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On this day in 1893 Katharine Lee Bates penned “America the Beautiful”

July 22, 2025

On this day in 1893, English professor and social activist Katharine Lee Bates penned “America the Beautiful,” a poem that would soon be turned into the beloved song we still sing today.

The poem turned song not only celebrates the natural beauty of our country, but encourages goodness, brotherhood, and continued blessings and improvement. After the poem was published two years later and subsequently put to music, Bates gave hundreds to thousands of permissions away for free. The song was particularly popular in church hymnals and patriotic readers.

Did you know? Bates was inspired to write the poem after traveling west through Niagara Falls, Chicago, and prairie land. A crowning moment of the trip was her journey to the top of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, after an arduous trip up the mountain, Bates jotted down the opening lines after witnessing “the sea-like expanse of fertile country.”

The view from Pikes Peak is, indeed, expansive – the viewer can look across the Rocky Mountains, seeing nearly as far as Kansas.

 

View of Pike’s Peak, George Caleb Bingham, 1872

-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer

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Date:
July 22, 2025
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