Monday, April 27, 2009
AMERICAN BEARD YEAR by MARK SHAPIRO
AMERICAN BEARD YEAR
The beard in America is to have long seasons, but comes as goes as regularly as leaves in autumn, budding anew in the spring.
It was autumn on the male face and beards were out of favor when the colonists settled the easter seaboard. Only such hardy individuals as capt. john smith, clung to the glorious foliage.
Capt. Myles Standish of the mayflower company of plymouth, is usually depicted sporting a pointed military beard, and so are other pilgrims in arms. But
most of the colonists seem to have been clean shaven, and by the late 1600s beards were seldom to be seen.
The revolutionary soliders were clean shaven almost to a man. Likenesses of 49 signers of the declaration of independence show not a beard, moustache or any serious sideburns. The leaders of the time set the trend, and the rest followeed, as the art work of the period indicates.
Beards began to bud again about 1810. Suddenly, whiskers and sideburns began to sprout, But the style was slow to gather momentum, and beards kept coming in, without being in, right up to the civil war.
Abraham Lincoln really triggered the beginning of the american beard period. He entered the white house whiskerless, but grew a glorious beard while residing there. He ended a drought of 72 years in which no president had a beard or moustache. Only two had even wore sideburns, John Quincy Adams and Martin VAn buren.
In the 30 years after the civil war, full beards were evident from the halls of congress to the baseball diamonds. A beard had become a mark of conservatism and dignity.
President rutherford hayes sprouted the crowning glory of the era, the most magnificent of the many grand presidential beards after lincoln.
President william mckinley ended the string of bearded presidents. Following him, ted roosevelt and william taft compromised mckinleys facial nakedness with moustaches, but the american beard had run its first full cycle in our history. It took about 270 years.
The 1960s now seem to hard back to 1810, as the beginning of a new long spring. Discounting the beatniks in the 1950s bearded cult and the extreme hippie, beards sprung up on the faces of the bolder junior executives on madison avenue, and on the more "common people".
Yes, it is 1810 again. If history repeats, we are in for another 50 year spring, when beards slowly will come back in favor.
It will be climaxed with the president growing a beard in the white house about 2019...UNLESS , OF COURSE, THE PRESIDENT IS A WOMAN.