Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mother's Day for Peace

Julia Ward Howe is credited with first putting forth the idea for Mother’s Day in the U.S., which she called Mother’s Day for Peace. Appalled by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, she proposed a women’s conference for peace. In her words, “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."

I was amazed several years ago to learn of this original vision for Mother’s Day. It is exactly what I desire as a mother and as a human being, and it’s a beautiful way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Here is the text of her Mother’s Day Proclamation, widely circulated in 1870.

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided 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 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 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 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.


  1. thanks for sharing! what a great lens to look through at mother's day.

  2. Tricia, I like her proclamation as well. A friend of mine used to have monthly get- togethers -- she had these cards that were about women in history. Each month we'd all pick a card and honor the achievements of the woman highlighted on the card, and discuss how it impacted the way we live today. We did other things too, but I always liked that part, there were a lot of woman who made history but you never heard about it!

    Happy Mother's Day!!