Monday, February 20, 2012

National Beard Day

OK, it’s really Presidents Day, but for some reason I had beards on my mind. I finished a small picture book on the Civil War while Patch was sleeping in her hospital bed this weekend, and darn it, every single man who fought in that conflict had a beard! Well, almost. But those beards … some were a might fine example of the dazzling and luxurious variety.

Anyway, let me ask you this –

Why don’t Americans trust a president with a beard? Is he hiding something?

How many presidents have had beards? Who was the first and who was the last?

Well, according to my five-minute research of the online pages of the National Portrait Gallery, by my count we’ve had five bearded leaders.

The first, of course, was Lincoln. He assumed the office of the presidency in 1861.

He was followed by the beardless Andrew Johnson.

Then, America was treated to eight years of the powerful beard of Ulysses S. Grant, a man who was as mediocre as president as he was brilliant as a general.

Grant kept the beard thing alive by passing the baton to a scruffy Rutherford B. Hayes.

And Hayes honored his forebear by crumbling in defeat to a shaggy James Garfield. A trifecta of bearded executives!

However, to keep the cosmic scales in balance, America in the 80s was run by two baby-faced gentlemen, last names of Arthur and Cleveland.

Then – a return to beards! Benjamin Harrison brought his furry mug into the Oval Office in 1889. For four more years bearded men of the United States chanted, “Four more years!”

And that was the last beard to rule America.

For a span of 32 years, five bearded men were the most powerful men on the face of the earth. Well, maybe they were the fourth most powerful men. England, maybe France, maybe another European country were still happenin’ at the end of the 19th century.

So the answers to my Presidents Day Beard Quiz are –

Yes; five; Lincoln; Harrison.

And the answer to the question you’re thinking right now:

Yes, I am fatigued to the point of extreme stupor. Or stupidity. Pick one.

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