Mother's Day for Peace
Julia Ward Howe is perhaps best known for the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", a piece that she wrote to help free people from slavery, which she later adapted for the Woman Suffrage Association, a movement that she organized after the Civil War.
What is generally not known about Howe is that she is one of the founder(s) of Mother's Day. Sickened over the ravages of the war that she had directly witnessed, Howe called for a "Mother's Day for Peace" in 1872. Howe felt that peace and equality were the two most important issues in the world, calling for all women to rise up against war, asking that they join together to try and find peaceful solutions to conflict.
Although women in 18 cities across America celebrated "Mother's Day for Peace" in 1873, this was not to become a nationally recognized holiday until years later.
The original idea for "Mother's Day" came from Anna Jarvis in 1858, who organizing women throughout the Civil war to improve sanitation as well as the relations between the Union and Confederates.
Jarvis's daughter (also named Anna), crusaded for an officially recognized holiday after her mother's death. The first commemoration was in 1907. The Mother's Day celebration occurred in a church in West Virginia where Anna's mother had previously taught. By 1912 most states had adopted it as a holiday and in 1914, Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday. Wilson, however, stressed a woman's role as familial rather than social, as compared to Howe's original meaning of the day, an appeal for women everywhere to rise up against injustice!
Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870 by: Julia Ward Howe
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered 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 voice 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 our 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 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.