‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ words still speak to the nation today

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) is the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which includes some of the most inspirational words ever written. (Bettmann Archive)
  • Meet the American who wrote ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’
  • Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) gave the United States — and the world — some of the most inspirational words ever written.
  • She penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in November 1861, during a wartime tour of Washington, D.C., as Americans realized with gloom that the seven-month-old Civil War would be longer, darker and deadlier than anticipated.
  • The words tell the biblically heroic story of Union soldiers marching to their death in the name of Christ to vanquish slavery:
    • As he died to make men holy
    • Let us die to make men free
    • His truth is marching on
  • Their sacrifice freed 4 million Americans from bondage
  • The famous second line — “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored” — is a plea for divine justice inspired by the Book of Revelation.
  • “In times of danger and thanksgiving, ‘The Battle Hymn’ is now, as it was in the [1860s], the fitting vehicle of the national feeling,” Howe’s daughter, Florence Howe Hall, wrote in her 1916 book, “The Story of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
  • After 9/11, the nation instinctively rallied around “The Battle Hymn” in churches and in public performances, proving that the song speaks to the spirit of the American people through the ages.

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