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The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation Julia Ward Howe
Sat May 12, 2018 07:06

The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation
Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

While countries around the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, several countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Turkey celebrate it on the second Sunday of May.

In the United States, the origins of the official holiday go back to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe – an abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – worked to establish a Mother’s Peace Day.

Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war, and organized festivities in Boston for years.

The "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world"(later known as "Mother's Day Proclamation") by Julia Ward Howe was an appeal for women to unite for peace in the world.

Written in 1870, Howe's "Appeal to womanhood" was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

The appeal was tied to Howe's feminist conviction that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

In 1872 Howe asked for the celebration of a "Mother's Day for Peace" on 2 June of every year, but she was unsuccessful.

The modern Mother's Day is an unrelated celebration and it was established by Anna Jarvis years later.

Today, the appeal is included in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal Singing the Living Tradition.

Here is the 1870 Pacifist Appeal to womanhood throughout the world
Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder.

Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons.

In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field.

Thus men have done. Thus men will do.

But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror.

Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering.

That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! 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 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 learning after his 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.

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