National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
“A tall, ill-favored man, with little grace.”
In 1861, the elegant Bostonian Charles Francis Adams characterized Lincoln in the quotation above. Lincoln described himself as “six feet four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes.” Seemingly ungainly, Lincoln was physically strong, easily winning such frontier tests of strength as wrestling or holding a large axe parallel to the ground. Lincoln’s physical prowess helped him to connect with ordinary working Americans.