Original Mother’s Day Was An Antiwar Protest

Mother’s Day started as a call for women to organize for world peace.

Julia Ward Howe, a feminist, abolitionist and writer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued the first Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870 following the devastation caused by the American Civil War and the start of the Franco-Prussian war in Europe.

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She was influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, an Appalachian woman who had tried to improve public sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. Jarvis even organized women during the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and after the war worked to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. (In fact, many women actively organized through unions and reform organizations in the decades before 1920 when a constitutional amendment granted them the right to vote.)

Howe called for a national Mother’s Day for Peace every June 2, a time for women of all nations to come together to take action to prevent future wars. The holiday was celebrated in some cities unofficially for a while. In 1914, following an intense campaign by Ann Jarvis’ daughter Anna to establish a holiday honoring mothers, President Wilson declared the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day, but did not include Howe’s antiwar message. Europe was entering The Great War  and the U.S. public was being urged to join  in. Despite Jarvis’s protests, the holiday soon became an occasion for businesses to encourage American consumers to buy their mothers gifts, cards and restaurant meals.  Read Howe’s proclamation below, and honor your mother by reviving her vision – join your local peace organization or see Women’s Action for New Direction’s Action Center at http://www.wandactioncenter.org.  You can also send her a creative e-card from Strong Families at http://www.mamasday.org/

MOTHER’S DAY PROCLAMATION, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

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 taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another 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 out 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 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 Caesars 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 peace.

Julia Ward Howe

Introduction by Barbara Joye, member, Metro Atlanta DSA and the DSA National Political Committee

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 78 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 36 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.