The Activist Origins of Mothers Day

Julia-Ward-HoweThe idea of an annual official celebration of Mothers day in the US was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in the late 1800s. An activist, writer and poet, Julia suggested that Mothers Day should be celebrated annually each Spring and be dedicated to peace activism by women. Julia tirelessly championed the cause of the official celebration of Mothers Day. She finally succeed, but corporate groups like Hallmark have tried to remove the activist origins of the holiday. To counter this historical amnesia, please check out Julia Ward Howe’s inspiring Mothers Day Peace Proclamation from 1870 here:

Julia Ward Howe’s Mothers Day Peace Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.”

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of 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.

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