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04
Mar-2019

Julia Ward Howe

Portrait doll of Julia Ward Howe, ca. 1900, by Carnig Eksergian (Armenian), gift of Mary Osgood and Elizabeth McMahon Donoghue.

Howe sat for the portrait doll at age 87. She was an abolitionist and a suffragette, and this portrait was sculpted 20 years *before* American women won the right to vote, and 35 years *after* the formal end of slavery in America. The dress was made from a dress in her own wardrobe; it is lavender because purple and yellow were the colors of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The yellow scarf that reads “EQUALITY” and “JUSTICE” did not personally belong to Howe, but it was worn by a woman who marched for the right to vote.

Howe is among the most distinguished 19th century American poets, lecturers, and activists. Although she did not live to see her dream of women’s suffrage come true, she did see the end of the horror of slavery, and after the war she continued the fight to end racism; unfortunately that fight must continue.

As a poet, Howe is best known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” aka “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” She wrote the poem in 1861 and published it for the first time in “The Atlantic Monthly” in November of that year, seven months after the Civil War began. The poem was set to music and became a rallying cry for the Union throughout the war.

Battle-Hymn of the Republic
by Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fatal lightning of his terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps.
His Day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment-seat:
Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

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