Everything sounded cool at last week's meeting of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum board, where members jawed about stuff that is the purview of museum boards, with barely a hint of discord. Within an hour or so of adjournment, though, word hit that Samuel Wheeler, state historian and big cheese when it comes to matters of history, had been fired. Among other things, Wheeler is in charge of shepherding efforts to prove or disprove that a tattered but expensive stovepipe hat actually belonged to Lincoln. At least one board member, Kathryn Harris, says she found out through unofficial sources that Wheeler had been canned. Harold Holzer, an author who is one of the nation's leading experts on Lincoln, says Wheeler was an asset. "I think his departure is a great loss for the ALPLM and for the state of Illinois," he said. "No museum can sustain its professional reputation without representing the curatorial voice." Wheeler was a pro, according to Holzer. "It seems to me that Sam is almost like the Dr. Fauci of the ALPLM," he said. "He speaks what his professionalism tells him is the truth." Wheeler could not be reached for comment.

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