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Helen Kendrick Johnson

Dates: January 4, 1844 - January 3, 1917

Born and raised in upstate New York, Helen Kendrick Johnson was educated mostly by her father, a professor of Greek at the University of Rochester.

After marrying Rossiter Johnson, a newspaper editor, she began writing children's stories and travel articles. She later published collections of quotations, essays, and in 1908, Mythology and Folk-Lore of the North American Indian.

Helen Kendrick Johnson and her husband were both active in the anti-suffrage movement. Rossiter Johnson was author of the pamphlet, "Why Women Do Not Want the Ballot," and Helen Kendrick Johnson, in 1897, wrote what is often considered the best summary of the arguments against woman suffrage: Woman and the Republic.

In Woman and the Republic Helen Johnson responded to the common arguments for woman suffrage. She used statistics and anecdotes to demonstrate that women didn't need the vote in order to establish more legal, economic and other equality. She also argued that women's role in her separate, domestic sphere, was essential for maintenance of the American republic.

She was especially critical of the then-current publication by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others, The Woman's Bible. She linked most of the pro-suffrage campaign to radical equality claims and to "socialism."

The Johnsons lived in Rochester, New York, when they were first married. Later, his work took them to Concord, New Hampshire and finally to New York City.

Helen Kendrick Johnson was a founder of the anti-suffrage Guidon Club (1910) and was a volunteer at the Henry Street Settlement House in New York City, founded by Lillian Wald (other volunteers included Florence Kelley and Eleanor Roosevelt). She continued to contribute articles to newspapers and magazines and other publications.

Helen Kendrick Johnson on the Web

Helen Kendrick Johnson on this site

  • Woman and the Republic
    Helen Kendrick Johnson's anti-suffrage book, summarizing not only most of the arguments for and against suffrage, but including many details of legal battles, state-by-state attempts to establish woman suffrage, women's employment statistics, etc.

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