Mothers’ Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Julia Ward Howe

Mothers’ Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870

Mother’s Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that   war, by women who had lost their sons.

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 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 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

Julia Ward Howe
Boston 1870


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8 thoughts on “Mothers’ Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, 1870

      • Every year I have tried to watch the National Memorial Day Concert, but have decided to skip it this year in protest. I now see that most of our wars have been fought to protect corporate interests and I feel sick and deep grief as I see what appears to me to be fake homage to the war dead and injured.


    • Hi, Rita.  I just opened an email from Liz (Peace and Justice Action League director) and she sent out this same quote.  She’s calling on us to do a demonstration downtown on the issue of endless wars this coming Saturday. 

      Take care.  Love,  Polly


  1. Thank you Rita. The Spirit of Julia Ward Howe needs to be heard today, not only on the battle fields, but also on the streets of our towns, cites, and states. I say all women should stand together on Mother’s Day say and “Stop the Violence Now!!!” Just look at what the NRA are doing to Moms demanding actions against gun violence. Shameful!


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