When the US Civil War ended in 1865, more than half a million soldiers lay dead,
the economy was shattered, and people remained deeply divided politically. The
observance of Mother’s Day in the United States began with two women’s efforts
for peace and reconciliation during this time of anguish. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe
called for an International Mother’s Day on which women would unite in opposing
war in all its forms. A few years later, Anna Reeves Jarvis began her annual
Mother’s Friendship Day in an effort to reunite families and neighbors who
had been alienated by the war.