Julia Ward Howe and the First Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870
The first attempts to establish a Mother’s Day in North America began with groups of women who came together to promote peace. More specifically, it started with a Proclamation written by a prominent activist, Julia Ward Howe, who had authored The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier.
The proclamation was written in response to the death and destruction of the Civil War that Julia Ward Howe had witnessed.
She worked with widows and orphans of soldiers on both sides, and became distressed when she realized that the devastating effects of war go far beyond killing soldiers in battle.
In her Proclamation, she called on mothers everywhere to join together to promote peaceful relations and disarmament.
Here is The First Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870:
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts.
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
* * * * * *
We will not have 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.
~ JULIA WARD HOWE, 1870
Staik, A. (2011). Julia Ward Howe and the First Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/05/julia-ward-howe-and-the-first-mothers-day-proclamation-1870/