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Clara Barton

(December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912)

Mostly noted for her role as founder of the “American Red Cross” in 1881, Clara Barton was a teacher and a nurse. Clara’s interest in nursing likely developed at the age of 11, when she nursed her brother David for two years after he fell from a barn. During the American Civil War, Clara established a relief program for soldiers, designed to distribute supplies to the wounded. In April 1862, General William Hammond provided Clara with a pass allowing her to ride in army ambulances. Later that same year, Barton was given permission to be allowed onto the battlefields with medical supplies in order to nurse the wounded. General Benjamin Butler of the Union Army appointed Burton the “lady in charge” of hospitals located at the front in 1864. Barton was placed in charge of searching for the missing men of the Union Army in 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln. After the war, she gave a number of speeches and lectures about her experiences in the war.

She became a women’s rights activist and an abolitionist. At the suggestion of her doctors, Barton travelled to Europe in 1968 for a much needed rest from her wartime activities. In 1870, she became involved once again in relief efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. Upon returning to the United States, she began efforts in 1873 to get the International Committee of the Red Cross to be recognized by the United States government. Because at that time most felt that America would never again face another war like the Civil War, Burton expanded the works of the Red Cross to respond in any national disaster. President James Garfield granted the recognition, and the American Red Cross was founded on May 21, 1881 with Clara Barton as President.

Copyright 2009