President-Elect Lincoln Grows His Beard: This Second Photograph, Signed, Depicts the Progress

January 26, 1861

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President-Elect Lincoln Grows His Beard: This Second Photograph, Signed, Depicts the Progress
Signed Photograph
1 page | SMC 384

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      Background

      Lincoln’s second photograph with facial hair, and his first with a full beard, was taken by Christopher Smith German in Springfield, Illinois, on January 13, 1861. Presumably it was then that sculptor Thomas D. Jones accompanied Lincoln, “to pose him for some pictures he desired to present to a very dear friend.” This fine example from that sitting was inscribed by President-Elect Lincoln on January 26th - less than two weeks before he left Springfield for Washington.

      Lincoln grew his beard right after the election, at the suggestion of an eleven year-old girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote him in October that she thought he would look better with “whiskers” and, so improved, get more votes. Miss Bedell was not alone, however, in thinking that a beard would ameliorate Lincoln’s rough-hewn visage: a few days before he received the Bedell letter, some ardent Republicans in New York wrote him of their “candid determination” that the Lincoln daguerreotypes they wore as medals would be “much approved in appearance” were he to cultivate whiskers…

      Chicago photographer Samuel G. Alschuler was the first to document Lincoln’s (nascent) beard, on November 25th; German took the second set of “bearded” photos in February, right before Lincoln left for Washington, a third. Lincoln’s Springfield friends thought his adornment ridiculous, and teased he was “puttin’ on airs” - but by the time the president-elect reached Washington, people meeting him for the first time were astonished to discover that he was almost handsome.


      Signed Photo (“A. Lincoln”), as president-elect, placed and dated in autograph, being a cabinet photo by C.S. German of Springfield, Illinois, from a sitting on or about January 13, 1861. Inscribed by Lincoln “Springfield, Ill., January 26, 1861. Hamilton & Ostendorf, O-41
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      A Lincoln

      Springfield, Ill,
      January 26. 1861