Among our extensive collection of Mathew Brady photographs is this one of Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, whose sideburns appear to slide down his cheeks towards his cravat.
The Honorable J. B. Grinnell’s name may seem familiar if you have ever browsed college catalogs, or if you are an alum of Grinnell College, located in Grinnell, Iowa.
Although Grinnell was born in Vermont, he packed up his sideburns and went West in 1854 to set up a Congregational church out in the wilds of the Iowa terrriroty. The town and college that he helped set up both bear his name.
After Iowa became a state, Grinnell served as a state senator and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. In 1862, Grinnell was elected to Congress.
Grinnell crossed paths with Horace Greely, whose neard has been featured on Facial Hair Friday before. Grinnell, along with “Liberal Republicans” and Democrats, supported Greeley for President—presumably for political reasons rather than a shared love of sideburns.
But not all was peaceful in the world of politics and facial hair. On June 14, 1866, Grinnell was assaulted by fellow Representative and sideburn-lover Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau. The Kentucky man beat the unarmed Grinnell with an iron-tipped cane after an incident on the House floor when Grinnell disputed his Civil War record.
After a special investigation, the House cleared Grinnell but censured Rousseau. The former general resigned his seat, only to be reelected by his loyal constituents in the special election held to fill his space.
Both men left politics in 1867 when the 39th Congress concluded.