The Antiwar Origin of Mother’s Day

The "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" (later known as "Mother’s Day Proclamation") by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe was an appeal for women to unite for peace in the world. Written in 1870, Howe’s "Appeal to womanhood" was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The appeal was tied to Howe’s feminist conviction that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World

by Julia Ward Howe

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day! 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 of murder is not the balance of justice.

Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate 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 council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind 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.

  • Thomas Carlson

    I’m guessing that the tweety-bird Trump will celebrate Mother’s Day by dropping the Mother of All Bombs on “the enemy”.

    • BrotherJonah

      The day after Trump told us that we should look upon the minions of the Police State as “a thin blue line that separates civilization from the forces of chaos” which is a direct plagiarism from the theme of “The Thin Blue Line” starring Rowan Adkins aka Black Adder and Mr Bean. Mr Trump’s script writers changed the last word from “anarchy” . That from a crybaby entitled punk who sues people for taking or publishing pictures of him, For Plagiarism. I had just gotten a copy of the Colorado Springs Gazette, who aren’t as rabidly right wing extremists than they used to be (not an unreachable goal, Mussolini wasn’t as fascist as the Gazette used to be) the headline being a case of police brutality where the Fremont County Sheriffs Department killed John Walter by depriving medications, medical care of any kind and beating (from the combination of causes) him to death. He was 53. Not convicted of anything. Accused of a shouting match basically, in Colorado that’s called ‘menacing’ and is a felony. No trial though. Just another lynching. This treatise I’m writing is not about the I Shall Not Raise My Son To Kill Another Woman’s Son theme of Mothers day before it became an occasion to sell flowers and cards.

      Just the way Trump is. Plus it’s Police Memorial Day. Just a coincidence. He told us to thank any cop we see. Damn, I must be just ungrateful for the wondrous beatings they gave me and the one they gave to John Walter.
      9 broken ribs while he was in an observation cell.

      I just can’t bring myself to thank them for that.

      As for ‘the enemy’, in the immortal words of Pogo, “we has met the enemy, and they is us”
      Righteousness is righteousness regardless of the source. The same could be said of evil.

      I’m glad Mother’s Day wasn’t done to exploit, but to heal. The courage to raise your children and teach them the ways of peacemaking. Also that the Recruiters aren’t actively promoting Motherhood with their constant murder spree.

  • JP McEvoy

    Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
    On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
    Do not weep.
    War is kind.

    • deganawida

      war is kind
      as a thief is generous
      as a politician is honest
      as a soldier is guiltless

      war is blind
      as the darkness of a crypt
      as the damning of a soul
      as the crime of the innocent…

  • deganawida

    mothers
    do not your kids to war
    teach them instead
    peace

  • MissV

    Love & peace to not only Mother’s around the world. I welcome love & peace to the whole world! I am sorry that I am American, but I DO NOT SUPPORT ANY USA WARS! So please don’t hold them against me!

  • deganawida

    in a few months time picture trump, hair flying, atop a moab falling down ala slim pickins in Dr. Strangelove.

  • deganawida

    war is kind
    as a thief is generous
    as a politician is honest
    as a soldier is guiltless

    war is blind
    as the crime on the innocent
    as the darkness of a crypt
    as the damning of a soul

    War is the engine of narcissism
    Is the lifeblood of empires
    Is the whore of the arm merchant
    Is the heart of the rich
    Is the pedophile of our children
    As parents wave flags over abomination
    Cheering the monster on

    War is a tool
    A fools addiction
    That should ever be banned
    Reforged into a plowshare
    Forever more…

    thanks JP

    • JP McEvoy

      the pedophile of our children

      Beware the chickenhawks… Don’t let them ruin your child the way they did GW Bush.

  • novembersneverending

    sorry but I didn’t understand if this is the actual origin of mother’s day or 2 different things that merged ?

  • unam_sanctum

    How Unamerican ! The audacity of this woman to push her Christianity on others, it is deplorable !