American History / Clara Barton

Clara Barton

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Autor:  anton  13 July 2010
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Clara Barton

By: Crystal Blesch

Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts on Christmas day in 1821. Clara was the youngest of five children and was home schooled. Her siblings were responsible for home studies. Clara's father Stephen Barton was a farmer and a horse breeder, while her mother Sarah was responsible for the house. Clara learned the value of cleanliness from her mother.

At either age 15 or 17 she started teaching school. Over the next six years Clara taught at several schools and then opened her own free public school in her hometown of North Oxford. When she was 29, Clara entered an advanced school for female teachers called the Liberal Institute in Clinton, NY. After a year of study, she accepted a teaching job in New Jersey. She founded another free public school in Bordentown, NJ, which grew to have more than 600 students. Clara was denied the position to head the school, and instead a man was hired. Clara moved to Washington DC to work in the US Patent Office.

In 1861 when the first federal troops came into the city, Clara was still working at the US Patent Office as a recording clerk. Clara quit to work as a volunteer. She advertised for supplies and other goods to help wounded soldiers. In 1862 Clara started delivering supplies to the front lines, where she often risked her own life to help wounded soldiers. In 1864 she became the superintendent of Union nurses. After the war she began writing to families of missing soldiers, and assist in finding them. President Abraham Lincoln even recognized her as the go to woman for aid in finding missing soldiers. Clara and her assistants identified over 22,000 missing men.

In 1869 Clara was physically and emotionally worn down. Her doctor ordered her to get some rest, so she took a trip to Europe. There she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, where she learned about the Red Cross and the Treaty of Geneva. During the Franco- Prussian war in 1870 Clara volunteered with the International Red Cross, where she observed the organization in action.

Clara returned to the United States in 1873 and began her work on the Treaty of Geneva and the Red Cross. In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross. In 1882 the US signed the Treaty of Geneva, thanks in large part to Clara's efforts. Clara served as the Red Cross's first president, and remained the president until 1904. During this time she led relief work for different disasters in the US and throughout the world. On April 12, 1912 Clara died from complications from a cold at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland.


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