Josephine Henry to Laura Clay, Jan. 19th [18]99, Laura Clay Papers, Box 6, folder 19, University of Kentucky Special Collections and Research Center

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Title: Letter from Josephine Henry to Laura Clay, Jan. 19th [18]99

Repository: 46m4: Laura Clay Papers, Box 6, folder 19, University of Kentucky Special Collections and Research Center, Lexington, KY

The letter is transcribed below - it is a response from Josephine Henry to her former lobbying compatriot Laura Clay after two major conflicts had taken place. First of all, Henry's work on the second part of The Woman's Bible had been criticized not only by the National American Woman Suffrage Association but also by the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. Nevertheless, the KERA Executive Committee sent a message to Henry on December 1, 1898, about whether or not she would accept taking on the role again as Superintendent of Legislative Work if KERA was going to continue lobbying for school (partial) suffrage. Mary Barr Clay told the December 1898 KERA Convention attendees of having receiving a letter from Josephine Henry "stating that she believed that piece-meal suffrage was a grave mistake." So, during the convention while the nomination for Josephine Henry was on the floor, Mary Barr Clay telephoned her to find out "if under the circumstances, she was willing to accept the position, if elected." They couldn't reach her, so the alternative - Mrs. Margaret A. Watts of Louisville - was elected instead. The minutes from the convention showed that Henry called Clay afterward to say she did not want to continue her lobbying work for KERA and refused the nomination.


Versailles, Ky  Jan. 19th [18]99

My Dear Miss Laura,

Your letter of the 17th was read with a great deal of pleasure, as I had not heard from you for so long. I am sorry you thought for a moment that I was offended at the action of the Convention. I am not made of that kind of stuff. Although last year I sent my resignation and gave the convention the opportunity to get rid of me gracefully and they did not do it, but rather ejected me because I was an undesirable member. I have nothing but the kindest feeling for every member mixed I must say with a little double distilled compassion for narrowness and bigotry exhibited, but be that as it may - every member of the Ass-n has my best feeling and wishes and as for yourself and Miss Mary you have both my love and deepest gratitude for the spendid service you have rendered the women of the earth, for your conviction and courage was the fountain that awakened the spirit of liberty in our section. Why should difference of opinion shatter friendships? Attrition of minds has evolved the race to what it is. All cannot see or think alike. You may think the Bible God's holy word, constructive, elevating and consoling and the charter of liberty, while I think with its cruelty and debauchery, its contraditions and absurdities, its nonsense and false reasoning, its lustfulness, polygamy, slavery, intemperance, cannibalism, murder, robbery, ruin, war and the curse upon women, it is the worst of all books, but why should that mar friendship? I concede your perfect right to any opinions, and I respect your conviction, but I claim equal right and sincerity. We may neither be right, but we are going by the light we have, I live and labor for better conditions for my sex and for the race. The sorrows, sufferings and injustice in our Christian civilization rends my heart day by day - so I do as I must, and extend both love and greeting to all who are working for better things.

I today received an invitation from Nat. Program Comm. to give an address at the Grand Rapids Con. [of the NAWSA] I shall certainly call and see you all when I go to Lexington and will be delighted to have you all visit me at any time. I am so busy these days that I rarely have time. Give my best love to your dear Mother and Miss Mary and accept more than I can write for yourself - Ever your grateful friend.

Josephine K. Henry