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Tag: secretary of war

Facial Hair Friday: The Curiously Facial Hairless Members of Lincoln’s Cabinet

In the late 1700s, as Americans fought for their independence, most men were clean-shaven. As we moved into the 1800s, however, facial hair—elaborate facial hair, at that—came back into style.

Despite this shift, many men remained clean-shaven. A smooth face was often considered more professional and refined, but facial hair denoted ruggedness.

It is not a huge surprise, therefore, that many of President Lincoln’s cabinet members had no facial hair.

Montgomery Blair, 1860–1865, ARC Identifier 528437.

Montgomery Blair was an abolitionist despite his upbringing in a prominent slave-holding family in Franklin County, Kentucky. He was also one of the founders of the Republican party. President Lincoln appointed Blair as his Postmaster General in 1861, then replaced him in 1864, following Blair’s own suggestion. Blair told his wife that the President “acted from the best motives” and that “it is for the best all around.” He campaigned for Lincoln’s reelection and remained close with Lincoln’s family.

Simon Cameron, circa 1860–1865, ARC Identifier 528097.

Simon Cameron was orphaned at age nine and apprenticed to printer and editor Andrew Kennedy. He entered into journalism, and later rail line construction and banking, among other business enterprises. He was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1844, but eventually switched to the Republican party. Although Cameron was nominated as a presidential candidate in the 1860 election, he gave … [ Read all ]

Edwin Stanton: Facial Hair Rock Icon

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (111-B-4559)

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (111-B-4559)

Attorney General, Secretary of War, Supreme Court Justice, inspiration for ZZ-Top?

Whether the bearded rock band drew their inspiration from Stanton is unclear, but one thing is certain: Edwin Stanton would have made a fine rock star, playing by his own rules and shaking things up in Washington. In fact, perhaps the most fascinating thing about Edwin Stanton’s beard is that it’s the least fascinating thing about a man who defined three US presidencies.

  • As a lawyer, he once remarked “Why did you bring that damned long armed ape here?” about an attorney on his law team. The man was future President (and boss) Abraham Lincoln.*
  • In 1859, he was the first American lawyer to successfully use the plea of temporary insanity to protect his client, future Union General Daniel Sickles, from the charge that he killed the son of Francis Scott Key.
  • In 1860, President James Buchanan appointed Stanton as Attorney General, and it was Stanton who is largely credited with keeping the Buchanan administration in check during its final months in office.
  • Following Lincoln’s assassination, then-Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was ultimately responsible for the fate of John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators as they were tried in military, not civilian courts.
  • When Andrew Johnson assumed office, Stanton stayed on as Secretary of War much longer
[ Read all ]