List of presidents of the United States with facial hair

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The majority of presidents of the United States have been clean-shaven, including the Founding Fathers.[1] Between 1861 and 1913, all but two presidents (Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) wore either beards or mustaches during their tenure in office.


John Quincy Adams (1825–1829) was the first U.S. president to have notable facial hair, with long sideburns.[2] But the first major departure from the tradition of clean-shaven chief executives was Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865),[3][4][5] who was supposedly (and famously) influenced by a letter received from an eleven-year-old girl named Grace Bedell, to start growing a beard to improve his chances of being elected.[6][7] After Lincoln, all but two presidents over the next 48 years sported some form of facial hair; the exceptions being Andrew Johnson (1865–1869) and William McKinley (1897–1901).[8]

Beards and mustaches fell out of favor due to health reasons, as described on the PBS website pertaining to a documentary on tuberculosis: "Most men at the turn of the [twentieth] century featured stylish beards or mustaches, but showing off a smooth face became a new trend once public health officials maintained that men could transmit dangerous infectious particles through the scruff of their facial hair. An editorial in a 1903 Harper's Weekly stated, "Now that consumption is no longer consumption, but tuberculosis, and is not hereditary but infectious…the theory of science is that the beard is infected with the germs of tuberculosis." Ultimately, the clean-shaven look became a symbol of the new middle-class man during the period that Harper's Weekly labeled "the revolt against the whisker."[9]

The most recent president to have had facial hair was William Howard Taft (1909–1913).[10][11][12][13][14] President Harry Truman briefly grew a mustache and goatee (which he jokingly referred to as a "Jeff Davis") while vacationing in Key West, Florida, after the 1948 presidential election.[15]

The last major candidate from any party to have a beard was Charles Evans Hughes, who was defeated at the 1916 presidential election.[16] The last major party candidate for the presidency to have any facial hair was Thomas E. Dewey, who had a mustache, and was defeated at both the 1944 and 1948 presidential elections.[17][18] Some pundits even claimed that public disapproval of Dewey's mustache may have contributed to his two electoral defeats.[19][20][21][22]

Social scientists have researched the effect of facial hair on the electability of presidential candidates, and currently consider facial hair to have a negative effect on candidates.[11][23][24] Today, the existence of facial hair on potential presidential candidates is regularly noted (albeit somewhat jokingly) as a harmful factor.[25][26]

Following is a list of American presidents who had facial hair at any time during their tenure.[27]


No. Portrait Name
Beard Mustache Sideburns When? Color
6 JQA Photo.tif John Quincy Adams
1825–1829 Democratic-Republican Dark Red x.svg No Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes 1810s Black
8 Martin Van Buren.jpg Martin Van Buren
1837–1841 Democratic Dark Red x.svg No Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes 1800s White
12 Zachary Taylor restored and cropped.jpg Zachary Taylor
1849–1850 Whig Dark Red x.svg No Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes 1810s Gray
16 Abraham Lincoln November 1863.jpg Abraham Lincoln
1861–1865 Republican Green check.svg Yes Dark Red x.svg No N/A 1860 Black
18 Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg Ulysses S. Grant
1869–1877 Republican Green check.svg Yes Green check.svg Yes N/A 1852 Brown
19 President Rutherford Hayes 1870 - 1880 Restored.jpg Rutherford B. Hayes
1877–1881 Republican Green check.svg Yes Green check.svg Yes N/A 1854 Black
20 James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated.jpg James A. Garfield
1881-1881 Republican Green check.svg Yes Green check.svg Yes N/A 1850 Light brown
21 Chester Alan Arthur.jpg Chester A. Arthur
1881-1885 Republican Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes Green check.svg Yes 1847 Brown[28]
22 StephenGroverCleveland.png Grover Cleveland
1885–1889 Democratic Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes Dark Red x.svg No 1859 Brown
23 Benjamin Harrison, head and shoulders bw photo, 1896.jpg Benjamin Harrison
1889–1893 Republican Green check.svg Yes Green check.svg Yes N/A 1849 Brown
24 StephenGroverCleveland.png Grover Cleveland
1893–1897 Democratic Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes Dark Red x.svg No 1859 Brown
26 T Roosevelt.jpg Theodore Roosevelt
1901–1909 Republican Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes Dark Red x.svg No 1880 Brown
27 William Howard Taft 1909.jpg William Howard Taft
1909–1913 Republican Dark Red x.svg No Green check.svg Yes Dark Red x.svg No 1880s Brown
33 TRUMAN 58-766-06.jpg Harry S. Truman
1945–1953 Democratic Green check.svg Yes[a] Green check.svg Yes[a] Dark Red x.svg No 1948 Gray


  1. ^ a b Truman had facial hair for a brief period of time in 1948 which he nicknamed the "Jeff Davis".


  1. ^ Hoogenboom, Ari. What Really Caused The Civil War?, Wisconsin Magazine of History (1960) ("The founding fathers were without beards, as were all Presidents from Washington to Buchanan.")
  2. ^ Most Presidents Have Favored Beardless Look, Star-Banner (Associated Press), August 27, 1986
  3. ^ Brus, Michael.Beards, Slate (magazine), August 9, 2001
  4. ^ Whiskers in History, Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1888 ("Thirty Years Ago a Bearded Man in the United States Was an Exception – The Fathers of the Republic Were Smooth Shaven – All Republican Candidates and Presidents Have Worn Full Beards, While No Democrat Has Yet Been Able to Display More than a Mustache")
  5. ^ Presidential Whiskers, Atlanta Constitution, January 7, 1892
  6. ^ Kansas Honors Girl Who Urged Lincoln To Grow Whiskers, The New York Times, August 9, 1966
  7. ^ Shapiro, Ben. Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House, ch. 6 (2008) (ISBN 978-1595551009)
  8. ^ Best presidential criterion: Hair, USA Today, October 10, 1996
  9. ^ "General Article: Did You Know?". American Experience. PBS.
  10. ^ Paxson, Peyton, Media literacy: thinking critically about visual culture, p.91 (2004)(ISBN 978-0825149917)
  11. ^ a b Herrick, Rebekah, Mendez, Jeanette and Pryor, Ben, Razors Edge: The Politics of Facial Hair (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper ("Although between Lincoln and Taft all but two presidents had facial hair, Pres. Taft was the last President to have facial hair. In Congress, at the beginning of the 110th Congress less than 5% of Congressmen had facial hair. Interestingly this decline occurred as women got the right to vote. This paper explores whether there could be a connection.")
  12. ^ About Whiskers, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1916 ("The fact that Presidential Candidate Hughes, and his running mate on the Republican ticket, Mr. Fairbanks, have whiskers has been much commented on the last day or two, and will be likely to cause much...")
  13. ^ Whiskers and Presidency: Kern The Only Democratic Aspirant Who Wears Full Beard, The Baltimore Sun, January 25, 1912
  14. ^ Locke, Walter. Time for a Turn in the Whisker Cycle, The Miami News, March 1, 1949
  15. ^ LIFE November 22, 1948
  16. ^ Will campaign be decided by a close shave?, The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 23, 2004
  17. ^ Facial Hair Unacceptable for Presidential Politics, Reading Eagle (Knight Ridder), November 2, 1996
  18. ^ Efron, Edith. Saga of the Mustache, The New York Times, August 20, 1944
  19. ^ Grimsley, Edward. Victory is under the candidate's nose, Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 15, 1991 ("Pundits attributed Dewey's defeats partly to public disapproval of his mustache.")
  20. ^ Montgomery, M.R. Dewey's Facial Flaw, The Boston Globe, November 7, 1986 ("Thomas E. Dewey had a mustache, which was one of the reasons he did not get elected president.")
  21. ^ A Beard for Nixon? The Matter Raises White House Eyebrows, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1971
  22. ^ Olin, Dirk. In Politics, the Mustache Is the Kiss of Death, Los Angeles Times, October 31, 1988
  23. ^ Armstrong, J. Scott & Graefe, Andreas. Predicting Elections from Biographical Information About Candidates: A Test of the Index Method (March 1, 2010). Journal of Business Research (Forthcoming) ("Given that most politicians, especially in recent years (note that William Taft was the last U.S. president with facial hair), are clean shaved, facial hair is expected to have a negative effect on the evaluation of candidates.")
  24. ^ Whiskers in Politics, The Boston Globe, May 22, 1896 ("An enterprising student of politics has been pursuing a line of research designed to show the relation of whiskers to successful presidential candidacies.")
  25. ^ John Bolton Threatens to Run for President If You Don’t Start Paying Attention to Him, New York (magazine), August 30, 2010 ("The last man with facial hair to be elected president was William Howard Taft, in 1908. That in itself should disqualify John Bolton and his enormous, walruslike mustache from even thinking about running in 2012.")
  26. ^ Buchwald, Art. Race or Facial Hair?, Southeast Missourian, April 9, 1984 (satirical article noting Jesse Jackson's mustache as a negative factor in the 1984 Democratic primary contests)
  27. ^ Allan D. Peterkin (2001), One thousand beards: a cultural history of facial hair, pp. 36–37, ISBN 9781551521077
  28. ^ "Picture of Chester Arthur ***".

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