Arise then...women of this day!

So begins Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, written in 1870 as a rallying cry for peace following the U.S. Civil War and at the start of the Franco-Prussian War. It continues:
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."
Howe's manifesto is somewhat obscured by the more familiar Mother's Day story: where Anna Jarvis came to regret the commercialized version of her well-meaning campaign to honor mothers with a holiday. Why Howe's feminist, anti-war day became subsumed by Jarvis's more "sentimental" holiday (and I harbor no prejudice toward sentimentality), one can only guess.

Equally intriguing is the Mother's Day Proclamation in context of Howe's other writing, specifically "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the Civil War hit published in 1862, and "The Hermaphrodite," published post-humously in 2004 and presumably written in 1846-47. When placed beside one another, these three pieces offer a fascinating look at gender politics in 19th century U.S.

Watch Mother's Acting Up's dramatic reading of Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation:

For more information, visit, Code Pink, and Jodie Evans's article, "Do You Know Why Mother's Day Was Started?"
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  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Unfortunately, "Attention all Walmart shoppers" is now the common cry on Mother's Day. Like sheep to the slaughter.
    Having healthy, loving children is the best mother's day gift one could, and should, ever ask for.

  2. Anonymous4:47 PM

    Thanks Mom!!


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