MANY Americans know the story of the young girl who wrote...


August 17, 1994

MANY Americans know the story of the young girl who wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln urging him to grow a beard. What follows is the full text of that Oct. 15, 1860, letter from Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y. (misspellings, improper punctuation, run-on sentences and all), as well as Lincoln's reply of four days later -- both courtesy of "Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President," edited by Harold Holzer and published last year by Addison Wesley:

"Hon A B Lincoln

"Dear Sir

"My father has just [come] home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. [Hannibal] Hamlin's [Lincoln's running mate]. I am a little girl only eleven years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brother's and part of them will vote for you any way and if you will 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 husband's to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is a going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try and get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty. I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be . . . I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye

"Grace Bedell"

Lincoln's answer, penned Oct. 19, 1860, in Springfield, Ill.:

"My dear little Miss.

"Your very agreeable letter of the 15th. is received.

"I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters. I have three sons -- one seventeen, one nine, and one seven, years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family.

"As to the whiskers, never having worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affect-[at]ion if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well-wisher

"A. Lincoln."

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