1914: My 3rd Cousin’s Husband Proclaimed Mother’s Day a National Holiday

A Presidential Proclamation

First Lady - Edith Bolling Wilson

First Lady – Edith Bolling Wilson My 3rd Cousin

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson (husband of my third cousin, Edith Bolling Wilson), issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. But, there are two lines of thought about where and when the idea of Mother’s Day was first brought up.

Julia Ward Howe

1) Julia Ward Howe was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist (especially in the women’s rights to vote movement), poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  She saw some of the worst effects of the Civil War — not only the death and disease which killed and maimed the soldiers. She worked with the widows and orphans of soldiers on both sides of the war and realized that the effects of the war went beyond the killing of soldiers in battle. She also saw the economic devastation and crises that followed the war and the restructuring of the economies of both North and South.

In 1870, Mrs. Howe distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what they held in common above what divided them, and to commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Declaration, hoping to gather women in a congress of action.  In 1872, her campaign for a holiday to commemorate peace and to reunite families (mothers and their sons) who had been separated by the Civil War failed.mothers-day proclamation-julia-ward-howe

 Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis - 1872

Anna Jarvis – 1872

2) Anna Jarvis’ mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, also attempted to set up a version of Mother’s Day during the Civil War as a time for remembrance. After the holiday failed to catch on, Anna recalled hearing her mother pray for a memorial day for mothers. Anna’s mother died in May 1905, and two years later, Ms. Jarvis held a memorial for her mother and her good deeds. The next year, she again held a service and gave away carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to all that attended. Red and pink carnations were worn for living mothers, and white for those who had passed away. Jarvis wanted all to attend church and afterward, for children to spend time writing a note of appreciation to their mothers.  In 1910, she formed a committee in West Virginia at it became the first state to adopt the holiday.

Anne Reeves Jarvis

A placard in the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston, WV, to honor the Jarvis women and Mother’s Day.

Soon, Jarvis began to raise new awareness and support, and in 1914, President Wilson declared the second Sunday in May “Mother’s Day.”

In President Wilson’s first Mother’s Day proclamation, he stated that the holiday offered a chance to “publicly express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Jeremiah Warren: photographer, videographer, After Effects’er, YouTuber, and social media marketer based in Dallas, TX, produced the following clever video last year in honor of the day.  I thought you might enjoy it.



See also:      http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day/videos/history-of-mothers-day

Happy Mother's Day

2 thoughts on “1914: My 3rd Cousin’s Husband Proclaimed Mother’s Day a National Holiday

  1. Pingback: Top 7 Mother’s Day Trivia You Probably Didn’t Know

  2. Reblogged this on Our Heritage: 12th Century & Beyond and commented:

    With Mother’s Day this Sunday, May 11, I thought I would repost my special connection to it, along with history.com’s video that tells the story of the women who rose up in the 19th Century to fight for peace and to reunite families who had been separated by war. Happy Mother’s to all the wonderful and courageous women of the world.


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