* Dave McKinney at the Sun-Times has been writing about the doubts regarding the Lincoln Museum’s claim that it has an original Abe Lincoln stovepipe hat. The Lincoln Presidential Library’s foundation board paid $6.5 million to Louise Taper, a collector who also happens to sit on the board.
A descendant of the hat’s owner, claimed in 1958 in an affidavit that the stovepipe was given to her father-in-law by Lincoln during the Civil War. The library claims it was given to the man by Lincoln during an 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas. The library/museum’s curator James Cornelius had this to say last year…
“I guess you’d say we’ve taken something of a historic liberty in re-dating it to a much more plausible time and place,” Cornelius said then.
So, it’s like a Gore Vidal historical novel or something?
* I dunno, but a couple members of the foundation board, including Tony Leone, tried this week to get the board to approve DNA testing. He failed…
The panel did not vote on Leone’s push to have the hat tested for Lincoln’s DNA, a difficult task since Lincoln has no living descendents and his blood exists on precious artifacts from his assassination that might have to be altered for testing purposes.
When Leone brought up the idea, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s curator, James Cornelius, angrily interrupted Leone and belittled his idea.
“This is a dead issue,” Cornelius snapped. “Dandruff, bone, hair, forget it. It’s not there.” […]
Fischer, the board’s chairwoman, said she has concerns about “the potential damage” that DNA testing might cause to the hat and any artifact bearing Lincoln’s blood from the night of his assassination and embraces Cornelius’ explanation of how the hat wound up with William Waller.
“That’s history. We accept it,” Fischer said.
You don’t just “accept” history, particularly when facts have clearly been altered.
Are these people just stupid or arrogant or hiding something or all three?
* Another board member summed up why Chairwoman Fischer is a doofus…
“I haven’t heard an explanation that fully satisfies me about the provenance of the hat. I’m sure somebody can explain it beautifully, but I just haven’t heard it,” said board member Shirley Portwood, a retired Southern Illinois University history professor who said she was troubled by the “large gap” in the hat’s history and believes DNA testing is in order.
“There’s a period of time where it’s not clear where the hat was, and I, as a historian, would have a problem with that. Even in a paper I was writing about it, I would have to have a footnote that said, ‘according to family lore, such and such,’ rather than it had been documented for the entire … 150 years,” Portwood said.
Maybe DNA testing isn’t possible or could damage other artifacts. I don’t know. But the board’s credibility is rapidly vanishing with this fictional account and a stubborn refusal to verify.