Julia Ward Howe is one of history’s
famous mothers. She was involved in the
women’s suffrage movement. With another
woman she was the founder of Mother’s Day.
Without Howe, women would not have many of the rights that they
today, including the national holiday of Mother’s Day.
She was a successful contributor to women’s
history through the advancement of motherhood, and of the rights of
Ward Howe was born on May 27, 1819, in New York City. Howe
was born into a long line of important
people in the world of government and politics.
So she already had some of the power she would need to be
government issues. Howe had five
brothers and sisters. Her father was a
banker who earned lots of money. Her
mother gave Howe and the rest of her siblings lessons in French,
music, and English, but Howe’s mother died at the age of twenty-seven
was only five. When she was sixteen she
learned German from her older brother who had spent a couple of years
in Germany. A good start to an education was important
for Howe to have.
met her husband when she was twenty-four and he was forty.
His name was Doctor Samuel Gridley Howe. Like
Howe, he was involved in many
things. He had spent six years in Greece
in the war for independence. His
position was that of surgeon-in-chief. He
was also the Director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind where he
educated the blind and deaf. In
addition, Doctor Howe edited the Boston Commonwealth
worked on it as well with him), which was an anti-slavery paper. They became engaged in the winter of 1842-43
where Howe spent much of her time. During
their life together, they had six children.
began her involvement in the woman’s suffrage movement by joining an
organization called the New England Woman’s Club. She
was a member from the very beginning,
when the club was first established.
Howe gave speeches and contributed to debates among group
members. The group of women often went on
promote women’s suffrage outside their own city. In
1868, Howe was asked to attend a women’s
congress in New York City. She served on a sub-committee whose task was
to choose the topic of each annual congress meeting, and who the
be. Since the New England Woman’s Club
was now expanding and working nationally, they became known as the
for the Advancement of Women. Their
motto was “Truth, Justice, and Honor.”
In 1879, Howe was elected as the fourth president of the
during a congress held in Boston.
1882, Howe was also asked to be the president of the first established
Department, a government agency in Boston. They
held industrial fairs to show how women
were involved in many divisions of service and manufacturing. In the fair, there were exhibits on the
and handicraft of women. These included
their articles, scientific work, and a variety of books women had
written. Much of the scientific work was
by the female students who attended the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. After Howe became the
president of this Women’s Department, she was asked in 1883-84 to be
president of a woman’s committee in the great World’s Fair in New Orleans.
This fair had many financial difficulties, however, when people
they would donate money never did.
one of Howe’s trips to Paris,
she was asked to be involved in a congress on woman’s rights. There were two presidents elected for this
congress. Howe was one of them, and the
other president was a man well known to the public.
The congress was held in France.
Having learned French from a very young age, Howe
was a fluent speaker in the language and was able to participate in the
congress which all in French. In 1894, she
was elected the president for United Friends of Armenia.
And, in 1891, she founded The American
Friends of Russian Freedom. Howe was
included in women’s rights and humanitarian causes not just in America,
became with the problems facing the Armenian culture.
The Turks were stripping Armenians of all
their rights and protection. Many
Armenians were being killed by the Turks, which is still a situation
today. On November 26, 1894, the Boston Armenian
Committee called a meeting. Howe gave a
speech that day asking members to contribute in the effort to save the
Armenians. Not too long later, she was
named their president. Howe was involved
on the committee for many years. Every
time there was a threat to the Armenians, the committee, along with
work to stop the threat.
American Academy of Arts and Letters
as their first woman member in 1907. She
received three honorary doctorates of letters degrees.
When she got a degree from Smith College,
they described her as: “Poet and patriot, lover of letters and
advocate for over half a century in print and living speech of great
human liberty; [and] sincere friend of all that makes for the elevation
enrichment of women.” This quotation
basically described Howe as being a woman who loved to learn as well as
teach. She cared about the advancement of
everyone; women, African- Americans, and Armenians, among them.
was also a mother figure to many people all over the United States. Along with a woman named Anna Jarvis, she
the holiday of Mother’s Day in America.
The two women did not work together,
however. Howe was influenced by Jarvis
who had started working on establishing a day for mothers before her. During this time, the Civil War was going on. Howe acted as a mother to all the young boys
fighting in the war, as well as the young children whose fathers were
in the war or were killed. She did this
by stating that young men should not be involved in the war. And the children of dead veterans, who were
now orphans, needed help. She attempted
to convince mothers of the hardships that children faced because of the
and that children and families should not be involved in warfare. Howe began hosting meetings for women and
mothers to attend. In the meetings, they
worked towards re-establishing peace, improving economic conditions,
conditions, and coming up with solutions to reconcile the Confederate
the Union side. Howe would have meetings
once a year in Boston. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially
that the second Sunday of every May was to be celebrated as Mother’s
Day. It was also a day to honor mothers
hard at motherhood, as well as to improve society.
was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1998. She was successful at getting mothers the
recognition they deserved, as well as women in general.
She was not only a big help to mothers and
women, but also made positive contributions in the fight against
of the rights of other countries such as Armenia. Julia
Ward Howe died on the morning of Monday October 17, 1910, due
to pneumonia. When Howe’s daughter,
Maud, asked her what her ideal aim of life was, Howe responded, “To
teach, to serve, to enjoy.” Howe
definitely achieved these four ideals in her life.