This one almost goes without saying – good ol’ Honest Abe had one of the most iconic beards in American history. Lincoln was the first U.S. president to sport a beard, initiating a line of 9 subsequent presidents who rocked facial hair. The mid to late 1800s were an important period in American beard history – this is the era you most likely picture when you think of a classic bearded gentlemen sipping a whiskey by the fireside. For the first time in American history, men celebrated the beard not merely as something to shave or not shave, but as a groomed and styled symbol of status and good taste. Beards were so important during this era that beard growth potions and medicines appeared on the American market for the first time, paving the way for modern beard oils like Northern Fir.
2. WALT WHITMAN
Photo credit: Will, Flickr
American essayist and poet Walt Whitman was a major beard proponent. Whitman sported one of the fullest, manliest beards in American history as a symbol of masculinity and good health. Beards featured in his poetry, and in his essay “Manly Health and Training” Whitman suggested that a beard “is a great sanitary protection to the throat — for purposes of health it should always be worn.” Though we should take his 19th century medical wisdom with a grain of salt, we can all agree that Whitman’s beard is strikingly handsome – it’s even inspired poetry about it.
3. BILLY GIBBONS
Photo credit: aaronHwarren, Flickr
Ah, America – land of barbeque, beer, and rock music. Billy Gibbons is best known as the front man for beloved Texan rock band ZZ Top and owner of a lustrous, long beard. While anyone can look cool rocking out on an electric guitar, we think the power-beard really takes it to another level. What’s he really up to under there? We may never know. Plus, it offers him extra credibility for crooning about sharp dressed men.
4. TORMUND GIANTSBANE
Photo Credit: Patrik Nygren, Flickr
He may technically be a wildling played by a Norwegian (Kristofer Hivju), but what could be more American than championing a rebel militia to take down a king you don’t like? Plus, the American-made Game of Thrones TV series has taken the country by storm, and we’re all having a moment with Giantsbane’s beard. His is a classic example of a beard that blends form and function – it not only strikes fear into the heart of the enemy, but also keeps his face toasty and protected during the brutal northern winter.
There have been plenty of iconic American beards over the years - who would you add to the list?