JULIA WARD HOWE AND MOTHER`S DAY
Mother`s Day Story: Genesis of the Festival in US
The story of Mothers Day in US began with the efforts of a dynamic writer and poetess, Julia Ward Howe in 1872. An activist to the core Julia utilized her potentials to further the cause of Mothers Day. She wrote a powerful Mothers Day Proclamation in Boston in 1870 and demanded declaration of official holiday and celebrations on Mothers Day. Her idea gained popularity but she could not get the idea implemented. Julia is also credited for penning words for Civil War song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic".
In 1868 Julia Ward Howe founded the New England Woman`s Club along with Caroline Severance. She also began to attend meetings of New England Woman Suffrage Association and served as its president, 1868-77 and 1893-1910. In 1869 she and Lucy Stone led the formation of the American Woman Suffrage Association. She also presided over the Massachusetts Suffrage Association, 1870-78 and 1891-93 and made significant contributions to the Woman`s Journal founded by Lucy Stone. These activities changed the outlook of Julia. She came to think more positively about womanhood.
During the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, Julia began a one-woman peace crusade and made an impassioned "appeal to womanhood" to rise against war. She translated her powerful Mothers Day Proclamation (written in 1870, Boston) into several languages and distributed it widely. Julia Ward Howe also went to London in 1872 to promote an international Woman`s Peace Congress. In Boston, she initiated a Mothers` Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June and held the meeting for a number of years. She rigorously championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. Her idea was widely accepted but was later replaced by the Mothers` Day holiday now celebrated in May.
Julia made extensive lecture tours and organized women`s clubs wherever she went. In 1893, gave an address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, titled "What Is Religion?" In 1908 Julia Ward Howe became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Julia Ward Howe died on October 17, 1910. A large number of people came to pay their last respects to the pioneering woman in literature at the services held at Church of the Disciples and at Symphony Hall. A number of biographies are written on Julia Ward Howe and her name also appears in the `Notable American Women` and `American National Biography`.
Mothers` Day Proclamation
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 decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 to 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 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his 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 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.