First National Congress Of Mothers
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE originator of the project of a Congress of Mothers, Mrs. T. W. Birney, believing in the necessity for organized and earnest effort on the part of the mothers of the land concerning questions most vital to the welfare of their children and the manifold interests of the home, presented the subject at some of the Mothers' Meetings at Chautauqua in the summer of 1895. The earnest enthusiasm with which it was received made it evident that the thought needed only to be disseminated in order to be quickly accepted and acted upon by hosts of conscientious, thinking women throughout the world, and to result in a centralization of their power toward the accomplishment of great and necessary reforms in the interest of humanity.
It was proposed to have the Congress consider subjects bearing upon the better and broader spiritual and physical, as well as mental training of the young, such as the value of kindergarten work and the extension of its principles to more advanced studies, a love of humanity and of country, the physical and mental evils resulting from some of the present methods of our schools, and the advantages to follow from a closer relation between the influence of the home and that of institutions of learning. Of special importance would be the subject of the means of developing in children characteristics which would elevate and ennoble them, and thus assist in overcoming the conditions which now prompt crime, and make necessary the maintenance of jails, workhouses, and reformatories.
The impulse was found in the love of home, mothers, fathers and children; belief in the necessity for organized and earnest efforts on the part of the fathers and mothers of the land concerning questions most vital to the welfare of the children and the home.
The direct object of the Congress, was, then, to wipe out the strongholds of maternal ignorance; to make of every household a home by educating the mothers and fathers in true parent-hood, and by bettering its conditions, multiplying its pleasures, and creating more ideal surroundings for its children; to purify the fountains of evil, and render reform needless; to forestall philanthropy by securing more healthful living, better housing, more economical planning, purer amusements, more means of self-support; to lead mothers to thought on their own responsibility, to the end that the evil resulting from ignorance, indifference and neglect, be eradicated; to arouse mothers to a full appreciation of educational methods, to the duty and necessity of investigating methods, and to their responsibility in the matter of choosing the best educators for their children.
Amid the maze of manifold theories and schemes for human betterment the idea has been growing that the answer to the crowding problems of the race lies in the conditions and possible development of the childhood of the race, and every organization and every institution has begun to give its share of attention to the development of the child. Yet it has remained for this new society to "take the child and set him in the midst," making him who is already the center of love the center of strong endeavor, the key to the closed gates of our highest progress, the heart and soul of our hope that the world, becoming as a little child, may yet enter the kingdom of God.