Mother's Day first emerged as a call to action for women in the peace movement who wanted to end war. Julia Ward Howe wrote the "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870. It was a profound reaction to the mayhem of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. It related to her belief that women could play a critical role in creating peaceful cultures. So while you're making with the cards and flowers today ... remember where all this started.
Mothers' Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
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
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 our 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.