Mother's Day: Not All Cards and Flowers

Julia Ward Howe; one ambitious mother

 

 

Mother's Day has many historical antecedents, Mother's Day in the United States grew out of women's political activism in the period following the civil war. It's amazing to read this speech by Julia Ward Howe, with its modest ambition of ending war. It's audatious, it's focused beyond the home and personal life. I like it!

 

Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870

 

Arise then...women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

"We will not have questions answered 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 a 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 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.