It’s Facial Hair Friday! Since the new film Lincoln has spent a few weeks in theaters, we thought it’d be interesting to learn more about President Lincoln’s fantastically hairy cabinet.
First up is Gideon Welles, who served as President Lincoln’s and then as President Johnson’s Secretary of the Navy from 1861 to 1869, the longest anyone had held the position. Welles had facial hair almost as prodigious as his political presence. Look at that beard—and those curls!
But he wasn’t just about fine grooming:
When the “slavery issue” emerged in the 1850s, Welles became a major figure in the newly formed Republican party, serving as Republican national committeeman and member of the party’s national executive committee. He also helped establish the Hartford Evening Press to support the party. He was a strong advocate for Lincoln and abolition, and was rewarded with appointment to President Lincoln’s cabinet. Throughout his career, Welles was regarded as an unusually astute, methodical, and poised politician.
Learn more about Wells and his role on Pieces of History.
Images: Circa 1860–1865, National Archives, ARC Identifiers 525398 (left), 526505 (right).