Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” was a pioneer in literature and women’s rights.
As a writer, poet, reformer, and lecturer, Howe worked throughout her life for justice. In 1861, she authored “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as an inspiration to Union soldiers fighting against slavery.
More importantly, she helped found the New England Women’s Club, which later became the American Woman Suffrage Association. Throughout the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Howe lectured and wrote on women’s rights. She fought for the right to vote and to liberate women from the confinement of the traditional “woman’s place” in stifling marriages like her own, where none of her ideas were ever valued. She also worked for world peace, founding the American Friends of Russian Freedom in 1891 and serving as a president of the United Friends of Armenia in 1894.
In 1907, Howe became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. As stated in her citation for an honorary Smith College degree, she was a “Poet and patriot, lover of letters and learning‚ a sincere friend of all that makes for the elevation and enrichment of women.”