Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother's Day - How An Abolitionist Liberal Wrote A Proclamation For Peace And An End To War in 1872

Did you know that Mother's Day has a controversial and political meaning, going back to 1872? That is when a woman named Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation. Howe was opposed to war and tried to get mothers throughout the United States to join together against war anywhere in the world.

Julia Howe had written the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic earlier, in 1861, after being devastated by the Civil War. She wanted women to unite and help to bring an end to fighting and war of any kind. She believed that if mothers stood up against war then the men in government would listen and wars would become a thing of the past.

But it was not to be. Howe was a vocal abolitionist and had come into disfavor with those who wanted slavery to continue well after the end of the Civil War. These people made it difficult for Howe to get her message out. Her Proclamation became an underground message for women's rights. Women's liberation was not a popular movement at this time in our country's history so Mother's Day for Peace was celebrated quietly by few women for the next 30 years.

It is interesting that Mother's Day would have its roots in a peace loving, abolitionist, women's rights system of beliefs. Howe wanted women to be able to vote, but that desire probably kept the women of her time from having any more rights and privileges than they already enjoyed. If women had been given the vote back in the 1870's the future of the United States may have gone differently. Instead, women were forced to wait until 1920 to vote.

Susan B. Anthony had cast an illegal vote in the same year,1872, and was fined $100 for doing so. More than likely she cast her vote for Horace Greeley and not for Ulysses S. Grant. Greeley, who died a few weeks after the election, was considered to be the more liberal candidate and also had spoken in favor of women's rights in general.

So in the same year that Susan B. Anthony was voting illegally and Horace Greeley was running for President as a liberal candidate, Julia Ward Howe wrote her Mother's Day Proclamation and started Mother's Day for Peace.

It wasn't until many years later that Anna Jarvis, the daughter of a woman who helped care for soldiers during the Civil War, was able to start a national day of recognition for all mothers in the United States.

Here we are 135 years later and although women now have the vote and many other privileges once only granted to men, not much has changed on the war front. Happy Mother's Day to all women readers. Think about what we can all do today that was only allowed to be done by men in the past. Maybe we can change some more things for women of the future.


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C.S. said...

I like your blog a lot, but that suggestion that women being given the vote earlier would have changed the course of history is kinda wacky.