Julia Ward Howe is renowned as the poet who woke up one night in an inspired state to pen the lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the song that would become the victorious psalm of the Civil War.

But what few know is that the writer, reformer and mother of six who wrote those stirring words – "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" – was adrift in a lonely war of her own, against a husband who sought to control every aspect of her life, from what she wrote to what she ate.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, pictured here 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e41ELr

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington historian Margaret O'Mara about mud slinging and crudeness in American politics.

After Donald Trump defended the size of his penis during a Republican primary debate, some people asked, have we hit a new low? According to O'Mara, the answer is no. Things like this have been happening for centuries.

And often, the vulgarity is a smoke screen that distracts from the real issues, O'Mara said. 

In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a vote of 8 to 1, to uphold a state's right to forcibly sterilize a person considered unfit to procreate. The case, known as Buck v. Bell, centered on a young woman named Carrie Buck, whom the state of Virginia had deemed to be "feebleminded."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for president in 2016.
Flickr Photo/Brookings Institution (CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington historian Margaret O'Mara  about how Bernie Sanders' campaign reminds her of Henry Wallace, Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice president who lost to Harry Truman  in the 1948 Democratic primary. O'Mara is the author of the book, "Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections That Shaped the Twentieth Century."

Will America Fall Like Rome?

Mar 1, 2016
Rome sunset.
Flickr Photo/Guillermo Alonso (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/rbftP1

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington classics professor Sarah Stroup about her view that America is becoming more xenophobic and how we seem to be paralleling Ancient Rome.  

Marshall Islanders gather at the Burke Museum in Seattle to mark the anniversary of the droping of a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in 1954.
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

On March 1, 1954, the United States dropped a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. In the years since, Marshall Islanders, or Marshallese, have marked the anniversary as a national holiday and a day of mourning. Producer Posey Gruener went to the Burke Museum in Seattle to speak to some Marshallese who gathered to mark the occasion.

The U.S.S. Bear, a cutter that was dispatched by President McKinley to rescue the Belvedere and other ice-bound whaling ships. The Bear wasn’t able to break through the ice to Point Barrow until July 28, 1898. Today, there is no ice.
U.S. Library of Congress

Audio Pending...

When the steamship Belvedere left San Francisco in the spring of 1897, its crew members couldn’t have known what a treacherous voyage awaited them.

Tony Johnson of the Chinook Tribe is fluent in Chinook Wawa. He stands at Chinook Point near the mouth of the Columbia, a key spot for the fur trade 200 years ago where strangers met and needed a common language.
KUOW Photo/Dwight Caswell

Chinook Jargon was a trade language that once ruled the Northwest. But when was it used, and how many people spoke it? Listener Michelle LeSourd of Seattle asked KUOW's Local Wonder. 

More Hall Annex on UW campus. The building is an example of brutalism architecture.
Courtesy of Washington Trust for Historic Preservation/Jennifer Mortensen

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Chris Moore from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation about the recent decision by the University of Washington's Board of Regents to replace More Hall Annex, a historic nuclear reactor on campus, with a new computer science building.

Moore is involved with an effort to add More Hall to Seattle's list of historic places, which could save it from demolition. The University of Washington has sued the city to stop that effort. A ruling is expected April 1.

The history of science is full of happy accidents — most folks have heard that penicillin was discovered in 1928, when a few mold spores landed on some neglected petri dishes in a London lab. But sometimes serendipity's role is a bit less ... mainstream.

After centuries of neglect, the world's largest fortification, the Great Wall of China, has a band of modern-day defenders who are drawing up plans to protect and maintain the vast structure.

They're not a minute too soon: Roughly a third of the wall's 12,000 miles has crumbled to dust, and saving what's left of it may be the world's greatest challenge in cultural preservation.

Qiao Guohua is on the front line of this battle. He lives in the village of Jielingkou, not far from where the eastern end of the Great Wall runs into the Yellow Sea.

chocolate lw
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Listener Beth Ann Johnson asked Local Wonder about Seattle's chocolate industry, and reporter Ruby de Luna agreed to report. (We know. Tough assignment.)

Food writer Hsiao-Ching Chou
Courtesy of Hsiao-Ching Chou

What’s the best Chinese restaurant in Seattle? Seattle food writer Hsiao-Ching Chou gets this question all the time.

She struggles to answer, she told KUOW’s David Hyde, because there isn’t one.

A photocopy of the Seattle Times' front page the day after 9-year-old George Weyerhaeuser returned home to Tacoma. A sports reporter found him in Issaquah and drove him home.
Seattle Public Library archives

It was the Northwest’s most notorious kidnapping case. Little George Weyerhaeuser had been snatched off the streets of Tacoma and held for $200,000 ransom.  

Eighty years later, Weyerhaeuser, the timber titan, told me he hadn’t read much news coverage about his kidnapping. 

He has a vivid memory of those eight days, he said, but he hadn’t dug through those old stories from 1935. He was 9 at the time, after all, and his parents wanted to leave the kidnapping in the past. They wanted him to grow up without this traumatic event hanging over his life.