How Tall Was Abraham Lincoln?

According to the standard percentile scale, Abraham Lincoln’s height placed him in the 99th or 98th percentile.

How tall was Abraham Lincoln? Lincoln’s height is one of the most distinctive physical characteristics of the 16th President of the United States. Many historians assume that, at 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm), he is the tallest U.S. president. As a result of his height, he was able to command respect and attention in debates and public speeches. Lincoln’s height and weight are clearly defied in his biographies and other historical texts. Thus, there is no controversy or disagreement about how tall Lincoln was, and his stature still lives on as a symbol of power and dominance.

Young Abe Lincoln with his enormous hands.
Abe Lincoln with his enormous hands.

Abraham Lincoln, at 6’4″ (193 cm), was not only the tallest US president but also had the largest hands among world leaders other than Maximinus Thrax, who was allegedly 8 feet, one finger (2.4 meters) tall. Lincoln’s enormous hands often made him self-conscious, so he would hide them in his coat or pockets to avoid intimidating others. Despite this, a few photographs have captured their size. According to the Lincoln Lore bulletin from 1936, the circumference of his hands is determined to be ten inches and his bare feet measured 12 inches (30.5 cm).

Historical Records on Abraham Lincoln’s Height

His autobiographies

Abraham Lincoln full body portrait.

Due to the diversity of sources, we do know for sure how tall Abraham Lincoln was. Since the United States was preoccupied with the Civil War, there was never an official height measurement of Lincoln taken during his lifetime. However, we know from his autobiographies and other references that Abraham Lincoln stood at a height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm).

“If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it maybe said, I am in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray eyes. No other marks or brands recollected.”

Abraham Lincoln, in his autobiography.
Abraham Lincoln with his 7-inch-tall stovepipe hat.
Abraham Lincoln with his 7-inch-tall stovepipe hat.

Unlike many other public speakers of the time, Lincoln didn’t use raised platforms when he spoke to large crowds. Instead, he used his height to his advantage. Diet has a significant role in determining a person’s final stature, and even a century or two ago, the average American had access to superior nutrition than the average European.

The fire in the White House

white house stable 1864
A fire broke out at the White House stable (right) on February 10, 1864.

In February 1864, during a fire in the White House, President Lincoln attempted to enter a burning White House stable to rescue six trapped horses, including two belonging to his sons Willie and Tad. Despite being restrained by those nearby, Lincoln personally broke open the stable door but was stopped by the guards. The loss of Willie’s pony was an especially great source of pain for him.

According to the Lehrman Institute, the president was spotted at the fire by William P. Bogardus, who was part of the guard team selected to serve as Lincoln’s mounted escort, and Bogardus remarked: “As we stood watching the burning building someone put a hand on the tight board fence that surrounded the barn and vaulted over. The fence was over six feet high.

Was Abraham Lincoln Unusually Tall for His Time?

With his towering stature, Abraham Lincoln stands alongside his officers.
With his towering stature, Abraham Lincoln stands alongside his officers.

Abraham Lincoln stood at a height that was uncommon for his day. He often used the fact that he was the tallest person in the room as a conversation opener. According to the standard percentile scale, his height placed him in the 99th or 98th percentile. Lincoln is shown above alongside around 15 other men, all of whom are noticeably shorter than he is (only one of whom reaches his jaw).

In 1950, American men typically stood at a height of 5 feet, 5 inches (165 cm). Lincoln towered above this by 11 inches. The average height of a contemporary American male is roughly 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm).

"Lincoln Was the Tallest President", 1929.
“Lincoln Was the Tallest President”, 1929.

In 1850, the average height of an American soldier was 5’7″ (170 cm). From the Revolutionary War to World War II, Americans were taller than Europeans on average. This height advantage was likely due to the abundance of resources, including diverse nutrition and a better diet, in America’s largely privately-owned agricultural society.

Coming from a family with tall people, such as his 6 feet (183 cm) tall father, Abraham Lincoln was indeed too tall for his time. He was 9 inches (23 cm) taller than the average American soldier during the Civil War and an inch shorter than the current average height for males in the country. His height was also especially unusual due to the fact that the standard deviation of height at the time was 3 inches instead of 4 inches (7.6 cm instead of 10 cm) today.

When Did Lincoln Reach a Height of 6 Feet 4 Inches?

Abraham Lincoln sitting

According to the myth, Abraham Lincoln was already 5’5 (165 cm) tall when he was only 9 years old. According to “The Life of Abraham Lincoln; From His Birth to His Inauguration as President” by Ward H. Lamon, at the age of 15, Abraham Lincoln rapidly grew, and by the time he was 17 years old, he had already attained his full height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm).

As a teenager, Lincoln was known for his long, wiry build and disproportionate extremities. He had a small torso and a small head in comparison to his long and powerful limbs.

At a towering height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm), Abraham Lincoln stood out even among the giants of the pioneering family he belonged to. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father, was also a big, burly man himself, standing at six feet tall and weighing in at about two hundred pounds; he was sluggish in both speech and movement.

Did Lincoln Have Marfan’s Syndrome?

Historians speculate that Lincoln may have had Marfan’s syndrome, a condition that causes increased height and hand size, along with possible low muscle tone. However, this is uncertain. His height, long, lanky limbs, long, narrow face, etc. are all characteristics of Marfan Syndrome, which has been proposed as a possible cause of his physical features. A rare genetic ailment that wasn’t understood until long after his passing, the discovery of Marfan syndrome only happened in 1896.

Connective tissue, which serves as the “glue” between cells, is disrupted in Marfan syndrome, a hereditary condition. Some of the most often reported symptoms are unusually long fingers and toes, a long, narrow face, heart murmurs, an enlarged aorta; other cardiovascular concerns, impaired eyesight, and abdominal and limb discomfort. As reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people with Marfan syndrome tend to be tall, slender, and loose-jointed.

The Personal Appearance of Lincoln

abraham lincoln

According to “The Life of Abraham Lincoln” from 1872, Lincoln’s skin was dark, shriveled, and yellow in color. He dressed in simple clothing, including low shoes, buckskin pants, a rough shirt, and an opossum or raccoon skin top hat. Lincoln was described in great detail by a gentleman who knew him well in Springfield. Standing 6’4″ (193 cm) he had a gaunt and wiry frame with a short torse, long arms relative to his height, and legs in proportion to his body. Lincoln was slow in movement with a deliberate, firm gait, often with his head tilted forward and hands clasped behind his back.

In attire, Lincoln was clean but not fashionable, except for his famous tall hat, and in manners, he was cordial and simple. He greeted friends warmly with a handshake and a smile. Narrow in the shoulders, Lincoln’s features were not conventionally handsome at rest, but his dark gray eyes often showed great emotion. Lincoln had black, wiry hair and a relatively small head. He had a slightly Roman nose, a wide mouth, and a weather-beaten complexion.

As a US president, Lincoln was never strict in his ideas and was open to hearing out people like Frederick Douglas, a prominent abolitionist and black philosopher.

Abraham Lincoln’s Height With His Hat

How Tall Was Abraham Lincolns Hat 3

His head measured eight inches from front to back and six and a half inches from ear to ear. His hat measured seven and one-eighth inches.

Abraham Lincoln had numerous top hats in his lifetime, and the height of all of his top hats varied between seven and eight inches. When Abraham Lincoln wore his famous 7-inch-tall stovepipe hat, he seemed much taller than his natural height of 6 feet, 4 inches (193 cm). The addition of the hat made Abe almost 7 feet tall, bringing his total height to 6 feet 11 inches (211 cm).

At 6’4″, How Strong Was Abraham Lincoln?

Despite his towering stature and thin frame, narrow shoulders and waist, Abraham Lincoln had extraordinary power in his arms and hands. When he was younger, he made a name for himself as a skilled worker and wrestler. Wrestling was one of the few sports in which Lincoln excelled. The advantages he had from his stature and the size of his hands were substantial. Before he entered politics, he had a successful career as a wrestler, where he lost just once in more than 300 fights. When it came to splitting rails, he was a formidable figure.

During the Civil War, when he was over 52 years old and not too healthy, he would still shake hundreds of hands in a day, carry a large axe with one hand while keeping his arm stretched for many minutes, and ferociously chop wood to keep his injured men warm, all while never exceeding a weight of 190 pounds. Lincoln had the biggest size 14 boots of any president, and his physicians remarked on his extraordinary muscular structure after his death. Abraham Lincoln was a powerful orator and a towering personality in the 19th century.

He once engaged in a duel with a man named James Shields in 1842, and during the course of the fight, he swung his broadsword through the air and struck a neighboring tree limb, slicing it clean off.

How Tall is Abraham Lincoln’s Statue?

The Lincoln Statue at the Lincoln Memorial is 19 feet (5.8 m) tall, despite its initial design of about 10 feet (3 m). The end product is a statue of Abraham Lincoln that would stand 28 feet (8.5 m) tall. The statue also measures 19 feet in width, which is what makes it appear more impressive.

The Tallest US Presidential Candidate Ever

Lincoln stands half an inch higher than the second-tallest US president, Lyndon B. Johnson, who is 6 feet, 3.5 inches (1.92 meters). On the other hand, Winfield Scott (6 ft 5 in, or 1.96 m), was an inch taller than Lincoln, and he is still the tallest US presidential candidate in history. George Washington was 6 feet 0 (1.83 m) and the shortest US president was James Madison at 5 feet 4.2 inches (1.63 m).

By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige works at Malevus as a history writer. His areas of historical interest include the ancient world and early Europe, as well as the history of modern culture.