julia w. howe

Julia Ward Howe


Julia Ward Howe (May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910) was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet most famous as the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."


Early life and family

Born Julia Ward in New York City, she was the fourth of seven children born to Samuel Ward (1786 – 1839) and Julia Rush Cutler. Her father was a well-to-do banker. Her mother died when she was five. When she was young she learned many languages such as Italian.

Her paternal grandparents were Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward (May 1, 1756 – November 27, 1839) of the Continental Army and Phoebe Greene. Her maternal grandparents were Benjamin Clarke and Sarah Mitchell Cutler.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward was a son of Samuel Ward, a colonial Governor of Rhode Island and later a delegate to the Continental Congress, and his wife Anna Ray. Phoebe Greene was a daughter of William Greene, Governor of Rhode Island and his wife Catharine Ray.

Marriage and children

In 1843 she married a hero of the Greek revolution, physician Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe nicknamed Chev, who founded the Perkins Institute for the Blind. The couple made their home in South Boston, had six children (five of whom lived to adulthood), and were active in the Free Soil Party. She was a member of the Unitarian church.

Social activism

Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", set to William Steffe's already-existing music, was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.

In 1870 Howe was the first to proclaim Mother's Day, with her Mother's Day Proclamation.

After the war Howe focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women's suffrage. From 1872 to 1879, she assisted Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell in editing ''Woman's Journal


Howe died on October 17, 1910, at her home, Oak Glen, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, at the age of 91. Her death was caused by pneumonia. She is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


On January 28, 1908, Howe became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Howe was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

She was featured on a 14 cent US stamp issued in 1987.


Works and collections

  • The Hermaphrodite. Incomplete, but probably composed between 1846 and 1847. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.
  • Passion-Flowers. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854.
  • Words for the Hour. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1857.
  • From Sunset Ridge; Poems Old and New]]. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin & Co. 1898
  • Later Lyrics. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: J. E. Tilton & company, 1866.
  • At Sunset. Poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1910.
  • Sex and education: a reply to Dr. E.H. Clarke's "Sex in education." Boston: Roberts Bros., 1874.
  • Woman's work in America. New York: N. Holt and Co., 1891
  • Reminiscences: 1819–1899. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1899.
  • Julia Ward Howe and the woman suffrage movement: a selection from her speeches and essays. Boston. D. Estes, 1913.

See also

Further reading

  • Representative women of New England. Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904.
  • Richards, Laura Elizabeth. Julia Ward Howe, 1819–1910. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916. 2 vol.
  • Clifford, Deborah Pickman. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Biography of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978.
  • Wlliams, Gary. Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe. Amherst: U Massachusetts P, 1999.


External links

Works and papers




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