CHICAGO (CBS) — President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a priceless piece of history.
Yet someone placed a price tag on it and paid with his job.
Those two sheets of handwritten paper were scribbled by President Lincoln himself. It’s described as a treasure in an Office of the Executive Inspector General’s report.
But now-fired Executive Director Alan Lowe of the Lincoln’s Presidential Library thought it was OK to loan the artifacts to Glenn Beck.
At Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, one of only five copies of the 16th president’s Gettysburg Address speech is now locked away in a vault.
The inspector general’s report says it received a tip Lowe “pimped out” the Gettysburg Address and “other Lincoln artifacts” to Mercury One in 2018 — a museum founded by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. Gov. J.B. Pritzker fired Lowe.
Beck paid $50,000 for the artifact.
But the inspector general says these items were never on the market to be rented. The report concluded Lowe violated the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s standard practices when the artifacts were shipped to Texas.
Beck recorded his handling of the items — fully aware of the rarity of having them in his possession.
“This collection was not in public view,” Beck was recorded saying.
And the museum has noted the address needs special attention such as room temperature and more, saying in a video:
“It is very susceptible to light. We want this document to stay around for generations.”
The report found Lowe overstepped his powers, and it’s believed he loaned the artifacts to help with outstanding debt the museum has.
Besides renting the artifacts, the report also shows Lowe and his chief operating officer allowed Beck’s organization to pay for his travel to Texas.
That’s a violation of state policy.