Abraham Lincoln’s Stovepipe Hat
Nothing brings the image of Abraham Lincoln to mind better than his iconic stovepipe hat. And nothing sums up Lincoln’s beliefs better than a scrap of paper he may have stored in that battered hat. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy,” the piece of paper says.
Now, just in time for Lincoln’s birthday, both the hat and the note on democracy are going on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. They’ll be added to the museum’s Treasures Gallery on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and remain on display about six months.
The beaver-fur hat has two bare patches on its brim where Lincoln’s fingers wore it out as he continually doffed it to passersby.
As he traveled from courthouse to courthouse on the Illinois prairie, Lincoln needed to stay warm and protect his legal papers. “Solving both problems, Lincoln kept his head warm and dry under this beaver-fur stovepipe hat, and he tucked his letters inside the hatband. It was his ‘office in his hat,’ according to a fellow attorney, and everyone on the circuit knew this amusing characteristic of Lincoln,” said ALPLM Lincoln Curator James Cornelius.
To hear more about Abraham Lincoln’s hat, listen to our latest podcast.
Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation
Copyrighted and designed by Mrs. M. M. Pabor in 1888 this commemorative lithograph of the Emancipation Proclamation was printed in Cincinnati, Ohio and features the allegorical ladies, Justice and Liberty. Other symbols of peace and justice, the laurel leaves and grapes are featured on the print. Because not all slaves were freed immediately with the issuance of the Proclamation in 1863, Mrs. Pabor added a note to this copy: “The rest of the slaves were freed by legislation, and Constitutional amendments.” This statement refers to the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
This lithograph is currently on display as part of our most recent version of our “Boys in Blue” exhibit currently on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library until March, 2014.
©2013 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Boys In Blue: Diary entry from Sgt. Ashford H Magee of the 77th Illinois Infantry Company E
Dr. C.M. Colquet of leo “A” 1st Ala Arty. Ft. Morgan age 40 years, Departed this life 4th July 1864. If a man dies Shall he live again.
All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my chance comes
Rest, rest, rest in peace.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—-we can not consecrate—-we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that, government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863
Camping Out with the Boys in 1894: 28th National Convention, G.A.R.
There might not have been tents or sweet-smelling wood smoke involved, but the annual encampments for the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) were, like the act of camping, a celebration of nature—in this case, human nature. Established to recognize the efforts of Union soldiers during the Civil War, the G.A.R. brought men together from its inception in 1866 until its dissolution in 1956, under the watchwords of Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. An annual encampment, or convention, was held every year through 1949 to honor those who died in the Civil War, and to foster comradeship among veterans. Each veteran in attendance received that year’s G.A.R. encampment ribbon badge.
The ALPLM has received hundreds of encampment badges and other G.A.R. memorabilia over the years from generous donors. Typically consisting of a top bar pin connected to a medal via a patriotic ribbon, G.A.R. membership badges resemble the military Medal of Honor, with its characteristic eagle and star. G.A.R. encampment badges on the other hand, showcase more creativity and, in some instances, even beauty. For example, the badge issued at Pittsburghfor the 28th National Encampment in 1894, is striking not only for the level of detail inherent in its design, but the story behind the source materials is itself a work of art.
One of two such badges in the Library’s Artifacts Collection, the 28th National Encampment badge came standard with three separate components: the badge, a protective case, and a paper pamphlet outlining the “History of the Old Cannon from Which This Badge is Made.”
This multi-part badge measures 4.25” x 2.25” overall. It features a top bar pin made of gold-tone metal, with the following engraved scenes: a fort to the left, and marching troops at right. A central inset reads: “GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC / 1861 VETERAN 1866,” around an image of two figures (Peace and Prosperity) shaking hands. Bar reverse has a straight pin with hook clasp, and this maker’s mark: “HEEREN BROS. & CO. PGH.”
A metal jump ring at bar front connects a small gold-tone medallion, depicting a building labeled “OLD BLOCKHOUSE.” Medallion reverse reads: “MEMBER / 28TH NATL. / ENCAMPMENT / PRESENTED / BY / CITIZENS / EX. BOARD.”
The ribbon extending from the top bar pin to the medal proper is yellow, with a U.S.flag motif. The medal is shield-shaped, with a raised lip border and eagle embellishment at top. Border inscription reads: “28TH NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT G.A.R. / SEPT. 1894.” At center is a castle-type fort with the label: “THE SEAL OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH.” Medal reverse shows City Hall and two tablet emblems. The inscription here reads: “HISTORICAL RECORD / OF OLD / CITY HALL / 1861-1865.” Inscribed on the tablets: “409745 / SOLDIERS / ENTERTAINED / IN THIS / HALL / 79460 / SICK & / WOUNDED / PROVIDED / FOR AT THE / SOLDIERS / HOME / TOTAL 489205.”
This metal case for the ribbon badge measures 4.5” x 4.5” overall, and mimics the shape of a cross-section of steel rail. It has a silver-tone steel lid etched with elaborate scenes and border insignia. Above one image of a factory, the case reads: “SOUVENIR / 28TH NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT, G.A.R.” At center: images of the soldiers’ campsite, and a “GAS & OIL” refinery. At bottom: another factory, with the inscription: “PGH,PA.”
The lid opens on a hinge. Case interior is lined with plush wine-colored velvet and red ribbon. The case bottom is brass, painted black.
Cut to fit the case precisely, this slim sheath of papers recounts the way in which an old cannon belonging to the Allegheny Arsenal was donated, by Congress, to The Citizens Executive Board of Pittsburgh in 1893, for the express re-purposing of the weapon into commemorative badges. The pamphlet is addressed to “Comrades of the G.A.R,” and concludes with a list of the committee members for that year’s badge.
It could be said that this single badge tells three distinct and equally valuable tales. Presented as a remembrance at the 28th G.A.R. National Encampment, it echoes first and foremost with the sighs of the Civil War. Struck as it was from an actual cannon that had known battle, the second life of the badge recalls the cyclical natures of life, loss, and hope. Finally, a treasured museum artifact, the badge now shines as a real and present part of history for those who will carry the legacy of the past proudly into the future.
Dirty Socks: Trash or Treasure? Newly Accessioned Artifacts Highlighting Illinois History
When it comes to museum collections, ideally no one artifact receives better care, or more special attention, than any other artifact. Our copy of the Gettysburg Address, for example, written in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand, is a marvel and a treasure. But so is the dirty pair of anonymous stockings dated to the early nineteenth century.
Like the famously flashy artifacts that attract visitors from around the world, one lowly pair of socks teaches us just as much about American history. By studying Lincoln’s handwriting, experts can conclude something about the man’s character. By studying an unnamed young woman’s bridal hosiery, we can also conclude something about her character. Are the socks well cared for? Are there rips, or holes, and if so, were they mended? If they were mended, perhaps the owner couldn’t afford new ones. Perhaps there is a lesson in conscious consumer responsibility here. Alternatively, what kinds of materials were used in making socks in 1835? Are the socks plain, or do they have embroidered patterns? What does this tell us about fashion trends of the day?
Above is a photo of a pair of bridal hosiery, dated to 1835, and now in our Illinois Artifacts Collection. The stockings were donated to the Illinois Historical Society by Agnes P. Reynolds in 1928. The stockings have one long seam up the backside, with a pink-striped hem at top. The ankle area and tops of both feet are intricately embroidered with diamond and stripe patterns. The heel to toe area is plain.
This is the original arrest warrant for Mary Lincoln on charges of insanity.
Mrs. Lincoln was tried in 1875 at the instigation of her son Robert on allegations of insanity, which ultimately led to her being declared a “lunatic” and placed in the Bellevue Sanitarium in Batavia, Illinois. Mary Lincoln obtained an early release from Bellevue with the assistance of her friend, Myra Bradwell. One year after the original insanity trial another jury found her sane, restoring her legal control over her assets. Even today, historians disagree whether the evidence against the First Lady was “trumped up,” whether the procedures used constituted due process, and what would occur if today’s modernized health laws were applied to the same facts.
Tonight, here in our Union Theater, Mary Lincoln’s insanity trial will be retried using modern rules. A roster of well-known modern judges will serve as attorneys for the petitioner and respondent, and audience members will decide Mrs. Lincoln’s fate after hearing the arguments and testimony.
If you are unable to be in attendance this evening, there will be a live webcast of the proceedings here: https://new.livestream.com/blueroomstream/events/1431860
More details: http://ow.ly/e5Ju2