Born on this day in New York City, poet and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) made history by writing the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic after visiting a Union camp in Virginia.
"As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,” she wrote with religious conviction. Published in 1862 by the Atlantic Monthly, then put to the tune of John Brown's Body, the uplifting anthem inspired the North to win the American Civil War and free the slaves.
When Abraham Lincoln heard it sung after the Battle of Gettysburg, he said tearfully "Sing it again!"
"The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness," she said.
In addition to writing a biography of Margaret Fuller (1883), Howe also wrote poetry. Her first volume, the controversial Passion-flowers (1854), and subsequent, Words for the Hour (1857), were published anonymously because of their daring look at women's rights.
"Arise then, women of this day," said Howe who was a leader in the suffrage movement and advocate for world peace. A transcendentalist and popular public speaker who dedicated her life to public activism, in 1908 she became the first female member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.
She passionately believed: "Every life has its actual blanks, which the ideal must fill up, or which else remain bare and profitless forever."
Truth is marching on...