For Mad Men fans like myself, it’s been a LONG time coming
Only five US presidents sported full beards during their presidency. In fact, it started to become a prerequisite for the man in the oval office to sport an impressive hunk of hair on his chin. Starting with Lincoln’s chin strap and ending with Garfield’s assassination, the Whisker Renaissance is as much a part of history as the New Deal and Betsy Ross’s flag. Look at the five and fifty dollar bills, beards. Look at the statues that dot Washington D.C., beards. It is about time that we honor these men and the beards they grew.
Rutherford B. Hayes
One of the more unruly presidential beards, Rutherford B. Hayes’s beard resembled a forked, mountain man beard. With wispy hairs and uncontrollable volume, Hayes should have used a pair a scissors to trim, but the full beard said plenty about Hayes presidency. Following one of the messiest elections in history, losing the popular vote but winning the electoral college, Rutherford considered himself a meritocrat believing in equal treatment without regard to race. So a free-flowing beard for an open-minded dude who took No-Shave-November to the extreme.
James A. Garfield
The regality of Ulysses S. Grant’s beard matched with lengthy virtuosity of Rutherford B. Hayes’s, James A. Garfield’s beard is controlled and diplomatic. The last president to wield a mighty full beard, Garfield’s presidency was cut short after he was assassinated by Charles A. Guiteau, thus ending the reign-of-the-whiskers. No president has worn a beard since with Woodrow Wilson stating that he’s had “enough of this facial hair malarkey.”
The first president to put our nation into debt, Benjamin also had the most frivolous beard. They do say, “The beard defines the man” (whoever they are). After beating Grover Cleveland, Harrison proceeded to spend and spend until the surplus was gone and his bill reached over 1 billion dollars. Harrison’s mustache covered his entire mouth and his beard ended in a bulbous wisp that should have been shaved off, but the greedy president refused to shave his beard. A messy presidency, defined by a messy beard, was rescued by Cleveland’s second term – back to save the day (with only a mustache).
Ulysses S. Grant
The purest, fullest presidential beard belongs to Ulysses S. Grant. With a full beard and mustache combo, Grant’s majestic beard offered the General of the Union Army the perfect identifies of authority and power. There was most likely a beard-off competition between the starkly-white beard of Robert E. Lee and Grant where Grant laughed so hard his beard punched Lee in the face thus winning the Civil War. Grant’s presidential cabinet was also the hairiest cabinet in history with each sporting their own impressive beards. We salute you and your beard President Grant.
Honest Abe’s bearded face was not a lifelong, follicle commitment. In fact, he never grew a beard until he received a letter from 11-year old Grace Bedell requesting the naked-faced presidential candidate quit shaving. “I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway 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.” Lincoln thought this a fantastic idea, and, thus, the great beard of Abe Lincoln was born.
E Plurius Beardum