The Reverend Dr. Nancy Taylor pointed out from the pulpit of Old South Church on Sunday that Mother’s Day has deep ties to Boston, and to progressive thought. Julia Ward Howe, the author of the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” called for the first Mother’s Day in 1870 as a day for peace, a protest against the carnage of war. (It was to take another 37 years to get an actual observance of the day, by which point it had morphed into a memorial day for mothers.) Here is Howe’s actual proclamation from 1870:
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
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
Interesting that somehow in the intervening 135 years between the first proclamation and today, Mother’s Day became about flowers, candy, and lunch out… Dr. Taylor’s sermon on the topic was thought-provoking; hopefully it will get posted soon. (I really need to talk to her about blogging.)
(I’m about two days behind on my blogging; I was thinking about writing this on Sunday but didn’t quite get there.)