Mother’s Day Peace

In honour of the day, here is a bit about the North American origins of Mother’s Day.

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, suffragist and author of the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was stirred into activism after the brutal Franco-Prussian war. She attempted to coordinate an international pacifist conference, but had little response or even interest from the male population. She appealed to war mothers, the women who supported the husbands and sons at war, pleading “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?” Soon, Howe headed the American branch of the Woman’s International Peace Association, which observed a day dedicated to peace.
The Origin of Mother’s Day

The cause of world peace was the impetus for Julia Ward Howe’s establishment, over a century ago, of a special day for mothers. Following unsuccessful efforts to pull together an international pacifist conference after the Franco-Prussian War, Howe began to think of a global appeal to women.
“While the war was still in progress,” she wrote, she keenly felt the “cruel and unnecessary character of the contest.” She believed, as any woman might, that it could have been settled without bloodshed. And, she wondered, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?”
Howe’s version of Mother’s Day, which served as an occasion for advocating peace, was held successfully in Boston and elsewhere for several years, but eventually lost popularity and disappeared from public notice in the years preceding World War I.
The Origin of Mother’s Day

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