Where does Mother’s Day come from? Its origins can be traced to Julia Ward Howe, a fun-loving, but serious and independent-minded, wealthy New York heiress. Julia was coddled by her family and then while mourning the death of her father and sister-in-law she fell into a tumultuous marriage with a man 20 years her senior. Julia became an abolitionist, feminist and pacifist as well as a published poet.
The women’s suffrage movement was her favorite cause, but she is perhaps best known for writing the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Horrified by the carnage of the civil war, she wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870 shown below. Julia envisioned Mother’s Day as a day when women of all nationalities would come to together to work for world peace.
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will 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, the 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 plough 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace 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.
Happy Mother’s Day!