Originally published 02/27/2013
...In the wake of Dave McKinney’s stories in the Sun-Times, it has been joy to watch the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield shimmy, trying to escape the obvious conclusion: that no real evidence links the top hat they claim was worn by Lincoln to the 16th president.Yes, it is his size, and yes, it comes from the Springfield hat shop that Lincoln patronized. But to accept that as proof of anything is to believe that every 7 1/8 hat sold in Springfield back then must have belonged to Lincoln. That’s like saying that every sandal from Roman times was worn by Jesus.The library claimed, at first, the hat was given to an Illinois farmer, William Waller, during one of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. This ran into a problem when the Sun-Times pointed out a 1958 affidavit that the hat was given to Waller “during the Civil War in Washington.” Now they had two stories, a conflict, like the three churches that each claimed to own a head of John the Baptist....