August 12 – Happy Birthday, Katharine Lee Bates

Posted on August 12, 2017

Celebrate with me a woman who was an author, poet, social activist, and professor. Katharine Lee Bates wrote travel books, children's books, magazine articles, poetry, and song lyrics. She is known as one of the people who popularized the character of Mrs. Claus (wife of Santa Claus), but she is most famous fro writing the patriotic anthem "America the Beautiful." 

Born on this date in 1859, Bates grew up when the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln. She was disappointed when Republicans wouldn't endorse the international organization started by Woodrow Wilson as a result of World War I. (This organization, called the League of Nations, wanted to prevent future wars by providing a way for people from various nations to meet, air differences, and iron out problems without violence. But the League of Nations proved to be not all that useful in preventing World War II, and after the second world war, it was scrapped for a new, stronger international organization, the United Nations.) In the 1924 election, Bates switched her support to the Democratic nominee for president.

Bates was an independent thinker in other ways, too. She was a college professor at Wellesley; she never married or had children, but she lived with another female professor for a quarter of a century. 

One of the other professors called Bates a "free-flying spinster" as "fringe on the garment of life." Bates replied, "I always thought the fringe had the best of it. I don't think I mind not being woven in."

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