The first presidential proclamation honoring Mother’s Day was issued by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Each successive year, presidents followed Wilson’s example and issued a Mother’s Day proclamation. But in 1935, Franklin Roosevelt broke with tradition. He believed that Mother’s Day was so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that an annual presidential proclamation was an unnecessary exercise. So President Roosevelt ignored a Senate resolution calling for a proclamation and instead issued a statement from the White House urging that tributes to American mothers “come simply and spontaneously from our hearts.”
This document is a draft of the Statement by the President issued from the White House on May 7, 1935. The handwritten changes in blue ink are in FDR’s handwriting.
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Sara Delano Roosevelt, FDR’s mother, has been much maligned by some historians, but . . .
Geoffrey Ward, one of FDR’s best biographers, wrote of FDR’s mother:
“If it’s the job of a mother to make her child feel that he or she can do anything, then Sarah Delano Roosevelt was surely one of the great mothers in American history.”
Despite the enormous challenges he had to face during his lifetime — his polio, The Great Depression, and World War II — FDR remained buoyant, confident, creative, full of life, and productive.
FDR’s mother must be given some credit for some of that.
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