Dakota Datebook

Abe Lincoln’s Hat

Sunday, June 13, 2004

One of Abraham Lincoln’s personal bodyguards was Smith Stimmel, who later practiced law in North Dakota. In his book, “Personal Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln,” he wrote that the president’s hat was always dented and messed up. One evening he learned why. As Stimmel accompanied Lincoln’s carriage to his summer home, they met a military officer on horseback. The officer recognized Lincoln and lifted his hat in a graceful salute. Lincoln was busy with some papers and didn’t see the salute until the last second.

“He threw up his long arm and knocked off his tall hat,” Stimmel wrote, “and then tumbled it back on his head and brought his big hand down on the crown to press it firmly in place. That was his return salute, and it was easy to see what rubbed up the fur on that hat… It was his business to get that hat off quickly, and the quickest way he could get it off was to knock it off.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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