|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Robert Underwood Johnson (January 12, 1853 – October 14, 1937)
The son of Nimrod Hoge and Katharin (Catherine Coyle Underwood) Johnson, Robert was born in Washington, D. C. His parents moved to Indiana when he was young, where he spent the bulk of his boyhood. After graduating from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, Robert got a job as clerk for Scribner Educational Books in Chicago. By the time he was twenty he had been promoted the Scribner's Monthly, which later became The Century Magazine. He became associate editor of that magazine and later the editor, until 1913.
He wrote the four volume series, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War and several volumes of poetry. Many considered him the unofficial poet laureate of the United States. His activity with literary organizations included a stint as secretary for the American Copyright League.
Underwood also became active in the National Park movement. He and naturalist John Muir became friends and went on a camping trip together. He encouraged John Muir to write conservation articles, which he published in Century Magazine. The articles were influential in the government establishing Yosemite National Park and his appeals to President Theodore Roosevelt led to the White House conferences on conservation.
During his lifetime, he became friends with Theodore Roosevelt, John Burroughs, Nikola Tesla, Mark Twain, and Rudyard Kipling. His brother, Henry, served as a congressman and later Senator from Indiana.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning