The United States celebrates Mother's Day with a flurry of gifts and greeting cards. However, Mother's Day was not originally conceived as a consumer gimmick. Rather, it began in 1870 as a rallying cry for mothers who lost husbands and sons in the Civil War and as a renunciation of war, militarism and patriarchy. Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation, penned in Boston in 1870 by anti-slavery and pro-women's suffrage leader Julia Ward Howe (who also wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"):
Arise then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, 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 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.
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 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.