Saturday, October 08, 2011

Pierce's Hairstyle

On this day in 1869, Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States and aged 69 years, 319 days, died.

The February 15, 2008, edition of the New Hampshire Historical Society E-Newsletter says, "According to Peter A. Wallner, the Society's library director, every portrait or photograph of Franklin Pierce (1804–69) shows a shock of unruly hair cascading over his forehead. 'Written descriptions of Pierce by contemporaries frequently mention his elegant appearance, immaculate dress, and courtly manners,” said Wallner. 'Why, then, didn’t he comb his hair?'

"Is it possible that the wild, unkempt hair was actually a carefully managed affectation?

“ 'Until now, there were no references to Pierce’s hair discovered in his or his family’s letters,' said Wallner. But, the newly purchased letter, written by his wife in December 1857 from Norfolk, Virginia, after Pierce left the White House, hints that the hairstyle was not accidental. Jane writes, 'Today, Mr. Pierce has met the citizens of Norfolk and after the fatigue is quietly lying on the sofa by a bright fire with Miriam [Jane’s maid] brushing his hair soporifically.'

“ 'While the evidence is not conclusive, the letter leads one to suspect that the vanity Pierce showed for his appearance extended to his hair as well,' says Wallner. Not surprisingly, to those residents of New Hampshire who knew Pierce well, his hair was a distinguishing characteristic of the man."


Kevin Deany said...

I can only fantasize about having hair like that.

Dees Stribling said...

Didn't do him a lot of good in office, though.