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Julia Ward Howe Biography | Poet

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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."


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 paternal grandparents were Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ward (May 1, 1756 - November 27, 1839) of the Continental Army and Phoebe Green. 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 as a delegate to the Continental Congress, and his wife Anna Ray. Phoebe Green was a daughter of William Greene, Governor of Rhode Island and his wife Catharine Ray.

Marriage and later life

In 1843 she married a hero of the Greek revolution, physician Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe 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.

Howe's "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 for the Union during the American Civil War.

After the war she focused her activities on the causes of Pacifism and women's suffrage. She was a member of the Unitarian church.

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

On January 28, 1908 Julia Ward Howe became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Julia Ward Howe is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Julia Ward Howe was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1970.

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