Today in History:

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe, a prominent American author, poet, and activist, is best known for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," but her involvement in the American Civil War extended far beyond this contribution.  

Howe volunteered as a nurse, providing care and support to wounded soldiers in Union hospitals. Her experiences on the front lines of the war deeply impacted her, and she became a vocal advocate for the rights of soldiers and veterans.

During the Civil War, Howe became deeply engaged in the Union cause and used her writing talents to support the Union effort. In November 1861, she visited a Union Army camp near Washington, D.C., where she witnessed the troops marching to the tune of "John Brown's Body." Inspired by what she saw, Howe penned the lyrics to what would become one of the most enduring patriotic songs of the Civil War, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Set to the tune of "John Brown's Body," the song quickly gained popularity among Union soldiers and became an anthem for the Union cause.  You can listen to the tune and read more about the history of "John Brown's Body" courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In addition to her humanitarian and literary efforts, Howe was also a staunch abolitionist and women's rights advocate. She used her platform to speak out against slavery and to advocate for the rights and freedoms of all Americans, regardless of race or gender. In 1868, she founded the New England Woman Suffrage Association, further solidifying her commitment to women's rights and suffrage.

After the Civil War, Howe continued to be actively involved in social and political causes. She remained a prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement and played a key role in organizing the first National Woman's Rights Convention in 1869. Throughout her life, Howe remained dedicated to using her voice and talents to advocate for justice, equality, and social change.