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Clara Barton Founds the American Red Cross: May 21, 1881

Fold3 Image - Clara Barton
On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton held the first meeting of the American Red Cross after years of campaigning for the American government’s acceptance of the organization.

Barton had risen to fame for her humanitarian work during the Civil War. Previously a teacher and patent clerk, during the war Barton had—among other contributions—distributed medical supplies and nursed soldiers independently of any organization. Immediately following the war, she had spearheaded an effort to locate tens of thousands of missing soldiers, including helping to identify the thousands of bodies buried at the brutal Confederate Andersonville Prison. While on the lecture circuit to discuss her experiences, Barton—then in her late 40s—began to suffer from poor health, so on a doctor’s suggestion, she traveled to Europe in 1869 to rest.

While in Europe, Barton was introduced to the International Red Cross and got to see the organization in action during the Franco-Prussian War, which occurred while she was in Europe. She helped the International Red Cross with its humanitarian mission during the conflict and decided to create an American branch when she returned home.

Before America could join the International Red Cross, however, it had to sign the First (1864) Geneva Convention, which set up rules governing the protection and neutrality of civilian aid workers during wartime, among other things. America had previously declined to sign the Convention, and Barton had a long road ahead of her as she first battled her own illnesses and then worked for years to gain acceptance for the Convention and the Red Cross in the United States.

Fold3 Image - Organization of the Red Cross in America
Finally, under the administration of President Chester A. Arthur, the First Geneva Convention was ratified in 1882. However, in anticipation of that, Barton had held the first meeting of the American Red Cross a year prior, in May 1881. Part of what led to the acceptance of the Red Cross in America were Barton’s efforts to show that the organization could contribute during peacetime, as well as wartime, by providing relief following natural disasters. During Barton’s time as president of the Red Cross, she headed 18 relief efforts around the country and abroad.

Barton remained president of the American Red Cross until 1904, when she resigned at age 82 amid increasing criticism of her leadership methods and handling of money. She would go on to live another eight years, during which time she founded an organization that taught first aid.

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85 Comments

  1. Clara Barton, like so many other women in history, have been omitted from articles like this one. I want to thank you for sharing with us today.

    • Gender politics aside, Barton made significant contributions to medicine, nursing and disaster relief. I also remember that Barton provided critical nursing assistance during that horrific fight along the Antietam in 1862. Truly Clara Barton was an Angel of the Battlefield.

    • I would appreciate examples of the many other women of Barton’s stature omitted from military history articles. Even better, a list would be very much appreciated. I would love to know more about them.

  2. One of the first disasters that the newly formed Red Cross helped with was the Sep 1881 Forest fire that swept across Michigan’s Thumb area. My grandfather was just 3 years old then, and family lore has it that he and my great-grandmother were among those who took shelter in the Courthouse in Bad Axe while the fire destroyed every wooden building in town. One of the first biographies I read as a child was one on Clara Barton. In fact, it was one of the first books that I got (other than baby and toddler books). Thank you for this article.

    • At least a half dozen southern women preceded Barton in the war of northern aggression they too were independent of their government. Interestingly Barton didn’t tackle the starvation deaths at Chicago POW Camp Douglas where well over 2000 southern men were starved to death by union commanders. Or the thousands of southern men who froze to death at the union POW camp in Elmira NY

    • I am a volunteer for the Red Cross in Allegan Country and am very interested in the history of Red Cross. I would like to know of books or papers that may have more on the fire in the thumb and the Red Cross’ involvement.
      Thank you

  3. She also did not address any of the issues of the prison camps the held Confederate soldiers or identifying Confederate soldiers who died in battle. I have sent years searching for burial sites of some of my Confederate ancestors. My Union ancestors have been easy to find. By the way no one ever mentions the “brutal” prisons that held Confederate soldiers. Some have been mentioned above and I will add Point Lookout.

    • MY GREAT GREAT UNCLE DIED AT ANDERSON PRISON OF STARVATION..
      YES, FAMILY ALL OVER LOST LOVED ONES. ITS A SHAME BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER HAD TO FIGHT ONE ANOTHER. I HOPE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN IN THE UNITED STATES!

  4. Let us not dwell on what this courageous woman did not do…Consider the times and the fact that women were not considered equal to men and did not have the vote. Her attributes are considerable in her time and even now, I consider her formidable.

  5. Clara Barton was neither a southerner nor a northerner. The atrocities of the Civil war were those of man not blue or gray. Let us remember that we are The United States and are strong in that union and must stay that way to defeat common foes. Let the name of Clara Barton as well as that of the American Red Cross be known for what is the best of humanity, not the worst.

    • Amen. I, too, have searched for the final resting places of Confederate relatives or even an accounting of their deaths. Clara Barton was just one woman; not superwoman. Both North and South were responsible for crimes against humanity.

    • Excellent response! Goodness and evil do not wear colors, they are displayed in the actions of humanity.

    • Amen to that!!!

    • At last someone talking sense!!

  6. Michael, Good for you! Get the truth out.

    • I am rather tired of politicizing each and everything that begins as a positive. Nothing is untainted. Nothing is perfect. Lets celebrate every good thing and restore the power of Good in the world. Good has power, not negativity.

  7. Thank you for the wonderful article on Clara Barton. Excellent response Nancy and April Gridley. So far in my Ancestry search I have only found Confederate soldiers but I also found American Revolutionary War soldiers and ancestors to the Jamestown settlement. I stand in awe of the incredible accomplishments sacrifices and hardships they suffered to bring us to this day. We must not waste their contributions or fall into silly blind hatred for a faceless enemy, but rather stand together to fight the real and obvious dangers to our United States today. I am proud to be a retired American Red Cross Nurse. Thank you Clara Barton.

    • I like your comment!

    • Thank you Linda,
      We must all look at events as this with your point of view. It was our Histiry, our ancestors & times were different. The younger generation, on average don’t even know the truth or even the whole story behind so much of this
      Country & the sacrifices made.
      My ancestors came from Va./ WVa. There were brother against Brother, Nephew against Uncle. Yet, they would write home inquiring about the well-
      being of the other. Can you imagine how hard that would be. All of us live on their courage!

    • Amen

  8. I am a former Red Cross volunteer at NRMC Camp Pendleton cA in the early 1970s. I also served as transport to the media at the camp set up for refugees at Camp Pendleton after the 1975 fall of Saigon. My mother sponsored a girl and her daughter I was assigned to help, and as a result, also sponsored 6 Vietnamese pilots who were trained at Hunter in Savannah. I couldn’t do anything past my few weeks work, as I was moving to Japan with my military husband. Clara Barton could only go so far in the days when women were treated like servants when they volunteered to help. She was the best person she could be for those times, and we owe her a great deal. The Red Cross loaned me money to go home from Japan to attend my mother’s funeral in 1976. And I have friends who are retired nurses and they still go to all kinds of relief work all over the globe. Know of what you speak before you tear her apart. Look what she left us!

  9. Not only was Clara Barton the founder of the American red Cross, she also was the founder of one of the earliest FREE public schools in NJ, if not the nation. You can get a flavor for this by checking out this link: http://clarabartonschoolhouse.blogspot.com/

    Of course, there will be many other links on this same subject. Suffice to say that Clara had the children and the humanity of the soldiers in mind — not the politic posturing — while teaching and aiding the suffering!

  10. For those folks searching for ancestors, one way to get professional genealogical help is to call the National Genealogical Society toll free: 800-473-0060 and ask about a professional genealogist to help you. There are lots of databases and sources even for Confederate soldiers that you might not be aware of. I just attended their national conference in Florida and as a newbie I was really amazed at what is out there.

  11. THERE ARE SO MANY BIRTH DATES AND DEATH DATES FOR THIS WOMAN. DOES ANYONE HAVE A REAL ONE?

    • From a Washington Post obituary, it would appear that her date of death was April 12, 1912. The date of publication was April 13, 1912.

    • From the Summary given on Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton, her birth date was December 25, 1821.

  12. Corra Bacon Foster (1848-1918) wrote a history book of the Red Cross Society and its founder, Clara Barton. I came about this information in my family research of the Foster family. Corra was the second wife of James Edward Foster, the step-father of my great grandfather. .

  13. While Andersonville was horrible, the Southern soldiers on duty there suffered as much as the prisoners. In the north at places such as Elmyra ansd Camp Douglas, Sounthen soldiers were allowed to die of starvfation and disease while the northern guards were well-fed and healthy. Tell me which one was brutal.

    • And now, more than150 years later the hate and the hurt go on. Our only salvation is that we do find unity in our country. We shall not repeat the horrendous mistakes of the past. The men of Andersonville, and Elmira are gone. Let us concentrate on the present and the lives and liberties of the citizens of these UNITED States.

  14. How can sympathizers of the traitorous Southern Rebellion whine about POW camps when the south openly rebelled to protect slavery ?

    • To amb 1st, I am a Southerner and descendant of soldiers of the Confederacy, War of 1812 and Rev. War. Slavery was a terrible blight on our country but so were the way the Irish and other poor immigrant workers were treated in Northern factories, especially the children. That said, many Southerners were descendants of those who fought for independence from England and felt their states had a right to secede from the Union since they had freely joined but no longer felt aligned with the North. The War was more complicated than eradi-
      caring “slavery,” although most of the other issues were generally related. We do not believe in slavery today but we still respect and honor our men and women who fought bravely for what they felt was right for their states.

    • You know it’s sad ….the open rebellion you speak of was in defense of the Constitution of the U.S. that guaranteed the right to slave ownership….it’s always the supposed winners writing the record…..let me tell you slavery had nothing to do with our civil war….ABRAHAM LINCOLN DID NOT EVEN APEAR ON THE BALLOT IN SOUTH CAROLINA….SO WE HAD NO COUNTRY AFTER THE ELECTION OF 1860..LET ALONE PRESIDENT!…SOUND FAMILIAR??? LOOK AROUND YOU ….THE VERY SAME MESS….2016 PRESIDENTAL ELECTION?….ANOTHER YOU AIN’T NEVER SEEN NOTHIN LIKE…was you in CAROLINA DEC. 20TH 1860? Think before you condemned another!

  15. I recently created a feature about Clara Barton on my website, from numerous sources. The first page covers her life from birth and her ancestry, through 1897. The second page is mostly about her time in Tampa and work during the Spanish American War. See http://www.tampapix.com/barton.htm.

    • DAN,
      THANK YOU FOR YOUR WONDERFUL INFORMATION! I LOVED READING THE ARTICLE…I DID SAVE IT..
      SANDY LONGENBACH

  16. WALTER H.
    THANKS FOR YOUR REPLY..SEE WHAT I MEAN. I FIND THIS MORE OFTEN THEN NOT IN ALL MY ANCESTRY SEARCHES..OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS THAT HAVE DIFFERENT DATES..SOCIAL SECURITY, DEATH RECORDS, CHURCH RECORDS..UGH…LIKE PUTTING PUZZLES TOGETHER…I HATE PUZZLES. I LOOK AT IT LIKE A MYSTERY..WHICH IT IS! THAT WAY I CAN DEAL WITH IT…
    LOL
    SANDY

  17. After the War Clara established the Missing Soldiers Office. Read the history of the discovery of the location by GSA; its restoration with the help of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and others. The museum is now open to the public.
    some original documents may also be found on this website.

    http://www.clarabartonmuseum.org/

  18. The Civil War never ended. Republicans took over the attitude of the vanquished South. Walmart reinstated slavery. Neither side is without fault, the South dared the North to invade by firing on Sumter, we obliged. Neither side was prepared for any injuries or death in that no hospitals were near or available. No-one was prepared for prisoners of war, there were no buildings set up for that immense number of men, and no food distribution network. The war was not expected to last beyond 30 days. We can only be grateful there was some sense of humanity alive in people such as Clara Barton in the Civil War or it may never have ended. Had John Wilkes Booth not killed Abraham Lincoln, the South would have been healed more peacefully. Instead Douglas made sure the South knew they lost and dragged out a corrupt reconstruction that inspired hatred that boiled up into the 60s a century later. The killing may have subsided but the Civil War is still alive. One of my uncles marched with Sherman to the sea. My grandfather was a Navy Blockade.

    • Liked your comments, Larry. As a Southerner I would have to say
      the South should never have con-
      sidered putting a largely agrarian society up against an industrialized
      one. There were blow harts on both sides who pushed for war. Maybe
      it could have been avoided if the North had guaranteed a certain amt of reparations for each slave to be freed as many Southerners did not own slaves or only had a few to help with house and field work. The big planta-tion owners would have resisted, of course, because slaves represented a large portion of their accumulation of wealth. The North, on the other hand,
      had virtual slaves in that they paid low wages and worked the poor and incoming immigrants long hours in unsafe working conditions and the workers went home to slums at night without the northern owners having any money invested in them or their health. However, Southerners were a stubborn lot and probably wouldn’t have agreed to any compromise. They held on as long as they did due to that stubbornness, outstanding military leaders and the strength of the women at home. You can’t ever underestimate the strength of a “steel magnolia.” Lol.

    • Hi Cheryl, In hindsight the South was amazing for the leadership they had without which they would never have made it as far or as long. The North only survived as long as we did because we had more men to lose. If the North had had Generals Grant and Sherman from the start, it likely would have ended far sooner. I don’t believe slavery could have ended without Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. There were too many people on both sides who would not take a stand. If not for Lincoln, what would America have become? In the South it was difficult to even have a job as everything was done by slaves. The North created Unions to combat poor working conditions. But, indeed the North and South were generations apart from ending slavery, it had to be fought. Yes there was a lot of stubbornness on both sides, women held the family together and sometimes even lived with the soldiers. A relative of mine Marriett lived in Wisconsin and her husband John joined the 21st Wisconsin in Sept 1862, in October he was transported to Ohio where he walked to Perryville, Kentucky where he was killed by friendly fire and buried in a mass grave. Marriett would have something to say about steel magnolias. She never saw John again, and raised her 3 children without benefit of welfare–nothing existed. It took the War Dept 5 years before they awarded her $2.50 per month per child to help feed the children. I’m writing Marriett’s story. My Great-Great-Grandmother was personal spiritualist to the Lincolns. Henrietta Colborn. It is a small world still.

  19. As some one living at the other end of the world it seems to me that the Civil has not ended from what I have read. I suggest that you get over it, be grateful for the sacrifices both side have made and get on with your lives in the great country in which you live.

  20. Hi, Julie. It may seem most of us are not “over” the War but actually we are. There are still enough of us living who grew up hearing from our grand-
    parents stories about things that happened to relatives during that time. Today it is more of interest from a his-
    torical and genealogical perspective, particularly maybe in the South, because most of the battles were fought here and there are parks, markers and statues which mark sites. We are blessed that the Union was preserved, slavery was abolished and we have maintained our democracy.

    • We are rare, Cheryl and I in that we understand the Civil War had a purpose, yes- there was much collateral damage. But when people refuse to listen, refuse to comprehend, cannot see beyond themselves for lack of education these things occur. Most people will argue the North caused it, the South caused it, the North was wrong, the South was right…I bear no ill to the South, they defended what they thought was right at the time. The North wanted to maintain the Union. Lincoln knew what had to be done. For people to look back in awe that we as a nation survived, and hopefully most of us understand this was about human rights not Southern rights. Yes the Civil War is over, but many cannot let it go. Cheryl, you are one of the few admitted southerners who did not immediately announce your dislike of Lincoln, most Southerners won’t even acknowledge he was president. The Civil War needs to heal, acceptance of history is a good first step.

    • Although I don’t live in the USA my great great great grandfather died in the Civil war leaving a widow and five young children. The war was 200 years ago, surely by now the war should be confined to the history books and hopefully people will learn from it the futility of war although I doubt it.I am sure that the men who died, no matter which side they were on would be horrified to know that there is still some bitterness about it. It is history and nothing we say is going to change what happened.

    • Larry, thanks for your comments. I’ve always accepted that Lincoln was an exceptional person whose intelligence and determination led him to the presidency and I think the South would have fared much better had he lived. I think his Gettysburg Address is one of the most moving writings I’ve ever read. However, dont get me started on Gen. Sherman and his army. As for healing, we could use some of that right now as some people seem to have forgotten how to keep a civil and respectful tone when discussing issues that concern our country.

  21. Julie, Cheryl, it’s clear we are all descendants of the Civil War and expect it to be buried in Historical Books at this point. In fact, it’s likely we could all be related as my family was Massachusetts colonial 1639. What’s most troubling as Cheryl brought up is the expansion of Hate Groups, Nationalism, Secession Talk, Skin Heads, Isolationism, Civil War Symbols & Flags, Significance and Worship of Civil War Idols—appears the Civil War is clearly alive and angry still in the deep South. The most positive thing to occur was South Carolina taking down the Rebel Flag–these are things the South must do to heal itself. But until the South begins to address the anger and hatred that supports what the Civil War stood for, it will never die.

    • Larry, if you do genealogy research on Ancestry.com, I have a number of family trees at various stages I am working on. If you have any Perkins in your family look under John Perkins of Ipswich, MA, Puritans, who came into Boston around early 1630’s and helped settle Ipswich, MA. Some then went to New Hampshire and finally Maryland where they were living during the War. It was a smaller world back then so we could be distant cousins. If you see any connections I go by BirthtoBirth for message purposes.

    • Hi Larry, Cheryl and Julie. Although I began reading this article as it related to Clara Barton, I have continued to read your commentaries with great interest.
      I am a Canadian so I don’t share the same personal baggage regarding the Civil War. Despite this, from the passionate comments left here today so many years later it is easy to see how it ripped the country apart from top to bottom. It changed so many lives, it only seems natural that feelings about it are still quite raw.

      My own paternal family roots run deep to the early 1700s in Colonial America. The Revolutionary War tore my family apart. Some brothers chose to fight in New York’s Hudson Valley with the Rebel army while others, including my direct ancestor chose to remain loyal to the British. As a mother, I can’t even imagine how heartbroken their mother must have been to see her family pulled apart by conflict. My ancestors had to flee to a refugee camp just across the border in Upper Canada when the Rebellion was won. They would never see their family, or their country again. Despite choosing sides, that decision must have haunted them.

      War brings about atrocities and tears families apart, regardless of the century they happen in. I appreciated your thoughtful, measured comments and your very personal responses on a subject I only know from history books.

      I believe that talking openly can help heal old wounds and open channels of communication and understanding. War is an unending pattern of pain and destruction. If we don’t look back at what went wrong in the past, we can never look forward and protect our future from similar catastrophes.

    • Lisa, thank you for your comments. You have a very interesting family history. Separation of families is always very sad to me. I have often thought about all the people who immigrated to America and how they could leave their homes knowing they probably would never see again the loved ones they were leaving behind. How badly the ones they left behind must have felt as well and knowing very little about what their loved ones would have to deal with once they arrived in this new wild land. I have a lot of compassion and concern for all of the refugees in the world today who have had to leave their homes and families and try to carry their children to safer countries under dangerous conditions. Our world is certainly in a mess!

    • Hi Lisa, We understand the war, we also understand those wounds run deep and have festered until now, spilling over into our political ideologies. I believe most of the people here can talk about the war without raising their blood pressure. The article was really about Clarissa Barton after seeing how horrid a war could break out with neither side prepared for any potential fallout, injuries, widows, deaths, burials. She and others took it upon themselves to make some small attempt to stem the flow of blood. She was so focused she used her life to bring about the Red Cross to America’s shores. For all practical purposes it was a benefit to all who are hit by tornadoes and floods every year. If Clara were still in charge I don’t imagine the CEO would be limousine driven. It sounds like you as well as all of us are Colonial American. I have relatives spread out all over the US and Canada for the same reason as you. They didn’t necessarily choose sides, though some did. But I have as many relatives who chose sides in the Revolution as those who left to avoid the draft in the Civil War. Canada seems to have been a more passive welcoming Nation, while America has a much more aggressive stand. My direct line is from George Puffer who came to Massachusetts in 1639, there are several hundred Puffers in Canada as well as 1000 more in the US all related to George. In fact I’m writing a book about a woman whose husband died in the Civil War. When I traced her back to Summerville Canada born in 1833, I discovered her family originally came from Massachusetts and was, in fact related to her husband distantly—who was born in New York himself. She became an American again and is buried in Wisconsin. Her husband was buried in a mass grave in Kentucky after his battle and she never saw him again. I also have Scottish relatives who stayed in Canada and Australia, while my Scot relatives moved here to Iowa. Lisa, welcome to your history- it’s all over North America.

    • Thanks Larry. My Scottish ancestors’ surname was Bayne, which I have traced back to the early 1200s – true Highlanders. Hugh Bayne came to New York in 1715 and eventually settled in Germantown, Columbia County. His surname changed to Bain, he married and had 13 children. His son John had a son John Isaac who was the Loyalist soldier I referred to in my direct bloodline. The surname seems to have been changed to Benn at the time of the Revolutionary War, likely due to the shift in loyalties within the family.
      My family is huge on both sides. I’m French Canadian on my mother’s side, descended from a Fille du Roi. Just untangling my direct lineage has been challenging and time consuming, so I haven’t fleshed out my family tree anything near as thoroughly as you have.
      When I have the chance to, it will likely turn out that we are related in some distant fashion somewhere along the line. I’m learning that most early colonists are, simply by way of numbers. I was adopted, so learning about my ancestors is absolutely fascinating to me. I love learning particularly about the women who forged lives in the early days of our countries. Just like Clara Barton, they were tough cookies. I’m sure they made mistakes too, but they did their best in what can only be called challenging, basic and often isolated conditions. I’m so proud to claim them as my own.

      If you’re on ancestry, feel free to check out my trees. They’re on ancestry.ca under the username LHarris1972. I’ve only made serious headway in the past 3 months but hey, have to start the search somewhere, right?

  22. Thank you to Michael for helping set the record straight about prison camps in the Civil War.

  23. Clara Barton was attending to a wounded soldier near the Corn Field at Antietam and a bullet went through her sleeve and killed the man. There is also a brick from her home in the base of a monument near the Puffenberger Farm on the Antietam Battlefield.

  24. HI Cheryl, I have 50K people in my tree. Oldest Perkins I have is Thomas Perkins born 1786 in Barnard, Vt. Son of Abner. I have many relatives in Ipswich, Ma—Adams, Abbott, Belcher, Chapman, Davis, Day, Fairchild, Symonds, WHipple …many. We are likely related, I have not posted to Ancestry yet. Planned to send it this year. My Family names are Puffer, Follett, Angell, Blackmer, Blackmore, Whipple,

    • Larry, You mentioned earlier that you had ancestors in Massachusetts as early as 1637. My earliest ancestor was Capt. Thomas Willetts in Plymouth Colony in 1632. My wife is a descendant iof John and Priscilla Alden. I am curious who your ancestor is.

  25. Hi Cousin. Capt Thomas Willett father of Mary born 11/10/1637 in Plymouth is related to me. Not exactly direct, He’s Third GreatGrandfather of Husband of First Great Grand Niece of wife of 7th Great Grand Uncle of me. My direct line began with George Puffer born 1600 England, arrived Braintree 1639. John Alden had a (grand)son who married a Puffer so I am related to him also by marriage. I followed Capt. Willett’s daughter Mary through marriage to Rev. Samuel Hooker and children several generations to 1844 when Fidelia Louise Hooker was born in NH, married into my family Sidney Winchester Puffer. When you’re Colonial, you’re family.

    • Indeed that does mean related even so distant. Just as a note Thomas Willett became the first and third Mayor of NY after it was taken by the British from the Dutch. Mary Willett’s father-in-law, the Rev’d Thomas Hooker, was the founder of Hartford. In my line the generation after them moved to NC fo some reason. Good to make contact. I did not mean to stir up the controversy on this thread, but I always, as an historian and Southerner, like to keep a balance and stop erroneous myths about the late unpleasantness.

  26. My mistake, John Alden’s Granddaughter Hannah Bass married Joseph Adams resulting in John Adams 2nd Cousin 4x removed of wife of 3rd great grand uncle of me. Also father of our President John Adams. My family is connected at least twice to Alden/Adams line. John Adams/ John Quincy Adams/ Samuel Adams.

  27. Hi James, Had the South thoughtfully realized we had more to live for and less to die for–for all those things we had been through to become One United States, the War would not have been so divisive. For those of us who remember history, our history, our shared history are not doomed to repeat it. Colonial Yankee from Minnesota.

  28. I know that the red cross is a shame, they took my grandmother for 5k back in the 50’s and tried to charge myself and my comrades in arms for cookies, little pack of cig’s all donated. they are a phony organization…….

    • You are talking about another space in time…they are a reputable organization now; have donated blood to them many times and they are the only organization in the world that allows people in disasters to survive while whatever government entity decides what to do… also helps people in immediate need i. e. house fires, etc.

    • John, I agree w/ you. My dad served in WW2 and the Red Cross SOLD him the cigarettes that had been donated. True they have done some good but also have made their share of mistakes.
      Donis

  29. My great-grandfather, Earl G. Harlow was caretaker of the Clara Barton birthplace during the 50’s so I had a first hand look at her history and all the stories from that museum. I loved going there and seeing how high her bed was and the real spinning wheel as well. So many years ago!

  30. It would have been have nice and historically correct to mention Dansville, NY where she lived when creating the Red Cross. That city has the honor of being the first chapter.

  31. When we had a devastating earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand, the Red Cross were about the first there to help and they also donated large amounts of money and goods to help the the victims. I have nothing but praise for them.

  32. I use to portray Clara Barton as a Civil War Reenactor. I did extensive research on this lady to be able to do that. There is so much more about Clarissa “Clara” Barton that is not here. I could write a book on this lady. Things such as she founded the first school in her town and it was then taken out of her hands by jealous men. She was the first women to work in any of the government offices at the time because they did not hire females. She stepped forward to wipe the blood from a soldiers eyes to keep it from running in his eyes while dozens stood around doing nothing. She gave up her job at the patent office because her boss told her she couldn’t tend to the wounded soldier’s. She would tear up her own slips and go without to make bandages for the soldiers. She never asked for a penny for herself.

  33. For all of those who have a criticism of what this woman did or did not do please detail for all of us the contributions you have made to your country or community that are comparable to hers so we will all know you are qualified to judge her or anything she did.
    We will wait for it.
    In the meantime, is it possible that as Americans we can ever be grateful to anyone who, in whatever way they could, tried to make this nation better, help people or contribute any good to society>

  34. Clara was 2nd cousin to my gg-grandfather, Percival Barton. It’s nice that this information is on fold3. I plan to print this for family, thank you

    • Hi Barb, I had not researched Clara Barton’s family until today and realized she is related to Rebecca Towne (Rebecca Nourse) hung in the Salem Witch Trials. I knew I had a connection to Rebecca Nourse, so I finished Clara Barton’s family tree in my history. It’s a long reach 5th cousin of husband of 2nd cousin 6 times removed, but everyone is connected. Trying to see if there are others connected.

    • I had heard that we had some kind of ancestor who was tried as a witch but I didn’t know what side of the family that was. Small world for sure

  35. I’ve often wondered if she is a distant relative as my maiden name was Barton

    • I could send you the information I have regarding her ancestry if you like

    • Hi Peggy, I have always wondered the same thing since my maiden name is also Barton. My paternal grandmother said we were related, but I don’t have any proof. My Barton family came from Baltimore, but I can’t seem to get further back than my 2nd great-grandfather.

    • I have Clara Barton’s pedigree if you’d like to know her direct line of ancestors

    • FYI: Bartons were my father’s maternal side. Clara was second cousin to his great grandfather, Percival. Clara never married and had no children. Her parents were Dr Stephen Barton & Dorothy Moore. Following the Barton side back: Stephen’s father was Edmund Barton (1715-1799, Farmington, MA) married Anna Flint. Edmund’s father was Samuel Barton (1664-1732), Samuel’s father was Matthew Barton of Salem, MA. Mathew’s father was Edward Barton who emigrated from England to Salem, MA in 1640- he died in 1671. Your ancestors are probably somewhere on that family tree. One of Edmunds sons, Flint (wife Lydia Crosby) had 12 sons. One of their sons, Alfred (Sarah Collins), had 12 children. They settled in Anson ME

  36. My great great grandfather William Mainwaring was a POW at the Andersonville prison. I likely would never have known about him had it not been for the efforts of Clara Barton to have these soldiers properly identified and buried. He along with thousands of POWs and confederate guards died there of dysentary during a drought.

    • Hi John Adams, I had a direct cousin died and buried there. Last I heard over 20,000 Union were starved to death. See the movie Andersonville–fairly accurate. None of the CW prisons North or South were humane.

  37. Thank you. I agree they were both brutal. My great great grandfather died there in Andersonville and the likely cause was dysentery. There was a severe drought and the water source was downstream from the latrine. Many confederate guards also died of dysentary. This prison is way off the beaten path in Ga but is very much worth the visit. The town itself has an obolisk describing the Southerners viewpoint. The commander, born in Switzerland, is the only confederate officer hung in Washington DC.

  38. I think Clara would be horrified if she knew the enormous salaries being paid to the top local & national officers of the Red Cross here in this country & the meager assistance given to fire victims. They are given 3 nights shelter at low-level motels, vouchers for meals for three days at fast-food restaurants, and vouchers for $100 per family member to purchase clothing at Walmart. I think the cost of the vouchers is being donated by the businesses providing them. I learned this when I stepped in to help families left wehomeless from fires in apartment complexes. It is the local community organizations & churches that provide the victims the support & help they really need. Please remember this when you hear of a local fire victim. You might just want to put that money you were going to donate to the Red Cross into an account that would be ready to give directly to a victim rather than pay for an executive’s $250,000 & up a year salary. Too many non-profits in America have been taken over by a greedy elite class and we have been funding their lavish lifestyles…..not helping the needy as we are led to believe. The best work being done in the name of the Red Cross is done by their selfless volunteers. Before donating to any organization, check out the salaries of their top executives. From the Red Cross to the Wounded Warriors, I think you will be appalled. Thanks to everyone who has posted here for all the history I have learned today. I will be sharing this with lots of youth.

    • Thank you for your information, Genie. I know the Red Cross does some very good work to help those in need but you are right about the salaries for the upper level employees of some of these organizations. I have used a site before called Charity Navigator to look up organizations to see what percentage of their donations actually go to the people they are supposed to be helping.

  39. Clara Barton must be the American face on the $20.00. She founded the American Red Cross 135 years ago May 21, 1881.

    On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton held the first meeting of the American Red Cross after years of campaigning for the American government’s acceptance of the organization.

    Barton had risen to fame for her humanitarian work during the Civil War. Previously a teacher and patent clerk, during the war Barton had—among other contributions—distributed medical supplies and nursed soldiers independently of any organization. Immediately following the war, she had spearheaded an effort to locate tens of thousands of missing soldiers, including helping to identify the thousands of bodies buried at the brutal Confederate Andersonville Prison. While on the lecture circuit to discuss her experiences, Barton—then in her late 40s—began to suffer from poor health, so on a doctor’s suggestion, she traveled to Europe in 1869 to rest.

    While in Europe, Barton was introduced to the International Red Cross and got to see the organization in action during the Franco-Prussian War, which occurred while she was in Europe. She helped the International Red Cross with its humanitarian mission during the conflict and decided to create an American branch when she returned home.

    Before America could join the International Red Cross, however, it had to sign the First (1864) Geneva Convention, which set up rules governing the protection and neutrality of civilian aid workers during wartime, among other things. America had previously declined to sign the Convention, and Barton had a long road ahead of her as she first battled her own illnesses and then worked for years to gain acceptance for the Convention and the Red Cross in the United States.

    Fold3 Image – Organization of the Red Cross in America
    Finally, under the administration of President Chester A. Arthur, the First Geneva Convention was ratified in 1882. However, in anticipation of that, Barton had held the first meeting of the American Red Cross a year prior, in May 1881. Part of what led to the acceptance of the Red Cross in America were Barton’s efforts to show that the organization could contribute during peacetime, as well as wartime, by providing relief following natural disasters. During Barton’s time as president of the Red Cross, she headed 18 relief efforts around the country and abroad.

    Barton remained president of the American Red Cross until 1904, when she resigned at age 82 amid increasing criticism of her leadership methods and handling of money. She would go on to live another eight years, during which time she founded an organization that taught first aid.

  40. I can’t believe the ignorance in so many posts here. “The war of northern aggression” never existed. The South started the war by firing on Fort Sumter – how is that northern aggression? Andersonville was worse than the Hitler’s concentration camps – Camp Douglas was not. Andersonville basically was an open toilet where the men got scurvy, typhus, and other diseases. The prison guards were fed and received medical care – despite what one poster said about their not being fed. Not true. The fact that anyone would post such a thing 150 years after the fact shows how deep ignorance runs. The Irish in the South fought on the British side during the Revolution and many of them went back to Ireland or down to mexico and Latin America after the Brits lost. The fact so many Americans don’t know their own history lets ignorant posters get away with their falsehoods.

    • Have you been to Andersonville? Are you giving a totally unbiased view of this history. You seem rather emotional to be unbiased. Therefore your assessment cannot be trusted.

    • It seems you do not know your history. Your arrogance is revolting.

  41. MS. MAGGIE
    A TERM (WAR OF NORTHERN AGRESSION) WAS A SOUTHERN WAY OF SAYIN CIVIL WAR..ALMOST FORGOT SO UNBEKNOWST TO YOU…THE FIRING ON SUMPTER? WAS OUR WAY OF TELLING ROBERT ANDERSON (UNION COMMANDER) TO GET OUT OF OUR’ CONTRY (S.C.)….AND “NO WAR TILL APRIL OF NEXT YEAR (1861)…FIRST BULL RUN. ..WAS THE FIRST CLASH….BUT IF YOU READ MANNASSAS. ..WELL THAT THE NORTHERN WAY OF TELLiN IT…SO CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL THAT AGRESSION S PREVOKED A FULL FLEDGED WAR…KEPT A STARVED ARMY VICTORIOUSLY IN THE FIELD FIVE YEAR WITH REALLYJUST ONE COMMANDER.ALSO DISPLAYLING SOME OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MILITARY LEADER SHIP THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN TO DATE. .IN FACT…ALL THOUGH AGGRESIVLY OPPOSED BY A MUCH LARGER FORCE WITH SEVEN (7) COMMAND CHANGES…AND HELP FROM THE RUSSIAN ZAR AND OTHERS…..I AM VERY PROUD OF MY SOUTHERN HERITAGE (THEY CALL THAT NATIONALISM NOW THOUGH)AND NOW HATE MY FLAG AS WELL….BUT I WONT BE OFF ENDED AGAIN…BE CAUSE SOMETIMES IGNORANCE IS BLISS…THE CONFEDERATES FLAG IS NOT REALLY THAT AT ALL….(150YRS) LATER ….NOW IS IT? TRUTH IS IT’S WHAT IT’S ALWAYS BEEN…SAINT ANDREWS CROSS! A SYMBOL OF CHRISTIANITY! TELL ME DID YOU KNOW THAT DEAR?