We all know beards have had their place in history, and today in celebration of our great nation’s birthday I wanted to make note of some of my personal bearded American heroes. Of course, this list is not all-inclusive and there are many other fine bearded men that have helped shape this great nation politically, socially, and artistically. They are also in no particular order. If I missed someone, share your personal favorites in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
First up on our list is naturally the first bearded POTUS, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln guided the young country through what was perhaps its most troubled time in history, the American Civil War. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery and modernized the economy. It’s no wonder he tops our list.
Fun fact: He was actually beardless throughout his entire presidential campaign then grew his beard on the suggestion of an 11 year old girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote that he might look better with some facial hair. Raise your hand if you started your bearded journey on the suggestion of a lady.
Next up on our list is the great Mark Twain. Though he didn’t technically have a beard, he did have a killer moustache that’s worthy of some recognition. Twain also earned massive recognition as a writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He’s credited as “the greatest humorist this country has ever produced” and as the “Father of American Literature.”
Another bearded gentleman who was heavily involved with the abolishment of slavery was Frederick Douglass. He believed in equality for all people, and believed that conversation was the key to bridging the gap between beliefs.
I like to think we could all learn a thing or two from the ideologies of Mr. Douglass.
Famous quote: ‘I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong”
We move on from number 3 on our list to another bearded gent from the artistic side of our nation’s history. His name is Walt Whitman. Not only did he have a beard that could rival that of Saint Nick, he devoted his life to going against the grain with his art to expose a different side of the poetic universe. He was a poet, essayist and journalist who is often credited as the Father of Free Verse.
He was rebellious in his works, writing on controversial topics that aroused contention among his peers. But he’s just another example of an artist who was ahead of his times, and had he not fought society’s views we never would have seen this side of him.
The next one on our list many of you may not have heard of but is such a classic story I couldn’t leave him out. His name is Joseph Palmer. His claim to fame is the amount of struggle he went through to wear his beard. I don’t believe I can tell the story any better than Erika Janik did on her blog, so I’ll post the excerpt here.
“Joseph Palmer became a martyr to his own whiskers, a long flowing beard that he insisted on wearing long in contravention of the current style. One day in 1830, Palmer was attacked by four men outside a hotel in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. His crime? Wearing a beard.
Palmer fought back, and despite being a large man, he was thrown to the ground. He managed to escape only by stabbing two of his assailants in the leg with his knife. He was later arrested and fined for causing an unprovoked assault. Although Palmer could easily have paid the fine, he refused on principle and went to jail for his facial hair crime. Even jail couldn’t protect Palmer from those who wanted to unshorn him – twice other prisoners and jailers attempted to shave his face. Palmer wrote letters from jail publicizing the case, and he was eventually released. His tombstone features a man wearing a long beard and the words “Persecuted for wearing the beard.”