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Did The Atlantic Rip-off Julia Ward Howe?

Illustration for article titled Did iThe Atlantic/i Rip-off Julia Ward Howe?

In an essay, Mark Steyn traces "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" from its origins as a Methodist camp-meeting song with one line to the Boston Light Infantry with a different lyric, to the song by poet Julia Ward Howe, on to Judy Garland singing it to honor JFK.


In the relatively short read, Steyn — who apparently subs for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity according to his bio — says the song was composed in response to a national anthem contest with a $500 prize and that Ms. Howe's work was published in the Atlantic Monthly, who paid her four dollars. He doesn't say whether the magazine kept the rest or if it was paid out and I'm not seeing an answer with a quick glance at her Wikipedia or any of its links.

As he concludes, Judy Garland's performance was powerful, as is Johnny Cash's, Whitney Houston's or most everyone else who have ever sang the song, including myself many years ago, when I'd sometimes sing it while marching home from a bar.


In light of the day and considering the song's usage, here's the U.S. Army Chorus.

(h/t Kurt Loder; Image via Biography.com)

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