a1 Goucher College
My title is a gloss from Everett Dirksen, the long-time, now-deceased U.S. senator from Illinois who encouraged his party “to get right with Abraham Lincoln.” As Republicans drifted away from acknowledging their partisan connection to the sixteenth president, Dirksen appreciated how Lincoln could serve as an invigorating, unifying theme for Republicans in the post-Civil Rights Era. The analogy, of course, is that suffrage history has been similarly marginalized, submerged even within the limited space given to women's history by attention to Progressive Era associations and service groups such as the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the PTA, women's literary clubs, as well as the settlement house movement and the Women's National Republican Club.
Jean H. Baker is Professor of history at Goucher College, where she has taught since 1970. Her recent books include Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists, published by Hill and Wang in 2005, and James Buchanan, published in Times Books' American Presidents series in 2004. Her essay in this issue is adapted from her Distinguished Historian address to the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era during the Organization of American Historians meeting in San Jose, April 2005.