Page 1 of 2
Mother love needs to be cultivated for the good of mankind and for the wellbeing of our sacred planet. The potential for this all-embracing maternal consciousness lies within all of us, male and female. Very often, it is when we hold our first child in our arms that the flame of mother love is ignited. Once burning, it cannot be extinguished. Throughout history, women have acted to bring the love and compassion felt for their own children into their community, their country, and their world. Passionately expressing a mother’s love, they have worked to create a better world for future generations. Their work has left a legacy for us to follow.
The History of Mother’s Day
To the women who contributed to the inception of Mother’s Day, the connection between mother love and the fight for social and economic justice and peace seemed self-evident. To Anna Reeves Jarvis, Julia Warde Howe, and Anna Reeves, (the daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis), Mother’s Day was much more than recognition of individual mothers. It was an opportunity to use mother love as a powerful force for peacemaking, reconciliation, and community cohesion.
Anna Reeves Jarvis
In the 1850’s, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mother Work Day Clubs that focused on providing medicine for the poor and on improving sanitary conditions. Then, during the Civil War, Mother’s Day Clubs cared for all soldiers—regardless of which side of the battle they had chosen. After the war ended, Anna Reeves Jarvis continued her peacemaking by working to bring people together to heal the deep wounds of those who had been divided by the war.
Julia Ward Howe
In the 1870s, Julia Ward Howe began organizing “Mothers Peace Day.” After the blood bath of the civil war, she focused on voting rights for women and world peace. When war broke out between France and Prussia, she wrote an impassioned plea to mothers saying, “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.” At the end she implores, “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 to promote the great and general interest of peace.” Following unsuccessful efforts to pull together an international peace conference, she made a global appeal to women while the Franco-Prussian war was still in progress. She implored women to speak out for peace asking, “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?” For the next thirty years, Americans celebrated Mother’s Day for Peace on June 2nd. During this time, mothers played a leading role in the abolitionist movement to end slavery and launched campaigns to protect children and to improve the working conditions of women.