Josephine A. Pearson, leader of the anti-suffrage movement in Tennessee during the 1920 fight for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, was born in Gallatin. Pearson grew up in McMinnville, where she graduated from Irving College in 1890. She received her master’s degree in 1896 from Cumberland College and held several teaching and administrative positions across the state. In 1895 she was appointed as a commissioner to the Woman’s Board of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Pearson in the early twentieth century participated in the organization of the Dixie Highway Council of the Cumberland Divide. As president of its women’s auxiliary, Pearson lobbied for federal funds to be used for the building of the highway.
Pearson received her greatest recognition as president of and speaker for the Tennessee State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage and the Southern Woman’s League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. When Governor Albert Roberts called a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly to ratify the amendment in 1920, Pearson came to Nashville and worked actively during July and August to defeat the amendment. Pearson established her headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel and lobbied legislators to vote against ratification.
When the amendment was ratified, Pearson accepted the deanship of the Southern Seminary of Virginia where she also taught history and philosophy. Pearson lectured throughout the South and wrote numerous articles and books until her death in 1944. She is buried in the Monteagle Cemetery.