Happy Mother’s Day
Here are three women credited with the observance of Mother’s Day in the U.S.
In the 1870s, Julia Ward Howe, who wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, was distraught by deaths from the Civil War. She called on mothers to unite to protest their sons killing other sons. Howe suggested an international celebration of peace and proposed converting July 4 as a day to celebrate motherhood. Instead, June 2 was chosen and in 1873 women’s groups in 18 U.S. cities observed the holiday. Howe initially paid for many celebrations; most ended when she stopped funding them, except Boston Massachusetts, which celebrated the holiday for 10 more years.
Howe had been influenced by the work of Anna Reeves Jarvis, who after the Civil war ended in 1858, was organizing women in the Appalachia area of West Virginia to to work for better sanitary conditions through what she called Mothers Friendship Clubs. In 1868, she began working to reconcile north and south neighbors and is credited with saving many lives by teaching women the basics of nursing and sanitation.
Her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis campaigned to memorialize her mother’s work and lobbied prominent businessmen and politicians to create a special day to honor all mothers. In 1908, at a West Virginia church service celebrating mothers, she handed out her mother's favorite flower, the white carnation. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday. It was first celebrated by church attendance, letter writing, and later by cards, presents, and flowers. Anna Jarvis believed that the day's sentiment was lost with commercialization. In 1923, she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother's Day festival and before she died in 1948, Jarvis is said to have regretted starting the national celebration.