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Grace Bedell in the 1870’s

On October 15, 1860, a young girl by the name of Grace Bedell from Westfield, New York wrote to Abraham Lincoln, the Republican nominee for president with some advice regarding his clean-shaven appearance:

Dear Sir,

My father has just [come] home from the fair and brought home your picture. . . . I am a little girl only eleven 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 got four brother’s and part of them will vote for you any way and if you will 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. . . . I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye.

Grace Bedell

On October 19, the nominee wrote back:

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 seemed not to agree with young Grace’s suggestion, but he did indeed began to grow a beard. The next year, on his way to the White House, Lincoln stopped in Westfield, gave Grace a kiss and even thanked her for her advice.

Statue of Grace Bedell and Abraham Lincoln, Westfield, New York

In those days, public figures were thankful for advice and didn’t go on TV (I know TV did not exist, just humor me for a moment) to express outrage and to denounce the person making a suggestion as a bully.

Jennifer Livingston, the newswoman who cried fat in Wisconsin could take a lesson from the deceased President Abraham Lincoln.

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