Celebrating Lincoln through Stamps and Postal History

A Suggestion for Lincoln

1-cent Abraham Lincoln single
This stamp features a portrait of Lincoln painted by George Healy right after Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election. This was one of the last images produced from life that portrayed the Lincoln without a beard. The 1-cent Lincoln Sesquicentennial stamp was issued February 12, 1959.

Less than three weeks before the 1860 election, an eleven year old girl from Westfield, New York, named Grace Bedell wrote a letter to the Republican Party presidential candidate. In her letter, Bedell told Lincoln that after seeing a picture of him from a campaign poster that her father brought home, she was inspired to write to him. She wrote, “I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway 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.”

Earlier in Grace Bedell’s letter she asked Lincoln if he had any daughters. In his reply four days later, Lincoln addressed this question first: "My dear little Miss…I regret the necessity of saying that 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, having never worn any, do you think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well wisher A. Lincoln."

Grace Bedell got a chance to see for herself if the “whiskers” she suggested fitted Abraham Lincoln as she expected. While en route from Springfield, Illinois, to his inauguration in Washington, DC, President-elect Abraham Lincoln stopped in Grace Bedell’s hometown of Westfield, New York. At the stop, Lincoln asked if he could meet Miss Bedell. After coming up from the crowd, Lincoln told her, “you see I have let these whiskers grow for you, Grace.”

20-cent A Nation of Readers stamp
The image of President Lincoln with his youngest son Tad featured on the Nation of Readers stamp was based on a photograph taken by Matthew Brady. Tad was seven years old when Lincoln responded to Grace Bedell's letter and Lincoln's beard, evident in the stamp, was a direct consequenece of their exchange.