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Mothers Day message — Our husbands shall not smell of carnage
by Maia & Elfie Ballis/SunMt (elfie [at]
Sunday May 9th, 2004 9:43 AM
First Mothers Day message from 1870. It's not about presents. It's about peace.
Mothers Day roots: political action for peace

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice
goes up with our own: it says ‘Disarm. Disarm.’

This first "The Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace," was written in 1870
by Julia Ward Howe, the mother of six.

Howe had recently walked the battlefields of the Civil War with her husband and
with Abraham Lincoln. She had just written "The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
But now, as the Franco Prussian War was beginning, she felt that she could
not bear any more violence. She called for a congress of women to gather immediately to promote "PEACE: A Mother’s Day for Peace."

Here’s the full text of what she wrote:

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 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 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

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and
commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly
take counsel with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace,
each bearing after their own time the sacred
impress, not of Caesar, 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.