Abraham Lincoln is remembered wearing a top hat. No costume representing him his complete without it. In the 19th century top hats were worn by men in the upper class. The top hat, oddly enough, can symbolize both power and wealth as well as truth and honesty.
Just as Abraham Lincoln whore a top hat, Uncle Sam is almost always depicted with one. Whenever Uncle Sam is favorably shown, it is with a top hat. Usually (at least originally) when he is not wearing one, he is shown as weak or fearful. This last version I was unable to find an image of but I know I have seen them.
|Rich Uncle Pennybags|
The popular stories of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory as well as Alice in Wonderland both have characters wearing top hats. They are the Mad Hatter and Willy Wonka.
Top hats can also be seen with magicians pulling rabbits out of them, though I'm not sure where that came from. Now they are usually made of felt for costumes but at first they were made of silk and thus cost a lot.
Before Lincoln, much before, George Washington is remembered wearing a Tricorne. A three point hat ("tri-" means three, "-cornu" means horn) the tricorne could be worn by anyone. The thing was, the average man's hat would be made of plain, brown leather. A rich and/or powerful man would most likely have one in black with gold embellishments and sometimes white feathers.
|Captain Jack Sparrow|