Lincoln had received from that place a letter from a little girl, who urged him, as a means of improving his personal appearance, to wear whiskers. Mr. Lincoln at the time replied, stating that although he was obliged by the suggestion, he feared his habits of life were too fixed to admit of even so slight a change as that which letting his beard grow involved. To-day, on reaching the place, he related the incident, and said that if that young lady was in the crowd he should be glad to see her. There was a momentary commotion, in the midst of which an old man, struggling through the crowd, approached, leading his daughter, a girl of apparently twelve or thirteen years of age, whom he introduced to Mr. Lincoln as his Westfield correspondent. Mr. Lincoln stooped down and kissed the child, and talked with her for some minutes. Her advice had not been thrown away upon the rugged chieftain. A beard of several months' growth covers (perhaps adorns) the lower part of his face. The young girl's peachy cheek must have been tickled with a stiff whisker, for the growth of which she was herself responsible."

Bedell recalled the event years later:

"He climbed down and sat down with me on the edge of the station platform," she recalled. "'Gracie,' he said, 'look at my whiskers. I have been growing them for you.' Then he kissed me. I never saw him again."[5]

Contemporaneous Lincoln photos

The story spreads

The anecdote became a popular children's story following Lincoln's assassination. A statue depicting a meeting between Lincoln and Bedell is located in the center of the village of Westfield, at the intersection of US 20 and NY 394.[6]

Second letter

Bedell wrote a second letter to Lincoln in 1864 when she was 15. She asked for Lincoln's help gaining a job with the Treasury so that she could financially support her parents. This letter was discovered by a researcher in 2007:[7]

Pres Lincoln,

After a great deal of forethought on the subject I have concluded to address you, asking your aid in obtaining a situation, Do you remember before your election receiving a letter from a little girl residing at Westfield in Chautauque Co. advising the wearing of whiskers as an improvement to your face. I am that little girl grown to the size of a woman. I believe in your answer to that letter you signed yourself. "Your true friend and well-wisher." will you not show yourself my friend now. My Father during the last few years lost nearly all his property, and although we have never known want, I feel that I ought and could do something for myself. If I only knew what that "something" was. I have heard that a large number of girls are employed constantly and with good wages at Washington cutting Treasury notes and other things pertaining to that Department. Could I not obtain a situation ther? [sic] I know I could if you would exert your unbounded influences a word from you would secure me a good paying situation which would at least enable me to support myself if not to help my parents, this, at present – is my highest ambition. My parents are ignorant of this application to you for assistance. If you require proof of my family's respectability. I can name persons here whose names may not be unknown to you. We have always resided here excepting the two years we were at Westfield. I have addressed one letter to you before, pertaining to this subject, but receiving no answer I chose rather to think you had failed to recieve [sic] it, not believing that your natural kindness of heart of which I have heard so much would prompt you to pass it by unanswered. Direct to this place.

Grace G. Bedell[8]

Afterward

Bedell later married a Union Army veteran. They eventually moved to Delphos in Ottawa County, Kansas. There she died of unknown causes at the age of 87 in 1936, two days before her 88th birthday.[9] She was buried at Delphos Cemetery.

Book

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers, written and illustrated by Karen B. Winnick (1996), tells the story of how 11-year-old Grace Bedell wrote to Mr. Lincoln to "let (his) whiskers grow". The complete letters of both Grace and Mr. Lincoln are included in this historically accurate and well-illustrated picture book.

Film

To mark the 150th anniversary of the events surrounding the letter, Mark Esslinger and Eric Burdett produced a short film, Grace Bedell (2010), starring Lana Esslinger as Grace Bedell.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ Timeline; Grace Bedell Foundation website; retrieved .
  2. ^ Kansas Honors Girl Who Urged Lincoln To Grow Whiskers; August 9, 1966; The New York Times; accessed 2018.
  3. ^ "The Lincoln Log". www.thelincolnlog.org.
  4. ^ "Lincoln's Whiskers". Westfield Republican. November 13, 1878. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013.
  5. ^ "Woman Urging Lincoln's Beard Passes in West". Schenectady Gazette. Schenectady, New York: Daily Gazette Company. November 4, 1936. p. 17(col 3).
  6. ^ Terry, Frank (July 11, 1999). "Statues of Lincoln, Young Girl Celebrate Link". The Buffalo News. Buffalo, New York. p. C5.
  7. ^ Hadsall, Joe (November 5, 2007). "Writing to President Lincoln w/ Grace Bedell letters and photos". Joplin Globe. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Grace Bedell – Second Letter Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine; Grace Bedell Foundation website; retrieved .
  9. ^ News release; 2004; NoDak website; accessed .

External links

This page was last edited on 19 May 2019, at 06:13
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