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Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe (May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910) was a prominent Americanmarker 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 Citymarker, she was the fourth of seven children born to Samuel Ward (May 1, 1786 – November 27, 1839) and Julia Rush Cutler. Among her siblings was Samuel Cutler Ward. Her father was a well-to-do banker. Her mother died when she was five. When she was young she learned many languages: Italian, French, German, and Greek.

Her paternal grandparents were Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward (November 17, 1756 – August 16, 1832) of the Continental Army and Phoebe Greene (died October 11, 1828). Her maternal grandparents were Benjamin Clarke and Sarah Mitchell Cutler.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward was a son of Samuel Ward (May 27, 1725 – March 26, 1776), a colonial Governor of Rhode Islandmarker and later a delegate to the Continental Congress, and his wife Anna Ray (died December 3, 1770). Phoebe Greene was a daughter of William Greene (August 16, 1731 – November 30, 1809), 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 Blindmarker. The couple made their home in South Boston and were active in the Free Soil Party. She was a member of the Unitarian church. The Howes had five children who lived to adulthood: Julia Romana Anagnos, Florence Howe Hall, Henry Marion Howe, Laura E. Richards, Maud Howe Elliott. Her sixth and youngest child, Samuel Gridley Howe, Jr., died at age 3 from diphtheria.

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.

From 1891 to 1909 she was interested in the cause of Russian freedom. Howe supported Russian emigre Stepniak-Kravchinskii and became the member of the Society of American Friends of Russian Freedom (SAFRF).


Howe in her later years
Howe died on October 17, 1910, at her home, Oak Glenmarker, in Portsmouth, Rhode Islandmarker, at the age of 91. Her death was caused by pneumonia. She is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemeterymarker in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker.


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 15 cent US stamp issued in 1987.

The Julia Ward Howe School of Excellence in Chicago's Austin community is named in her honor.

Her home in Rhode Island, Oak Glenmarker, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.


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.
    • 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.


  1. Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 71. ISBN 0195031865

External links

Works and papers




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