It was the fall of 1860. Abraham Lincoln was the Republican nominee for president of the United States. Election Day was less than a month away. Mr. Lincoln, a lifelong beardless man, received a letter written by Grace Bedell, an 11 year old girl from Westfield, New York. Written October 15th, 1860, the letter urged him to grow a beard. Unedited, Miss Bedell's letter read:
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
And the rest is history.