THE RED CROSS
I. CLARA BARTON
 IN 1861, when the Civil War began, there was a clerk in
the patent Office at Washington whose name was Clara
She was then about thirty years of age, well educated,
refined in manner, intensely energetic. She had been
in the Patent Office seven years. Previous to that
time she had been a school-teacher. Stories are still
current of her wonderful success in school management.
Those were the days when the public schools were but
little esteemed, and methods of education were not such
as we have now. It is said that when Miss Barton
assumed charge of a certain school in New Jersey there
were but six pupils in attendance; but such was her
genius and such the magnetism of her presence that the
number increased within a few months to nearly six
One might think that such success would have
 made her a school-teacher for life. But this was not
The war began.
Clara Barton read President Lincoln's proclamation
calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers to fight
for the preservation of the Union.
She gave up her position in the Patent Office, and
volunteered—volunteered as a nurse without pay in
the Army of the Potomac. Her work was not in safe and
quiet hospitals far from the sound of danger; it was on
the battlefield rescuing and nursing the wounded while
yet the carnage and the strife were there.
It surely required a brave heart to pass through the
horrors that followed the struggles at Pittsburg
Landing, at Cedar Mountain, at Antietam, and at old
Fredericksburg. Very heroic must have been the women
who faced those dreadful scenes with only the one
thought to give relief to the wounded and the dying.
Toward the close of the war, Clara Barton was appointed
"lady in charge" of all the hospitals at the front of
the Army of the James—a worthy and well-earned
 Then there came inquiries concerning soldiers whose
whereabouts were unknown. Their friends wrote to ask
about them. Were they living or dead? If alive, where
were they? If dead, when and how did they die? There
were thousands of such inquiries, and no one could
It occurred to President Lincoln to appoint some
competent person to conduct a search for all such
missing men, to learn their history, if possible, and
to place that history on record.
Who was more competent for such a duty than Clara
At the request of President Lincoln, then very near the
end of his career, she undertook the task. With all
her great energy and her habits of thoroughness, she
carried it through. It was a work of months, taxing
all her strength, and requiring the closest
application. In the end she was able to report the
names and the fate of more than thirty thousand missing
men of the Union armies.
Is there any wonder that her health was broken? The
years of constant labor, the weight of great
responsibilities, had told sadly upon her strength.
 When her work was finished, then came the re-action.
For days and weeks she was obliged to refrain from
every sort of labor. She went to Europe. She spent
the next few years in Switzerland, trying to regain her
II. ORGANIZATION OF THE RED CROSS
IT was on a midsummer day in 1859 that a great battle was
fought at Solferino in the north of Italy. There the
Austrian army was defeated by the combined forces of
France and Sardinia. At the end of the bloody struggle
more than thirty-five thousand men lay dead or disabled
on the field of battle. There was no adequate aid at
hand for the suffering and the dying. For hours and
even days they lay uncared for where they had fallen.
It was the old, old story of the barbaric cruelty of
While the battlefield was still reeking with horrors it
was visited by Henri Dunant, a gentleman of means from
Switzerland. His heart was touched at the sight of the
suffering that was around him. He gave every
assistance that he could; he aided the few surgeons who
were on the field, and was
 instrumental in saving many a wounded man from death.
When he returned home, he could not forget what he had
seen. A vision of the battlefield was ever in his
mind. He could not rest until he had written the story
of the field of Solferino, and had tried to make others
understand the horrors which he had witnessed. He
delivered lectures and issued circulars, calling upon
the good people of all nations to untie in forming a
world's society for the care of disabled soldiers on
the field of battle.
The work of Henri Dunant led to great results. A
world's society was formed. A conference was held at
Geneva. Eleven nations agreed to do a plan which
recognized this society and its work. Its members, its
helpers, its hospitals, and the sick and wounded under
its care should be free from molestation on the
battlefield; and each of the eleven governments pledged
its active aid and support.
In order that the workers of the society should be
known when in posts of danger, and in order that its
hospitals and all their belongings should
 be protected, it was found necessary to adopt a badge
that should be universally known. The badge chosen was
a red cross on white ground. It was adopted in
compliment to the Swiss government, whose flag is a
white cross on red ground.
Thus it was that upon "the wild stock and stem of war"
a noble philanthropy was engrafted. Thus it was that
the movement was inaugurated which "gives hope," says
Clara Barton, "that the very torrent, tempest, and
whirlwind of war itself may some day at last (far off,
perhaps) give way to the sunny and pleasant days of
perpetual and universal peace."
It was while seeking health in Switzerland that Miss
Barton first became fully acquainted with the objects
and the work of the Red Cross. She met and formed
friendships with the leaders of that movement. She
resolved to give her energies and her life to its
III. MISS BARTON IN FRANCE
AT the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Clara
Barton was still in Europe. She
 at once threw herself into the work of the Red Cross in
the campus and on the battlefields of that war. Her
long experience as a nurse with our own armies gave her
a great advantage in the management of hospitals and
the care of the sick. During the course of that short
but bitter struggle, no person did more good than she,
no person deserved or won nobler laurels of praise.
After the siege of Strasburg twenty thousand people
were without homes; they were without employment;
starvation was before them. Clara Barton saw the
situation and was the first to act. She provided
materials for thirty thousand garments, and parceled
these out among the poor women of the city to be sewed
and made at good wages. Everywhere her quick eye saw
what was needed most, and her quick intelligence showed
what was best to be done. Everywhere officers and
civilians, the rich and the poor, acknowledged her good
work and lent a helping hand.
In Paris after the close of the war the lawless Commune
seized the power. The city was in the hands of men of
the lowest character. It was besieged by the army of
the republic. The thunder of
 the cannon was heard day and night. There was constant
fighting on the streets. Scores of innocent people
were shot down or put to death. In some parts of the
city not one person was to be found in his home, so
great was the terror and so general the destruction.
In the midst of all these horrors, Clara Barton entered
the city on foot and began her work of ministering to
those in distress.
CLARA BARTON ENTERED THE CITY ON FOOT.
Among the common people there was but little food.
Women and children were starving. On a certain day a
great mob surged through the streets crying for bread.
The officers were powerless. There was no telling what
such a mob would do. Clara Barton stood at the door of
her lodgings; she raised her hand and spoke to the
infuriated men and the despairing women. They paused
and listened to her calm and helpful words. "Oh, mon
Dieu!" they cried. "It is an angel that speaks to us."
And they quietly dispersed to their homes.
"What France must have been without the merciful help
of the Red Cross societies, the imagination dare not
picture. At the end of the war ten thousand wounded
men were removed from
 Paris under the auspices of the relief
societies—men who otherwise must have lingered in
agony or died from want of care; and there were brought
back to French soil nine thousand men who had been
cared for in German hospitals."
In recognition of the golden deeds which she had
performed in this war, Clara Barton received as
decorations of honor the golden cross of Baden and the
iron cross of Germany.
IV. THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
AS yet there was no Red Cross society in American. It
there fore became the work of Miss Barton for the next
few years to found such a society. It was not until
1882 that the United States joined the family of
nations which at Geneva, eighteen years before, had
pledged their support to this movement in behalf of
The plan for an American society included much more
than merely the relief of wounded soldiers. Miss
Barton's experiences in Strasburg and in Paris had
shown the need and the possibility of wider usefulness.
And so the work of the Red Cross Association of America
was to relieve suffering
 wherever it was found, and especially during great
calamities, such as famine, pestilence, earthquake
disaster, flood, or fire.
Before a month had passed the first call for help was
sounded. A great fire was sweeping through the forests
of Michigan. For many days it raged unchecked. Homes
were destroyed, farms were burned over, every living
thing was swept away by the devastating flames,
thousands of people were in dire need of food,
clothing, and shelter.
The Red Cross Association was little prepared to meet
so great a calamity, but under the direction of its
president, Clara Barton, it began at once to do what it
could. The white banner with its red cross was
unfurled here for the first time. The call for aid was
quickly responded to. Men, women, and children
hastened to bring their gifts of sympathy and human
kindness to be distributed by the society. Eighty
thousand dollars in money, food, clothing, and other
needful things were forwarded to the suffering people
After that there were calls for help almost every year.
There were great floods along the Ohio and Mississippi
rivers. Charleston, South Carolina, was
 partly destroyed by an earthquake. There were fearful
cyclones in the West, causing much destruction of life
and property. Wherever there was suffering from any of
these causes, Clara Barton with the Red Cross was
present to give relief and assistance.
In 1885 and 1886 there was a great drought in Texas.
For eighteen months no rain fell. No crops could be
raised. Hundreds of thousands of cattle died for lack
of forage and water. Thousands of people were in want
of the comforts of life. Through the labors of the Red
Cross Association and its president, more than a
hundred thousand dollars were contributed for the
relief of the distressed.
On the 30th of May, 1889, the city of Johnstown,
Pennsylvania, was overwhelmed by a flood caused by the
breaking of a dam in the Little Conemaugh River.
Nearly five thousand lives were lost, and property to
the value of twelve million dollars was destroyed.
Scarcely had the first news of the disaster been
telegraphed over the country before Clara Barton was on
the ground doing the good work of the Red Cross. For
five months she remained there amid scenes of
desolation, poverty, and woe, which no pen can
 She fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, comforted
the sorrowing, was a ministering angel to the sick, the
impoverished, and the despairing. "the first to come,
the last to go," said one of the newspapers of
Johnstown, "she has indeed been an elder sister to
us—nursing, soothing, tending, caring for the
stricken ones through a season of distress such as no
other people ever knew—such as, God grant, no
other people may ever know. The idea crystallized, put
into practice: "Do unto others as you would have
others do unto you.' "
In 1893 occurred the great hurricane in the Sea Islands
off the coast of South Carolina. It was a calamity
second only to that of Johnstown, and the number of
persons who perished will never be known. There, among
black people of the poorest and most ignorant class,
Miss Barton labored unceasingly for months. She
distributed weekly rations of food to thirty thousand
Sea Islanders. She gave them materials for clothing
and taught them how to make these into garments. She
encouraged them in the rebuilding of their homes. She
directed the digging of more than two hundred miles of
ditches, thus reclaiming thousands of acres
 of land. She distributed garden seeds to every
householder on the islands, besides seed corn and grain
to the farmers. Within nine months, under the
supervision of the Red Cross, industry and prosperity
were restored and the poor blacks were enabled to
become self-supporting and independent. Is it any
wonder that they revered the name of the woman who
brought them so much comfort and happiness, and that to
this day they name their girls "Clara Barton" and their
boys "Red Cross"?
The work of the Red Cross was transferred to other
places and other peoples. In Armenia after the Turkish
massacres, in Cuba during the Spanish Was, in every
place cursed by war or afflicted with some great
calamity, there was found the Red Cross, doing its
V. THE NATIONAL RED CROSS
AS yet the American Association of the Red Cross had but
few members and its work was much hampered through the
lack of funds and systematic management. In 1893 it
was reorganized as the American National Red Cross, but
not until twelve years later did its membership exceed
three hundred persons.
 When the war with Spain began, a number of helping Red
Cross societies sprang into existence, each to some
extent independent of the national association. This
division of management led to much confusion, which
resulted in a large amount of unnecessary suffering
among the sick and wounded. It frequently happened
that in once place there was an over-abundance of
supplies, while in another there were none at all. Too
many articles of one kind were provided, and too few or
perhaps none of another. Nevertheless, despite all
these unfortunate circumstances, the Red Cross was
instrumental in saving many lives and in relieving much
"And yet, with proper management, it might have done a
great deal more," said many thinking people.
Therefore, in 1900, the society was incorporated by Act
of congress and placed under the supervision of the
government. From that time forward it was to be
controlled by a central committee composed of eighteen
members, six of whom were to be appointed by the
President. The association is now required to report
to the War Department on the first day of each year,
giving a full account of all its
 work. A new charter was granted to it in 1905, and the
Secretary of War, William H. Taft, was elected
president of the association.
Since its reorganization the work of the Red Cross has
been much extended and its efficiency very greatly
increased. For the sufferers in the Japanese famine,
it contributed nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
For those rendered homeless by the eruption of Mount
Vesuvius in 1905, it gave over twelve thousand dollars.
For those who suffered in the great earthquake in
California in 1906, it collected and distributed more
than three million dollars. Substantial aid was also
sent to chili for those made destitute by the
earthquake at Valparaiso, and to China and Russia for
the relief of sufferers from the great famines in those
And thus the work of this noble association, founded
through the efforts of one heroic woman, continues.
Wherever there is great distress or widespread
suffering, wherever there is famine, or earthquake, or
war, there the National Red Cross, like an angel of
mercy, stands ready to relieve, assist, and bless.
Perhaps no other organization has ever done so much for
the relief of suffering humanity.
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