In October of 1860, a little girl from Westfiled, New York, in Chatauqua County, wrote a letter to President-Elect Abraham Lincoln urging him to grow his whiskers out. It seems that she took it upon herself to inform Mr. Lincoln that he would do better in the election -- that is, receive more votes -- if he had a beard. Lincoln, being a beadless man all of his life, was thouroughly amused by the little woman's brazeness and decided to take her up on the advise. When Lincoln headed to the White House in 1861, he was fully bearded.
The following is Grace Bedell's letter exactly as it appeared.
Hon A B Lincoln...
My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only 11 years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brother's 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 husband's to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chatauque County New York
I must not write any more answer this letter right off. Good bye
On October 19, after reading her letter, Lincoln replied:
Miss Grace Bedell
My dear little Miss
Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received - I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters - I have three sons - one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age - They, with their mother, constitute my whole family - 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?
Your very sincere well wisher
As it was stated in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, when Lincoln stopped at Westfield on his way to Washington to take the oath of office, he called out for Miss Bedell. When she appeared, Lincoln kissed her and said that he took her advise. Grace Bedell died in 1936 but the legacy of the letter she wrote to Abraham Lincoln still lives on in Delphos, Kansas where she spent most of her adult life. A memorial was erected in the Delphos town square depicting her original letter and the President's reply.