This week in the Civil War for June 15, 1864
Jefferson Davis Funeral Car

Father's Day has roots in the Civil War


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Fathers Day In America Has Ties To The American Civil War

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas, Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War VeteranWilliam Jackson Smart, who was a sergeant in the Union’s First Arkansas Light Artillery, and a single parent who raised his six children there.

After hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers.

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913

The Civil War Parlor

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