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Today in History: October 15

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln decided to grow a beard

October 15, 1860: Why did Abraham Lincoln have a beard? He received a letter from an 11-year-old girl, Grace Bedell, saying he would look better with one. Lincoln agreed. In Bedell's letter, written a few weeks before the 1860 election, she told Lincoln. "I have got four brothers," she said, "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 husbands to vote for you and then you would be President." Lincoln replied to the "dear little miss": "Do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now?" But days after his election, the president-elect changed his mind. "Billy," he reportedly told his barber, "let's give them a chance to grow."

Lincoln may have grown a beard for another reason. He knew he wasn't a particularly attractive man, and often cracked jokes about his homeliness. During one of his famous debates with Stephen Douglas, Douglas called him two-faced. Lincoln turned and appealed to the crowd. "If I had another face," he asked, "do you think I'd wear this one?"

October 15, 1966: President Johnson signed a bill creating Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

Quote of the Day"No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it." -Thomas Jefferson

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