Blog post #7 label

Abraham Lincolns top hat
(National Museum of American History)

“A survey of Civil War artifacts in the Smithsonian’s collections would not be complete without one of the most cherished pieces at the National Museum of American History—a top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln, who, in all but six weeks of his term as the 16th president of the United States led a country at war. The president wore this hat, made by Washington, D.C. hat maker J. Y. Davis and adorned with a black silk mourning band in honor of his deceased son Willie, to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, the night he was assassinated. “He sets it next to his chair where, days later, the military recovers it, trying to preserve the scene of the crime, and transfers it to the Department of the Interior, which transfers it to the Smithsonian Institution,” says curator Harry Rubenstein. The top hat is on display in “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life” at the American History Museum through May 30, 2011.”


Lincolns Top hat was one that immediately caught my attention, I mean how could it not. one of the most influential and cultural changing people to America and the world. Something I found interesting to note and start with. Abraham Lincoln stood at 6 foot 4 inches making him our tallest president ever. Choosing to wear this top hat was  a way to stand out from others. Being that Lincoln was already 6 foot 4 inches, the nearly 8 inch hat had a crowd watching at all times. He wore the hat at all times, during peace or war, informal or formal.“it had become the irrepressible symbol of prestige and authority.” as some say. Interesting story of the hat, during the the beginning of President Lincolns second term he was on a horseback traveling to a near by soldiers home. When a would be assassin fired a gun at Lincoln, the bullet passed straight through the top hat. This was told by many as a time that the top hat of Lincoln saved his life and I believe it. The top hat stood out to me instantly and I knew it was something I wanted to look into more and I am glad I go the chance to look into this more. The top hat ls an icon in itself and will live on as so.

2 thoughts on “Blog post #7 label

  1. Hey!
    First of all, I love that you chose Lincoln’s hat as your object. The moment I saw the hat, it caught my eye. It made me think of “New Girl” when Schmidt says, “Statistically speaking, every American thinks about Abraham Lincoln at least once a day…”
    Second of all, I love that you included a quote in your description. I think a lot of museum descriptions do not provide a background that allows people to personally connect with history. However, including a quote to make the hat feel more personal than just stating it is Abe Lincoln’s allows people to connect with history better.

  2. What a fantastic find in the Smithsonian’s collections! I really enjoyed reading about your label and your additional thoughts and analysis about this item. I agree with Elise that it was a great idea to include this quote from the curator in your label– it certainly brings Lincoln’s final moments to life. I also like the details you provided regarding how top hats in general were more or less a status symbol. Lincoln was incredibly tall (even by today’s standards) and this hat must have made him a brooding figure. I had no idea about the first assassination attempt and how this hat may have saved his life– how interesting! Thank you for all of these great thoughts and details.

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