The US Presidential Beards
It has been a rare sight throughout history to see the President of the United States sporting facial hair. As most of us have witnessed, it's now always a clean shaven face that wins the race. Around the 1960's, beards became extremely popular among the hippie counterculture involving drugs and uncleanliness which made them grow even more unfashionable in the political world. What also effected the outlook on facial hair was Fidel Castro and radicals during the 1960's wearing them which added the stigma of "American hating" to beards. It has even been blamed for some candidates losing elections. But times they are a changin'! And facial hair is on the upswing with more and more people growing. It's only a matter of time before we have another President with facial hair.
Plus, there is now a group known as the Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy who are trying to bring facial hair back into politics because it shows dedication, which they believe will replicate in their public service. This committee also provides financial support to political campaigns of those with beards. Awesome, right?
While we wait for the next one, let's check out the few historical Presidents of the USA who dared to abandon their razors for beards, mustaches, and mutton chops!
John Quincy Adams
The first President who was the son of a President is also our first president with real facial hair (sorry, sideburns don't count George Washington). After he and his mutton chops were not re-elected as President, they were both elected to serve in the House of Representatives until his death, when he had a stroke on the floor of the House.
Martin Van Buren
Van Buren was only around 5 feet 6 inches tall, but his mutton chops made him look much larger in stature. The "Little Magician" was not one of our better-known presidents but he did oppose the expansion of slavery, and because of that he blocked the annexation of Texas so that slave territory wouldn't increase. At least he did something positive during his term other than just looking awesome.
Honest Abe was an amazing man with an amazing beard. He grew up with little money and little education, and worked hard to further his education while being a farmhand, splitting logs for fences, and working as a shopkeeper. Even though his assassination was tragic, the words from his second inaugural address should live with us forever "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds." You're the man, Abe.
Ulysses S. Grant
After the embarrassment to the Union known as the Battle of Shiloh, there were a lot of people calling for the resignation of General Grant. Lincoln defended him by saying "I can't spare this man, he fights." He fought, he recovered, and helped lead the Union to victory. There's no doubt that his beard inspired his soldiers on at least some small scale. Also, he looked like Russell Crowe.
Rutherford B. Hayes
You thought the John Kerry - George W. Bush election was rough? Hayes went to bed thinking he had lost the 1876 election, and woke up with a popular vote that showed 4,300,000 votes for his opponent and 4,036,000 for Hayes. After months of debate over contested electoral votes, Congress created an Electoral Commission to decide who would be president. The commission had eight Republicans and seven Democrats, and Hayes won by a margin of (you guessed it) eight to seven. Also, he looks like the old-guy-neighbor from Home Alone.
President Garfield was in office for less than a year before he was shot by an assassins bullet. As a native of Cuyahoga County, Ohio he became the first of many Cleveland leaders who couldn't last through an entire contract.
(We would like to apologize to Cleveland Browns fans, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Thad Lewis, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, and the descendants of James Garfield for that joke.)
As President, Arthur tried to lower the US tariff rates so that the Government (get this) would not be "embarrassed by annual surpluses of revenue." That's right folks, in the 1880's the government had to be careful not to have too much money left over at the end of the year. Oh, the good ol' days....
Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor. And, in June 1886 the 49-year-old Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom. He was only the second president married while in office, and the first who was married in the White House. Nice work, Grover - that mustache definitely helped. Also, he looks like Bill Murray's brother.
Harrison was another 5 foot 6 president, and another president who had to deal with the "treasury surplus." We just wanted to re-iterate that the US Government once had too much money. Fun Fact: Harrison is distantly related to the Harrison family from History Channel's Pawn Stars.
Roosevelt liked to "speak softly and carry a big stick" and was lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment. This tough president loved the outdoors, expanded our national forests, went on safaris, and even created a political ticket named the Bull Moose Party. He was a man's man, and wore a mustache worthy of his personality. You're the man, Teddy.
William Howard Taft
Taft was 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds. The thing people most remember about him is that he (may have) been stuck in a bathtub at some point during his presidency. While that story remains an unconfirmed legend, the fact remains that Taft should be known for something completely different. He was the last US President to have any real facial hair. Based on the requirements of this article, Taft truly was the last manly president.
If you want more like this, you can check out our Beards of the Month here.