Author: Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe, c. 1908

A prominent abolitionist and social activist, Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910) is the author of the song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” While witnessing a review of Union troops in Washington, D.C., Howe heard the Union army marching song “John Brown’s Body” set to a tune written by William Steffe (1830–90). The stirring tune inspired her to write new lyrics, which came to her in the middle of the night. The song, with Howe’s lyrics, became popular in the Union during the rest of the Civil War and after. Howe died at her home in Rhode Island at the age of 91.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julia Ward Howe

Why does this partisan battle hymn of the Civil War become a unifying national favorite? Read abolitionist Julia Ward Howe’s poem and assess its interpretation of the Civil War.

Crown His Blood-Stained Pillow

Julia Ward Howe
Noted abolitionist and social activist Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910) met Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC in November 1861. The meeting inspired her to write one of the most popular Union songs of the Civil War, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After Lincoln’s assassination, Howe turned to the sorrowful task of mourning the dead president with this somber poem, first published in 1865.