The most famous, and perhaps the originator of the trend, is Lincoln’s beard. Stately and dignified, yet hinting at his backwoods origin, it was the suggestion of an eleven year old girl from New York. She wrote to him before his election, stating that she believed it would help him gain more votes. By the time Lincoln arrived in Washington for his inauguration, he had grown his signature beard.
By the early twentieth century, this was trimmed back in the person of Teddy Roosevelt, whose svelt mustache was more economical for invasions of Cuba, winning the Nobel Peace prize, and big game hunting.
It hasn’t just been the politicians. Literary icons have been in on the act since the beginning. Henry David Thoreau was one of the first with his neck beard, affectionately known as the “Thoreau Rug.”
But it always reminded me just a little bit of that collar thing on Kermit the Frog. Coincidence?
Walt Whitman went full-on, hobo-style beard. Hemingway fluctuated between mustache and beard. And Ginsberg accentuated his bushy beard with equally bushy hair.