In 1861, South Boston resident Julia Ward Howe – the wife of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind – wrote the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the request of President Abraham Lincoln. Originally published as a poem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic was written after Howe visited a Union Army Camp during the Civil War. It was published in February, 1862.
The poem’s verses replaced the ones of John Brown’s Body, a song sung by Union soldiers. Howes new verses were more uplifting than the original words of John Brown’s Body and became the unofficial anthem of Union soldiers as well as a great American patriotic anthem.
Later in life, Howe went on to be a women’s suffragist and served as the first president of the New England Women’s Club. She lived until she was 91 years old.
Julia Ward Howe
May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910