Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)
The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870
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.
Arise, all women who have hearts!
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.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, began the campaign to have Mother’s Day officially recognized, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did this, proclaiming it a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”
Today’s commercialized celebration of candy, flowers, gift certificates, and lavish meals at restaurants bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. There is nothing wrong with that. But here, for the record’s sake, is the proclamation she wrote in 1870, which explains, in her own impassioned words, the goals of the original holiday.
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.
This I Resolve To Do
The New Year is a time for all of us to make resolves
– this one was written in 1918 by G.E. Whitehouse
I, a man, being of sound health and disposing mind, hereby set down these things that I have resolved:
I will profit by the experience of others and will not wait to learn sense by my own experience.
I will be teachable. From every human being I encounter I will learn some-thing.
I will decide by my intellect what my tastes ought to be and make myself like the right things.
I will put away the weakling’s argument that “I can’t help my likes and dislikes.”
I will keep clean in body and mind.
I will not accept as a satisfactory standard what the majority of people are and do.
I will allow no person or institution to coerce my opinion: my judgement shall remain unterrified, unbribed, unseduced.
In this I will not be truculent and offensive, but modest and open to conviction.
I will not declare my belief in anything social and scientific that I do not clearly understand.
I will learn to do some one kind of work expertly, and make my living by that.
I will take from the world only the fair equivalent of what I give it.
I will never take revenge, will harbor no grudges and utterly eliminate any spirit of retaliation.
Life is too short for destruction: all my efforts shall be constructive.
I will not engage in any business or sport that implies fraud, cruelty or injustice to any living thing. I will hurt no child, punish no man, wrong no woman.
I everything I do shall strive to add a little to the sum of happiness and subtract a little from the sum of misery of all living creatures. I will constantly try to make myself agreeable to all persons with whom I come in contact.
I know death is as natural as birth, and that no man knows his hour. I will not fret at this, nor dodge it, but so live that I am ready to go.
I will believe that honesty is better that crookedness, kindness is better than cruelty, truth is better than lies, cleanliness is better than dirt, loyalty is better than hate or coldness.
I will trust my life and my career to an unfailing reliance upon this creed.