Joan Hoff is currently a research professor of history at Montana State University. She is a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, a former executive director of the OAH, and a former director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. An occasional media commentator on the presidency, she is the author of A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush (2007), The Cooper's Wife is Missing: The Trials of Bridget Cleary (2000), Nixon Reconsidered (1994), Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women (2nd edition, 1994), and Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (reissued, 1992), among other works.
Rankin’s rhetorical abilities and her visible hard work on behalf of peace in the 1920s and 1930s and later against the Vietnam war have been much praised and written about. But the fact remains those activities came to naught. This is her invisible legacy that we seldom discuss, but we should because it is also our legacy. If we look at what the American peace movement has accomplished since her death in 1973 it is obvious that pacifism--at least the kind that Rankin lobbied for, voted for, and marched for--has not succeeded in the United States.Rankin’s visible legacy should not be forgotten, but it should always be remembered along with her invisible one.