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Julia Ward Howe House


Julia Ward Howe House Julia Ward Howe House
Photograph by Robert C. Post.
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Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), abolitionist


The Howe House was home to humanitarians and abolitionists Julia Ward Howe and Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876) during an extremely exciting period in their lives, 1863-1866. The house, a four-story brick row house with Georgian elements, is one of three adjoining “Swan Houses” built by a wealthy widow for her daughters. In 1863, while in Washington, D.C., with her husband, a prominent director of the newly named Perkins Institution for the Blind, Julia Ward Howe composed a poem to the cadence of “John Brown’s Body” and called it the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Reportedly, the poem's moving words caused Abraham Lincoln to cry and subsequently brought Julia Ward Howe immense recognition. Before writing the poem, Howe was active as an abolitionist. Later, after seeing the goals of the abolitionist movement fulfilled, she took up the cause of women’s suffrage. Throughout their stormy marriage, Julia and her husband made contributions to many humanitarian causes. It was said of Julia Ward Howe that in the last third of the 19th century, “no movement or ‘cause’ in which women were interested, from suffrage, to pure milk for babies, could be launched without her.” Howe was the first president of the New England Women Suffrage Association, a pivotal figure in the Branch of the Women’s Suffrage Association and the first president of the American Branch of the Women’s International Peace Association, peace being a cause to which she devoted the bulk of her attention for many years. Two of Julia’s daughters, Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards and Maude Howe Elliott enjoyed prominence as authors and activists. Julia Ward Howe is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.

The Samuel Gridley and Julia Ward Howe House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 13 Chestnut St. in Boston, MA. The property is a private residence and not open to the public.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST