I’m trying to give myself a day off of looking at the news. Instead, in honor of Mother’s Day and in view of ongoing world events, here’s something timeless. Julia Ward Howe, lyricist of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” wrote this Mothers Day Proclamation in response to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War:

Original Mothers Day Proclamation

Julia Ward Howe, 1870


Arise then, women of this day!

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

Say firmly:

‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agenices.

‘Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

‘From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, and 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 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 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 be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote and alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

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