The Meaning of Mother’s Day

Over at the blog of the Historical Society, Heather Cox Richardson discusses the history of Mother’s Day. 

She reminds us that the holiday was rooted in the quest to empower women in the wake of the Civil War.  Here is a taste:

Out of the war came not only the horror of war, but also a new sense of empowerment for Union women. During the war, they had bought bonds, paid taxes, raised money for the war effort, managed farms, harvested fields, worked in war industries, reared children, nursed soldiers. When the war ended, they were eager to continue to participate in national affairs. Resenting that the Fourteenth Amendment did not establish that women, as well as African-American men, were citizens, women in 1869 organized the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association and the American Woman’s Suffrage Association to promote women’s right to have a say in the direction of the country.

Julia Ward Howe was a key figure in the American Woman’s Suffrage Association. She was a Boston lady drawn to women’s rights because current laws meant that if she broke free from her abusive husband, she would lose any right to see her children (a fact he threw at her whenever she threatened to leave him). She was not a radical in the mold of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Rather, she believed strongly that women, as mothers, had a special role to perform in the world…