Four Famous Mothers Throughout History

A look at some of the most notable moms in history

When Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official Mother’s Day in 1914, it wasn’t just about celebrating the work moms do every day, but celebrating moms past, present and future. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most famous maternal figures in history.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery just north of New York City. Sojourner managed to escape with her infant daughter Sophia in 1826, but not with her other children. After the emancipation of slaves in New York was completed in 1827, Sojourner found out that her son, Peter, had been sold in Alabama. Since it was illegal at the time to sell slaves out of state, Sojourner raised the funds for a legal battle and managed to rescue her son in 1828 – making her one of the first African-American women to go against a white man in court and win.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams was the wife of second President of the United States, John Adams, and mother of the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. But don’t think that Abigail was deferential to her husband and son just because of their presidential titles. Even though she didn’t receive a formal education, Abigail was a brilliant woman who was a trusted advisor to both Presidents. Biographers even said that she could quote famous literature more readily than her husband John. And while he was away on long trips for work, Abigail stayed at home tending to both their farm and their children (of which they had 6).

Maria von Trapp

You’ve probably heard about Maria von Trapp if you’ve seen this little film called The Sound of Music. While she may not have traipsed across the Alps in real life, she did help her new family escape the Nazis. Maria was born in Vienna, Austria and later in life she entered a Benedictine monastery, hoping to one day become a nun. While in training she also taught local children and she soon met the children of Naval Commander George von Trapp, a widower. He saw how much she meant to his children and asked her to marry him so that she could be their second mother. In the 1930s they became a touring singing act, but with the rise of the Nazi regime, she managed to help her husband and children escape into Italy and then the United States.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Princess Diana was not your typical mother. As the world saw her grow from a normal young British girl into the Lady Di, she did things her way and gained popularity for her public image of charm and kindness. Royal life did not break her from her persistent charitable efforts, or from raising her two sons, William and Harry, in an unconventional royal fashion. When she wasn't executing her duties she was beside her children at all times, refusing the traditional royal nannies and boarding schools, and was determined to show them a life outside the palace walls. Even after her divorce, Diana lived a life dedicated to being “The People’s Princess,” and inspired her children to carry on her legacy of civil service and caring parenthood.

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