Of the 44 men to serve as President of the United States, as many as 20 of them (45 percent) featured some sort of facial hair, depending on how you count. With the President’s Day Weekend upon us, it seemed fun to put together a “Hall of Presidential Facial Hair.”
George Washington (our 1st President) barely makes the list of Presidential Facial Hair because of his Sideburns. Another seven presidents went on to feature Bottom-of-the-Earlobe (or lesser) Sideburns: mostly in the period between 1789 and 1837, and then again from 1968 to 1980.
- John Adams (our 2nd President)
- Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President)
- James Madison (our 4th President)
- James Monroe (our 5th President)
- Andrew Jackson (our 7th President)
- Gerald Ford (our 38th President)
- Jimmy Carter (our 39th President)
John Quincy Adams (our 6th President) took Sideburns to the next level, though. His facial hair was more serious. More prominent. And few other presidents took after his style of facial hair, between the years 1825 and 1850, including:
The “Abraham Lincoln”
Abraham Lincoln (our 16th President) was something special, both in terms of his historical impact and in terms of his facial hair. He was the only president to go with a full beard and no mustache, from 1861 to 1865. No other president has attempted this look, so he gets a category of his own.
Ulysses Grant (our 18th President) was the first president to go with a Full Beard with a Mustache. Grant’s was fairly short-cropped and close to his face. Subsequent presidents, from 1869 to 1893, went all-out in the growth of their facial hair — to even greater lengths. Our full-bearded presidents were:
- Rutherford Hayes (our 19th President)
- James Garfield (our 20th President)
- Benjamin Harrison (our 23rd President)
The “Chester Arthur”
Chester Arthur (our 21st President) did not have nearly the level of historical impact held by Abraham Lincoln — holding office from 1881 to 1885 — but he did have one of the most unique forms of facial hair: sideburns that linked up directly with a mustache. For this, he also gets his own category of Presidential Facial Hair.
Grover Cleveland (our 22nd and 24th President) ushered in the Era of the Mustache, which ran roughly from 1885 to 1913.
What Comes Next?
I think it’s fascinating to observe the ways that fashion — both in Politics and in Facial Hair — has changed over time. Do you think it will ever become popular for a political figure to feature facial hair again? Is so, which style?
In the meantime, we’re left to reflect upon the past — and I’ve developed a habit of taking the week between President’s Day and my birthday (February 26th) to gradually lose my winter beard, with a new homage to a former president, every few days. This year, I think I’m going to salute Ohio presidents Ulysses S Grant and William Howard Taft on my way from fully-bearded to clean-shaven.
Happy President’s Day, in any event! I hope it’s a good weekend for you!