Julia Ward Howe’s “Cultivation of the Mind”

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 Julia Ward Howe (b. May 27, 1819; d. Oct. 17, 1910) got the usual blogosphere attention around Mother’s Day — lots of “Arise, then, women of this day!”  and Battle-Hymn-of-the-Republic-as peace-movement, etc.   Howe articulated a special role for women in peacemaking in her 1870 Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World:

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.  

Howe also was active in the anti-slavery and woman suffrage movements.   In Private Woman, Public Person, a 1994 biography of Howe, historian Mary Grant tracks Howe’s intellectual development.   According to this 1996 book review from the Journal of American History:

[Her husband] tormented Julia about household management, restricted her in public, mishandled her estate, used the threat of divorce and separation from her children as leverage to force sexual intimacy, and proved, through it all, to have been unfaithful.   Plagued by nervous disorders, Julia sometimes found herself at the edge of sanity.   She survived by maintaining other attachments, by cultivating her mind, and by writing . . . .

To see Howe’s public accomplishments – her turn to abolitionism after John Brown’s execution, her decision to become a lecturer, and her later commitment to woman suffrage – in light of her intellectual and spiritual growth at midlife . . . and in the shadow of her troubled marriage, is to enrich and complicate the outlines of her life.

-Bridget Crawford  

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0 Responses to Julia Ward Howe’s “Cultivation of the Mind”

  1. bob coley jr says:

    though there are many great lessons here, the one that comes to the forefront, to me anyway, is to keep trying no matter how insurmountable the chalenge may seem. Of course, love helps.