143 years ago this proclamation was issued by a woman to women. Most histories trace the current practice of celebrating Mother’s Day back to Ms. Howe. The journey has been one of proclamation, obscurity, resurrection, and then platitudes and commercialization.
Mother’s Day 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
Blood does not wipe our 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
Julia Ward Howe
From Wikipedia: After the war she focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women’s suffrage. In 1870 she wrote her Mother’s Day Proclamation. It was a “Mother’s Day for Peace”, asking women from the world to join for world’s peace. In 1872, she asked that “Mother’s Day” be celebrated on the 2nd of June. Her efforts were not successful, and by 1893 she was wondering if the 4th of July could be remade into “Mother’s Day”. From 1872 to 1879, she assisted Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell in editing Woman’s Journal.
Dr. Annick Safken says
very interesting document. Thanks Nancy.
Nancy Hill says
Thank you Annick! Feel free to share, widely! This was central to my CODEpink days. Women working together are the means to so many desirable ends.
Ginny Beal says
Thank you Nancy for awakening me to the real meaning of Mother’s Day, a few years ago. I’ll always remember our peace sign in the park!
Nancy Hill says
That was fun wasn’t it? And so worth doing! Love you bunches!