Julia Ward Howe's is best known for writing famous poem, 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'. Julia Howe's 'Mother's Day Proclamation' was one of the earliest calls to celebrate Mother's Day in the United States. Written in 1870, Howe's Proclamation was a reaction to the destruction caused by American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Julia witnessed some of the worst effects of the war. It was not only the death and diseases, which killed and maimed the soldiers. Working with the widows and orphans of soldiers made her realize that effect of war go beyond the loss of soldiers' life in battle. Distressed by her experience and the realities of war, in 1870 Julia Ward Howe took up a new cause. Seeing Franco-Prussian War inevitable, she called for women to rise up and oppose the war in all its forms. She wanted women from all around the world to come together to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Proclamation in hope to gather women together to share the responsibility of shaping the society at political level. This powerful proclamation advocated the need for official Mother's Day celebration. She was the first person in US to recognize the need for Mother's Day holiday.
Following this Proclamation, in 1872 the Mother's Peace Day Observance was held on the second Sunday in June. Such observances became common and paved the way for Mothers' Day Holiday in US. Though she failed in her attempt to get formal Mother's Day for Peace, she is known for her significant contributions towards this day. Later it was in 1914, Anna Jarvis succeeded in declaring Mother's Day as official holiday.
The modern Mother's Day celebration with flowers, gifts has little resemblance to Howe's original idea. Here is the Proclamation that explains, which explains the goals of Mother's Day in the United States.
Mother's Day Proclamation
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"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."
From the bosum of a 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 plough 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And 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 peace.
The 'Mother's Day Proclamation' by Julia Ward Howe was the earliest call to celebrate Mother's Day in U.S. Read more to find about origin of Mother's Day.