This Is a Blog: Commanders in Beards

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Commanders in Beards

Part 5 of 12: Lincoln to Hayes

In the mid 19th Century, we as a country were treated to some of the most impressive facial hair in American history. Now watch as a brilliant beard skillfully guides us through the most complicated chapter in American history, then 3 other guys totally fuck up the endgame.

Abraham Lincoln (fmr. Congressman, Republican) 1861-1865 (re-elected, assassinated) VP: Hannibal Hamlin, Andrew Johnson; FL: wife Mary Todd

Abraham Lincoln was a man with a modest beard and, believe it or not, was a giant flip-flopper. He thought slavery was abhorrent, but he just wanted the issue resolved so we could go back to peacefully killing Indians, like the good old days. It was only after careful study and consideration that he realized slavery was an issue so big and so evil that if the North won the war with this pox on our country, the war would never truly be won. Change after careful thought; funny how that works out.

Andrew Johnson (VP, Democrat) 1865-1869 (never elected) VP: none; FL: wife Eliza

Andrew Johnson was a drunken racist. I’m not making this up. He went on a drunken speech tour after Congress took away all his power, and by all personal accounts, he said he thought white people wouldn’t care if blacks never achieved suffrage. No wonder Reconstruction failed so miserably. (Side note: from 1861 to 1897, only one President sported absolutely no facial hair: Johnson)

Hiram Ulysses Simpson Grant (general, Republican) 1869-1877 (re-elected) VP: Schuyler Colfax, Henry Wilson (died); FL: wife Julia

Grant, despite a valiant effort, also totally fucked up Reconstruction. It’s hard to build relations with the South when you’re snorting coke and allowing your administration to sell-out basically everything and everyone. Kinda kills your credibility. He did, however, establish Yellowstone Park and made Christmas a national holiday. As a Jew, I thank him deeply for that last one.

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (Governor, Republican) 1877-1881 (just 1 term) VP: William Wheeler; FL: wife “Lemonade” Lucy

In this age of bearded wisdom, the Republicans followed Grant with Hayes, who possibly was the founding member of ZZ Top. National unity, black rights, pshaw. He was a lot more interested in wrestling Civil Service Reform. I know, exciting, right? What could be so important about about Civil Service Reform that he sold out generations of southern blacks? More on that next week.

Next Up - Garfield to Harrison: The Exciting World of Civil Service Reform

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