A debutant, from the cream of Baltimore society, the eminent Jean Baker got her PhD at John Hopkins, a honorary Ivy League College, from David Donald, a challenging job for even the best of intellectuals. She then acquired tenure from Gaucher College, an honorary member of the Seven Sisters. For me however her most amazing intellecual feat was the introduction she wrote for C A Tripp's THe Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. Although David, inexperienced as he with sex, presumably a Kinsey zero, that is one never having had a single homosexual experience, continues to this day to deny that any president was ever curious enough to try it even once with other male. I have no reason to believe that Jean ever had a homosexual experience. But I have speculated that in writing her masterpiece about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, about him she undoutedly knows more than any other living soul, she was perplexed as to why the marriage had worked out so badly. Once she read Tripp's manuscript, proving as it did by a preponderance of evidence that Lincoln ha had homosexual experiences, and don't forget that Tripp was not only a close friend an associate of Kinsey but advanced beyond Kinsey in his best-selling masterpiece, The Homosexual Matrix, understood a lot more than her eminent mentor, Donald did about Lincoln's sexuality. Thus she supported the thesis at risk to her own career, as did another student of Donald's my colleague and good friend Michal Chesson. In short, although she failed to recognise Honest Abe's homosexual activities before she published her exquisite biography of Lincoln's wife, she could perceive the accuracy of Tripp's theory and dared to endorse it.
Below is a brief desciption of some of Jean's other biographies about women who flourished in the middle period of American history.
Baker is still at Goucher College. She recently published five interconnected critical biographical essays on Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul. Baker's effortless blending of personal narrative with political and historical analysis—a technique she perfected in her groundbreaking 1987 Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography—works to great effect, not only vividly brings these women to life but explicating the complicated social and political framework in which they existed. Baker noted the highly respectable Stanton's friendship with notorious free-lover Victoria Woodhull.
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