May 9

This Day in History

Presidential

May 9, 1914:

Woodrow Wilson proclaims the first Mother's Day holiday

On this day in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issues a presidential proclamation that officially establishes the first national Mother's Day holiday to celebrate America's mothers.

The idea for a "Mother's Day" is credited by some to Julia Ward Howe (1872) and by others to Anna Jarvis (1907), who both suggested a holiday dedicated to a day of peace. Many individual states celebrated Mother's Day by 1911, but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother's Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May. In his first Mother's Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to "[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

In 2002, President George W. Bush echoed Wilson's sentiments by acknowledging mothers in his official statement on Mother's Day in 2002. He commended foster mothers as well as his own "fabulous mother" for their "love and sacrifice." He also mentioned past presidents' expressions of appreciation for their mothers. He quoted John Quincy Adams as having said "all that I am my mother made me" and Abraham Lincoln's sentiment that "all that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother ?[my mother's prayers] have clung to me all my life." Bush's own mother, Barbara, was a popular first lady when the elder Bush served as president from 1989 to 1992.

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