Presidents With Beards

Clean-shaven presidents have always occupied the highest political office in the U.S.. This has been the norm across the whole political hemisphere. 

From presidents, governors, to senators, very few have significant facial hair. It’s been more than a century since a bearded president served the office. 

Facial hair has long been tied to male courage and masculinity. You would expect politicians to spot some mean facial hair, but that is not always the case.

We’re living at a time where beards are no longer frowned upon and campaign like the Movember trend every year. For some reason, this is yet to take shape when it comes to politicians and presidents in particular. 

Beards in Politics

Being clean-shaven was not always the norm in American politics. The last president to sport some facial hair was William Howard Taft, who grew a mustache. 

Taft served his term in the White House between March 1909 and March 1913. Since then, America has not had a single sitting president with facial hair. 

Beards became popular in the 1960s among the hippie counterculture. This notion led to their reduced popularity in politics. Today less than five percent of the members of the U.S. Congress have mustaches or beards. 

There is little research about politicians and facial hair. Analysts have, however, concluded that voters make decisions based on factors like appearance. As such, it’s reasonable to assume that facial hair can influence voters’ perceptions. Because of this reason, politicians opt to be clean-shaven. 

Stereotypes About Presidents With Beards

Masculinity

Voters perceive politicians with beards as more masculine. There is also that general feeling that beards and mustaches make a man look more mature. This is a quality that people want to see in a head of state. 

Some, however, believe that men who have beards are not only unhygienic but have something to hide. In politics, public trust is everything if you want the votes. 

Having a clean-shaven president shows that the person is tidy, clean, and bear with nothing to hide. These qualities would make a candidate look trustworthy, thereby winning more votes. 

Subconsciously, our perceptions play a role in who we elect and who we don’t. This is all tied to their appearance. 

Perceived Issue Positions

It was not until 1913 when women won the right to vote. That was also the last time the U.S. had a bearded head of state. 

Higher masculinity rates were tied to perceptions of competence. However, there was also a general concern that such politicians opposed women’s rights. 

There was also the issue of the hippie culture catching on in the 1960s. During that time, facial hair grew unpopular among politicians.

Most of them wanted to distance themselves from the popular counterculture. Beards also became unpopular because politicians didn’t want to be portrayed as communists.

Electability

Stereotypes About Presidents With Beards

A century ago, a good number of presidential candidates had beards or mustaches. This was the norm and it played an essential part in the electability of a president.

During that time also women issues were rampant- with women not allowed to vote. When women got that right, facial hair among presidential candidates disappeared.

A president who had facial hair after that was perceived as sexist. This may not be the sole reason why presidents who followed, later on, have all been clean-shaven. There is no denying, though, that this perception has played a role in it. 

Why Presidents Don’t Wear Facial Hair Today

Most men start growing facial hair when they reach puberty. Facial hair signals male dominance, strength, and maturity.

Today, politicians, especially presidents seeking election, need to portray masculine traits. During and after the Civil War, beards in politics were rampant. They, however, became less prevalent when women gained their rights to vote. 

It was also during that time that the double edge safety razor became available. Today, research has it that voters tend to stereotype men who have facial hair. 

Men with facial hair are perceived as composed, competent, aggressive, bold, and powerful. This, however, has its downsides. Voters may also perceive bearded politicians as more likely to hold issue positions that affect women. Such issues include women’s reproductive rights. 

They are also more likely to support military spending, deployment of forces, and gun rights. The last major party-bearded candidate to run for president was Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. He lost the elections.

Like every fad, beards emerge and re-emerge in politics. Times have changed since the Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison days. 

Today, voters are not so keen on political candidates having facial hair. We are yet to see a president with a mean beard or a mustache, though.

Most Popular Historical Presidents With Beards

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and one of the most popular. Remembered for abolishing slavery, President Lincoln entered the office on March 1861 clean-shaven.

A letter from 11-year-old Grace Bedell of New York was the one that convinced him to start growing a beard. Bedell did not like how he looked without facial hair on his 1860 campaign trail in her letter. 

The letter read:

“I have yet got four brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you let your whiskers grow, I will try and get the rest of them to vote for 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 began growing his beard. By the time he was elected, he had grown his famous chinstrap beard, for which he is remembered. 

President Lincoln was the first President to have a beard without a mustache. He served as president until his assassination in April of 1865.

Ulysses Grant

Most Popular Historical Presidents With Beards - Ulysses Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th president of the United States and the second bearded president. He served as president from 1869 to 1877. He is well known for prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan and bringing stability after the turbulent Reconstruction period. 

During the Civil War and before his election, his beard was described as wild and shaggy. His wife did not like it and he trimmed it back. He was the first president to wear a full beard. 

President Grant didn’t get a Republican presidential nomination for a third term. He died of throat cancer in 1885.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford Hayes was the 19th president of the United States. He served his term from 1877 to 1881 and had the longest beard among all bearded American presidents. He sported a well-groomed long beard and mustache. 

Hayes is well-known for restoring the faith in the presidency. He also prompted the initiatives that led to civil service reform. Hayes died of a heart attack on 17th January 1893. 

James Garfield

James A. Garfield was the 20th president of the United States. He served for less than a year from 5th March 1881 to 19th September 1881.

President Garfield wore a bushy beard. The beard was long with a neatly trimmed cheek area. During his short term, he managed to restore the presidency’s prestige lost during the Reconstruction period. 

Charles J. Guiteau shot President Garfield on 2nd July 1881. He was taken to the New Jersey seaside in September, where he seemed to recuperate. 

Unfortunately, internal bleeding and infection cut his life short on 19th September 1881.

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president of the United States from March 4, 1889, to March 4, 1893. Harrison is known as one of the classiest presidents in the history of the bearded US presidency. 

President Harrison wore a full beard and mustache for his entire presidential term. He was also the last U.S. president to wear a beard. Harrison died from pneumonia on 13th March 1901. 

Presidents With Facial Hair But Without Beards

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams served as the 6th president and was the son of the former President John Adams. His term ran from 1825 to 1829, during which he shaped U.S. foreign policy.

President Adams wore a mutton chop sideburn beard. The beard is achieved by growing the sideburns and cutting along the lower jawline. 

The chin area is shaved clean. To maintain the beard style, you need to comb the sideburns from top to bottom. It’s the same look Hugh Jackman has on X-Men. 

Chester Arthur

Chester Arthur was the 21st president of the United States. President Arthur wore a mustache and sideburns. These extended from his hair to the jawline. 

He had a shaped jawline beard with an exposed cheek and chin area. For this look, the Beardoholic beard shaping tool is one shaving tool you should consider having around.

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the U.S and served his term from 1837 to 1841. Van Buren was not the most popular president and is blamed for the 1837 depression. 

He also opposed the increment of slavery. Because of that, he blocked the Texas annexation that would see slave territories not expand. 

Van Buren wore a mutton chop facial hairstyle with long combed-out sideburns. You need to grow out your sideburns and shave your chin area and mustache to achieve this look. You will need a professional stubble trimmer for your chin area. 

Grover Cleveland

Presidents With Facial Hair But Without Beards - Grover Cliveland

Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th president of the U.S. His first term stretched from 1885 to 1889. He returned for another term from 1893 to 1897.

Cleveland was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War. He was also the only president to leave the White House and return for a second term years later. 

President Cleveland wore a walrus mustache without a beard. To achieve this look, you need to grow the mustache and clean-shave the chin and cheek area.

You only need to trim your mustache with the world’s best beard scissors. You also need to apply your favorite beard care products

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. He served as president from 1901 to 1909 and is the youngest president in the history of the U.S. 

Roosevelt had a special term. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russian-Japanese War. 

He also reached a Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan on immigration. Also among his achievements is sending the Great White Fleet on a world goodwill tour.

Roosevelt also added to the national forest cover in the West. He also fostered irrigation projects and reserved lands for public use. He wore a mustache that was long on the sides with short and neat sideburns during his term. 

William Taft

William Taft was the 27th president of the U.S and the last president to have facial hair. He served from 1909 to 1913. 

Unlike his predecessor, Taft did not believe in stretching presidential powers. This was after spending an uncomfortable four years in the White House. 

After leaving the Presidency, Taft served as Professor of Law at Yale University. President Harding would then appoint him as the U.S. Chief Justice, which he held until his death in 1930.

During his term, President Taft wore a handlebar mustache. The handlebar mustache is long and curls upwards at the sides. 

To achieve this, you need to grow out your mustache, trim the hairs above the upper lip and curl the sides outward. 

Using your favorite beard brush ensures the mustache grows in the right direction. A premium beard balm will keep the handlebar mustache in shape. 

Most of these beard styles have made their way into the modern world. We, however, have more choices when it comes to beard tools and products.

The first thing is discovering your beard type. The second is using the right tools and finally the right beard products. A refreshing beard soap or a beard moisturizer that acts as a conditioner would go a long way. That’s if you want to give some of these beard styles a try. 

Bearded Politicians Today

It’s been a century since a United States president has had a beard or some form of facial hair. This has become accepted as the image of being a president. 

Today, presidents are clean-shaven and they wear that with pride. Less than 5% of the US Congress have beards or mustaches. 

A century is a long time, but Americans have become lax about beards. As such, scruff has become more acceptable in US politics. 

No major presidential candidate or president has sported facial hair. There’s, however, a growing number of U.S. politicians who have dared grow their beards. 

After an extended recess, lawmakers will typically sport whiskers. A good example is when Senator Ted Cruz showed up with a patchy beard after Thanksgiving.

Other politicians who have dared ditch the razor include Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and former speaker Paul Ryan.

Bearded Politicians Today

Ryan debuted his beard in 2015 after Thanksgiving. A year after Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney went to the briefing room with an unshaven face.

Ryan was the first U.S bearded speaker since Frederick Gillett, who served until 1925. Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver has worn a full and bold mustache for years. 

The absence of beards in politics hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2015, the Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy launched a committee.

The action committee‘s role was to support political candidates with full beards. In politics, men receive less scrutiny for their appearance than women. They are, however, more restricted. 

In a world where the tie has become optional even for presidents, we may see facial hair make a comeback.

FAQ About Presidents With Beards

Can the president have a beard?

Yes, there is no reason why a president can’t have a beard. After all, there have been about eleven presidents in the past with facial hair. Since William Howard Taft left office, though, presidents who followed have been clean-shaven.

Who was the first president with facial hair?

The first president with facial hair was John Quincy Adams. He sported a mutton chop sideburn beard.

What president had the best facial hair?

President Ulysses S. Grant had the best facial hair. He sported a well-groomed full beard. 

What president had a long beard?

Rutherford B. Hayes is reported to have had the longest beard among all U.S presidents.

Who was the last president with a beard? 

Benjamin Harrison was the last president in the United States to have a beard. Harrison wore a beard for all the four years he was in the White House. William Howard Taft didn’t have a beard but had a handlebar mustache. He was the last president ever to have facial hair. 

Conclusion 

William Howard Taft was the last United States president with facial hair. That was a century ago before women earned their rights to vote. Since then, US politics have been dominated by clean-shaven presidents and politicians. The hippie counterculture and communism influenced the disappearance of beards in politics.

Today, less than 5% of the US Congress sport facial hair. Some politicians have, however, dared to let their facial hair grow. However, most have gone on to shave soon after. We are yet to see a president grow a full beard or mustache. But who knows what the future holds.

Photos from: stetsik / depositphotos.com, Ruslan-Lytvyn / depositphotos.com, MidoSemsem / depositphotos.com and AntonMaster / depositphotos.com.

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