In 1797, London haberdasher John Hetherington was hauled into court on charges of breaching the King's peace, found guilty, and ordered to pay a £50 fine. His crime? Wearing a silk top hat, or, as it was described in court, "appearing on the public highway wearing upon his head a tall structure having a shining lustre and calculated to frighten timid people." According to contemporary reports, people booed, dogs barked, women fainted, and a small boy suffered a broken arm after a crowd formed around the hapless Mr. Hetherington.
Top hats were evidently outlawed in London for a time after that, although not for very long—50 years later, Prince Albert boosted the hat's popularity in England by wearing one, and establishing the primacy of the top hat for generations to come. In America, it's virtually impossible to picture Abraham Lincoln without it, Monopoly just wouldn't be the same without it, and what else would Uncle Sam possibly wear?