Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: a Tale of Three Bicentennials

Although she wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” words that are better known around the world than anything by her contemporaries Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, Howe has moved to the margins of literary history. Out of her poetry, the “Battle Hymn” is the only lyric that has outlived its author. But Howe was famous for much more than her writing. After the Civil War, she assessed and abandoned her poetic ambitions to become a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, an advocate for world peace, and a tireless worker for human rights. By the time she died, in 1910, she was far more famous in the US and internationally, and more widely and publicly mourned, than either of the two men. 

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