The Anti-War Origins of Mother's Day
Each year the president issues a Mother's Day Proclamation. The
original Mother's Day Proclamation was made in 1870. Written by Julia
Ward Howe, perhaps best known today for having written the words to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1862 when she was an anti-slavery
activist, the original Proclamation was an impassioned call for peace
and disarmament. In the years following the Civil War her political
activism increased, as did her condemnation of war. Here are the words to the original Mother's Day Proclamation:
"Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant
agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom
of a 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 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his
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 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."