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International German Beard and Moustache Championship

This video is awesome. And yes, there’s a specific musketeer category!

  

The Bearded Age – A history of presidential beards

Here’s another great article from The New York Times, this one about how Abraham Lincoln was the first American president to sport a beard and how he ushered an age where all but one president had a beard or mustache when elected over a 50-year period.

Here are some highlights from the article:

The story of how Lincoln decided to let his chin whiskers sprout has been retold so many times that it’s almost legendary: Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old in upstate New York, wrote him a letter a few weeks before the election. “I have got 4 brothers,” she told the Republican candidate, “and part of them will vote for you any way and if you 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 husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” Lincoln replied to the “dear little miss”: “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affect[at]ion if I were to begin it now?” Just days after his election, though, he made up his mind. “Billy,” he supposedly told his barber, “let’s give them a chance to grow.”

*****

Yet there was much more to it than that. For more than a hundred years, American men had, nearly without exception, gone clean-shaven; in the late 18th century, a Philadelphia woman considered it noteworthy when she saw “an elephant and two bearded men” in the street one day. Now, in 1860, beards seemed to be sprouting everywhere, proliferating as rapidly and luxuriantly as some new species of invasive tropical plant.

Most American historians, when they have considered the 19th-century whisker revolution at all, have assumed it had to do with Civil War soldiers avoiding the inconvenience of shaving. In fact, the phenomenon predated the war by a number of years – and was the subject of a great deal of contemporary comment and debate. By the mid-1850s, talk of a “beard movement” was sweeping the nation. In 1857, an intrepid journalist strolled through Boston’s streets, conducting a statistical survey: of the 543 men he tallied, no fewer than 338 had full, bushy beards, while nearly all the rest sported lesser facial hair of various sorts. Only four were “men of the old school, smooth shaven, with the exception of slight tufted promontories jutting down from either ear, as if designed as a compromise measure between the good old doctrine and modern radicalism.”

As that remark suggests, antebellum beards bristled with political connotations. American newspapers reported that in Europe, beards were seen as “dangerous” tokens of revolutionary nationalism, claiming that the Austrian and Neapolitan monarchies even went so far as to ban them. In England they were associated with the sudden burst of martial fervor during the Crimean War. When the trend reached America, connotations of radicalism and militarism traveled with it, spanning the Mason-Dixon Line. It was no accident that the timid Northern Democrats who sympathized with slaveholders – like President James Buchanan – were called “doughfaces.” Meanwhile, the Republicans’ first standard-bearer, John C. Frémont in 1856, had also been the first bearded presidential candidate in American history. (The most famous antebellum beard of all, though, was John Brown’s.)

Will we ever have another beard movement?

  

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