The Great Lengths Taken to Make Abraham Lincoln Look Good in Photos

Abraham Lincoln had a problem. During his 1860 campaign as a Republican candidate for the American presidency, in an era after the birth of the photograph but before its widespread dissemination in the media, many of the country’s citizens could only guess at what he looked like.

Rumors of his ugliness proliferated. The North Carolina newspaper The Newbern Weekly Progress wrote that Lincoln was “coarse, vulgar and uneducated,” while the Houston Telegraph opined that he was “the leanest, lankiest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms and hatchet face ever strung upon a single frame. He has most unwarrantably abused the privilege which all politicians have of being ugly.”
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