House Speaker Paul Ryan has been called a young man in a hurry. The 45-year-old Wisconsin Republican is the youngest person to hold the job in a century and a half — and on Monday he laid claim to another historic title.
“Apparently, I’m the first Speaker to sport a beard in about 100 years,” he wrote in a post accompanying an Instagram pic. On Twitter, he called out to the House Historian to confirm.
The historians tweeted back, noting that the last bearded speaker was Frederick Gillett, who left the House speakership in 1925, when he was elected to the Senate.
But the gentleman from Wisconsin might be putting the cart before the horse. The “beard” Ryan is displaying in the photo could more accurately be called a scruff: Judging from photographic evidence, it can’t be more than ten days or so old. No mater how you define “beard,” Ryan’s burgeoning facial hair is well short of the lush fringe populating the chin of old Gillett. We’ll give it a few weeks.
In the meantime, though, the social-media exchange offered an enlightening history lesson on the facial hair of past speakers.