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Blue-grass blade. [volume] (Lexington, Ky.) 188?-19??, February 23, 1908, Image 2

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069867/1908-02-23/ed-1/seq-2/

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O + O N N N N N N N N N H N H N H H N H H H N H N N H N H N H N M
y y
By Harriet M Closz
The Editor has kindly requested me to
write a sketch of Josephine K Henry but
when I think of the wraith of work accom
plished by her I am overwhelmed with the
thought of not what to write but what not
to write
Womans Progress devotes 3000 words to
Mrs Henry as a representative woman and
yet does her scant justice Volumes have
been written vaunting the life of men whose
work is less valuable than hers for platitudes
flow easily from the pen for one who labors
with the popular throng but expressions of
appreciation are piteously scarce for the
pioneer in unpopular work and the flag of
crimson flames on my face at tho tearcom
pelling thought that my sisterwomen for
i whom she has toiled have silently if not in
solently accepted the sacrifices made for them
Josephine Williamson seems to have been
the Southern incarnation of Destiny Born
in Newport Ky her father a Virginian her
mother Mary Kirby of Leeds England she
was reared in the home atmosphere of cul
tured accomplishments and independent
thought yet with the community surround
ings of conventional conservatism and the
latter naturally furnished the irritant of un
just restraint which developed our beloved
comrade into the superb selfreliant champion
of the oppressed
During her early years while storing the
mind with practical facts she did not neglect
tho aesthetic for in addition to perfecting
herself in instrumental 1111ocal music she
did creditable work as a composer I may
nl o Jiicntioii ii this connection that she
possesses the poetical spirit and during these
later years she has paid tribute to our time
in rhymes that sear and shame our system
but she declared that sentiment is a wasted
energy when dealing with tho desperately
demoniac conditions about us
In March 1808 Josephine Williamson was
married to Captian William Henryof Ver
sailles Ky Here she has since resided and
here about a year ago Captain Henry died
Grief has been an ofttimo guest in the
heart of Mrs Henry in 1801 the only son
23 years of age was cruelly crushed to death
in a railroad wreck at Crete Illinois and
times and yet she finds leisure to sympa
thize with the actors in the great tragedy of
Life which is so often too intensely bitter
for tears As a field reformer Josephine K
Henry stands supreme alone Other women
have courageously grappled single lines of
work and gained much and deserve credit
but property privilege social inequality
f I i C
political intrigue the disgraces of intem
perance the horrors of superstition the ter
rors of the domestic dogmas which have made
possible the economic dependence and sex en
slavement of womenall have been assailed
by our sister until the mountains of misery
are beginning to diminish
For over 20 years this indefatigable worker
has been active in the political arena and
with the aim always of securing consideration
and a measure of justice for lull suffering
sisters Her six years fight in tine Kentucky
legislature to secure equal property rights
for women was perhaps her severest strug
gle She wrote hundreds of articles for the
press on property rights and the state was
deluged with literature on the subject Twen
ty thousand copies of one pamphlet alone be
ing distributed She spoke throughout the
state and at every session of the Legislature
for six long years It was a weary work but
after seeing much of her private fortune
melt away for the cause she championed she
was at last victorious and Kentucky women
today enjoy equal property right with men
through her effort
We are told that mans inhumanity to
man makes countless thousands mourn but
womens ingratitude to women furnishes a
full parallel for years after when the writer
became acquainted with Mrs Henry and ex
pressed appreciation of her work she said
You are the first woman who hM said a
word of commendation
For a number of years Mrs Henry was
auditor for the National rom ens suffrage
Association and spoke at the annual con
ventions in Washington D C Atlanta Ga
Grand Rapids Mich and many other places
She also served as Superintendent of Legis
lative and petition work for the Kentucky
Womens Suffrage Association
Eighteen years ago Josephine K Henry was
the candidate party for clerk of the Supreme
Court of her State In this campaign she
was the first woman in the South to run
for a State office A few years later the
canto party nominated her for Superinten
dent of Public Instruction and later in the
Reason tho State PopulistJ Convention pro
ferred the same position on their ticket which
was a unique compliment
Again she traversed the State making
hundreds of speeches and we find her always
in progressive paths always moving onward
and inwny from the outworn anal sot called
sacred precedents toward tho humane act
uality of equal rights to all special priv
ileges to none
The climax of her political career was
IIlillli i 0r
reached when she was named as a possibility
for president of the United States and the
great dailies of tho country consumed not
only columns but pages in interviews and to
the reproduction and discussion of the many
creditable and concise recommendations by her
for legislative procedure i
Mrs Henrys political work has been
less than superb and her achievements stu
penduous and while th3 work has been un
usual for a woman it entailed no actual i
But harken to the howl of execration
that arose when this pioneer for principle
advanced still another step and attacked the
mighty monster the religious superstition
The former not of affable toleration was drop
ped from discussion and when her javelin
tipped with reasons point reached Jehovahs
vital a cry ascended from pulpit and people
and press which drowned every plaudit that
preceded it
In seeking to secure equitable laws for
hen sisters the champion of freedom had
discover that the subjection of Christian
women throughout tho centuries and their
present degradation and economic dependence
is due to Bible mandates and the adminis
tration of its precept by the Priesthood and j
though reviled by former iriends and ana
thematized by religionists she calmly pursued
the policy of exposing the inconsistencies and
injustice of our Christian system
In expressing herself on this point Mrs
Henry says I pride myself more in my A
Frecthought work than all else I have tried
to do And she has accomplished much
Speaking at National and State Conventions
contributing to the numerous Freethought
publications in the United States Canada anda
England Her name appended to an article
decides the editor as to its worth Sire is
the only woman who appears in Facts Worth
Knowing a pamphlet which has reached a
circulation of 200000 Her contribution in
Elizabeth Cady Stantons innovation Tho
Womans Bible was highly commended by Mrs
Stanton who coincided with her estimate of
Bible responsibility for wrong
of Editor Charles C Moore during his per
secution by tho uncompromising Christian
enthusiasts and also a substantial supporter
of the Blue Grass Blade and for many years
almost a constant contributorit
For propaganda work this prolific writer
has had published the pamphletsProperty
Rights of Kentucky Women Women and +
Christianity Woman and the Bible and
Marriage and Divorce all of which should be
read and studied by credulous Christians
Mrs Henry has held office in the various <
Free Thought organizations and is now Pres 1
ident of the American Freethought Asso
ciation Nor the least of her work as a
Continued on page 15
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