The following proclamation (1870) was written by Julia Ward Howe. She was the woman who organized for the first “Mother’s Day,” originally called, “Mother’s Peace Day.” Julia was a poet, activist and abolitionist, who was moved to write and organize after witnessing the carnage of civil war. In origin, Mother’s Peace Day was a protest of peace in a world committed to tearing families apart due to war.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, began the campaign to have Mother’s Peace Day become Mother’s Day to be recognized as a national holiday. It was officially recognized in 1914 as “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”
Now it’s about hallmark cards and sentimentality.
But Julia Ward Rowe’s words still speak. Read it. Capture the original spirit of the day.
“Arise, then… women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!
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 of justice.
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
nor violence vindicate 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 council.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace,
each bearing after his own kind 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.“