Today in 1860 a handwritten letter from an 11 year old convinced Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard.
The letter came from Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, in the southwestern part of the state.
She wrote that her father had gone to the fair and brought back a picture of Lincoln and his running mate.
“I have got 4 brother’s (sic),” she wrote, “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.”
Lincoln, who by this point was weeks away from being elected president of the United States, answered the 11 year old back personally.
He wrote about his family and then asked, “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?”
He grew one anyway.
And when he traveled to Washington DC in early 1861, he made a stop in Westfield, where it’s said he met Grace Bedell and showed off his new look.
Westfield even has a set of statues of the two of them to mark their meeting.
The beard Grace Bedell suggested, of course, became iconic, though it has meant extra work for all those Abraham Lincoln impersonators out there.
Today in 1957, an unusual demonstration in Port Washington, Wisconsin: the “Power Mower of the Future”!
It was a riding lawn mower that could activate lights, place phone calls and it had a large bubble above the driver to provide air conditioning.
Six decades later it hasn’t caught on, for some reason.
Letter to Grace Bedell (Abraham Lincoln Online)
The Simplicity “Air-Conditioned Lawnmower” 1957 (Wacky Explorer)