Wednesday, February 02, 2011
An Anomaly from History
Lincoln was the first president to sport a beard! I thought back over the images in my mind of the various presidents, and could not dispute the statement that no president prior to Lincoln had worn a beard. So, to confirm this bold assertion, I checked a pictorial display of all the presidents. The official portraits of the presidents reveal that all 15 of the first presidents were clean-shaven! Only one even came close to wearing facial hair, and that was Martin Van Buren, the 8th president, who had a pair of the largest mutton chops you’ve ever seen!
Lincoln actually began something of a trend as a number of his successors followed suit, namely, Ulysses S. Grant (18th), Rutherford B. Hayes (19th), James A. Garfield (20th), Chester A. Arthur (21st), and Benjamin Harrison (23rd). Of the first fifteen presidents, none had any facial hair, with the noted exception already mentioned of Van Buren’s world-class mutton chops. Andrew Johnson (17th) assumed the presidency following Lincoln’s assassination. He followed in the line of the first 15, choosing to be clean-shaven. The next six either had a beard or a mustache. William McKinley (24th) reverted to the clean-shaven look. Teddy Roosevelt (25th) and William Howard Taft (26th) were the last two presidents to have facial hair – moustaches. From Woodrow Wilson (27th) to the present president, Barack Hussein Obama (44th), all have chosen to remain hairless.