Reproduction of a manuscript document by Howe. Original held by Boston Public Library, Rare Books Department.
Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic, written as an abolitionist poem, became very popular during the Civil War. After visiting a Union army camp near Washington, DC, in 1861, she was inspired by soldiers singing lyrics to a camp song that originated as a parody of John Brown, a soldier at Boston's Fort Warren and John Brown, the abolitionist. Howe's poem, which easily fit the same tune, was first published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. Displayed here are the original lyrics that she recopied in 1901.
Along with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe, Julia Ward was active in the anti-slavery movement. Together they edited the abolitionist newspaper, The Commonwealth. Her husband was the director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, then located in South Boston.