The Year Was 1914

The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), 10 May 1914, Mother's Day advertisement The year was 1914 and the Ford Model T was the automobile of choice for most Americans and due to Henry Ford’s revolutionary production lines, the company was turning out a complete car every ninety-three minutes. Workers were paid a minimum of $5.00 a day, which was double what most other manufacturers were paying, and Henry Ford reduced shifts from nine hours to eight to allow for three shifts.

On May 9, President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation that made the second Sunday in May a national holiday–Mother’s Day. The proclamation called upon government officials to “display the United States flag on all government buildings and the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes, or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May, as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country . . .” The ad for Gude Bros. Co., florists which appeared in the May 10, 1914 edition of “The Washington Post” (Washington, D.C.) suggests that readers should wear “White Flowers For Mothers’ Memory” and “Bright Flowers For Mothers Living.” (Click on the image to enlarge the ad.)

The headlines were more somber in late June. On June 28, the eyes of the world turned to Europe upon the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. One month later, World War I began as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

President Wilson issued a declaration that the U.S. would remain neutral in the conflict, but government actions and esponse tended to favor the Allied forces of Britain, France, and Russia over the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. (See the Library of Congress Learning pages for more information.)

The War had an influence on music and popular tunes included It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary and Keep the Home Fires Burning. For lighter fare, movie-goers could see Charlie Chaplin as he introduced his famous “Little Tramp” character to audiences for the first time in Kid Auto Races at Venice.  And everyone’s favorite ape-man came to life as Edgar Rice Burroughs published Tarzan of the Apes.

Another highlight of the year came when, 422 years after Columbus sought passage to the east by sailing west, a new route between the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean was established when the Panama Canal opened, shortening voyages between San Francisco and New York by around 7,800 miles.

5 thoughts on “The Year Was 1914

  1. Very interesting to see the actual proclamation about Mother’s Day in the US. I think I might get my mom a coursage with white flowers in memory of her mother, and myself a coursage with bright flowers in honor of my mom living; In remembrance of the very first Mother’s Day in 1914.

  2. My first memory of the white rose/red rose tradition is after by great-grandmother died in 1939. Before church my mother and I went to the garden and chose a white rose for my grandmother and a red one for my mother and a red one for me. I can still remember the sadness in my grandmother’s face on that first Mother’s Day after the death of her mother. This year I am the grandmother with three children and four grandchildren and still experiencing the wonderful memories. mjm

  3. I was raised by a widowed Aunt and I always wore a red and white rose on Mothers Day. White for my Mother , She died when I was 28 months old, and red for my “new” mpther.

  4. My father always bought coursages for mother and 2 daughters and the boutineer for him and my brother. Red or pink for the girls except Mom always got red roses (her mother was still alive). My brother got a red flower and Dad had a white one, his mother was gone. We were the only family in church that would come with all the flowers. This was a tradition in our family. I’m sure he got it from his parents. It’s nice to know how it got started. It’s a great memory for us!

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