On this day in history, 11-year-old Grace Bedell in Westfield, New York sent Lincoln a letter advising him that a beard would help him get elected as President of the United States.
Lincoln wrote back on October 19, thanking Grace for her letter and began growing a beard. After he was elected, he took an inaugural journey by train from Illinois to Washington, D.C., and stopped in Bedell’s hometown of Westfield, New York. There, Lincoln asked to meet Grace Bedell.
The February 19, 1861 edition of the “New York World” recounted the meeting as follows:
At Westfield an interesting incident occurred. Shortly after his nomination Mr. Lincoln had received from that place a letter from a little girl, who urged him, as a means of improving his personal appearance, to wear whiskers. Mr. Lincoln at the time replied, stating that although he was obliged by the suggestion, he feared his habits of life were too fixed to admit of even so slight a change as that which letting his beard grow involved. To-day, on reaching the place, he related the incident, and said that if that young lady was in the crowd he should be glad to see her. There was a momentary commotion, in the midst of which an old man, struggling through the crowd, approached, leading his daughter, a girl of apparently twelve or thirteen years of age, whom he introduced to Mr. Lincoln as his Westfield correspondent. Mr. Lincoln stooped down and kissed the child, and talked with her for some minutes. Her advice had not been thrown away upon the rugged chieftain. A beard of several months’ growth covers (perhaps adorns) the lower part of his face. The young girl’s peachy cheek must have been tickled with a stiff whisker, for the growth of which she was herself responsible.”
You can read a copy of both letters here.