Sunday, May 16, 2010

History-Clara Barton!

Today I am going to tell you about Clara Barton. You will notice that the important date is actually on May 21, which is Friday of this week. I just wanted to tell you that so you wouldn't get confused. :)

Clara Barton was born on Christmas Day 1821, in Oxford, Mass. She was the youngest of five children, and her first patient was her brother David, when he fell from the rafters in their unfinished barn. This happened when Clara was 11, and she cared for her brother David for 3 years, in this time she learned to administer all his medicine, including the"great, loathsome crawling leeches"! (Her words) Clara became a schoolteacher in Mass, at the age of 17. Six years later she founded her own school and four years after that she decided to pursue a different path. Her new path was going to the Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York to study writing and languages.

After college, Clara went on to open a free school in New Jersey. The school under her leadership grew to a attendance over 600, but annoyingly instead of hiring Barton to be the head of the school they hired a man. Frustrated, she moves to Washington D.C. and begins working with the U.S. Patent Office as a clerk. This was the first time a woman had a substantial clerkship in the U.S Government.

Then the Civil War broke out, and Clara started advertising for supplies, and distributing bandages, socks, and other goods to the help the soldiers. In 1862, Clara was authorized to start delivering supplies directly to the front, which she did without fail for the next two years. In 1864 she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Butler as the "lady in charge" of the Union hospitals at the front. In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln placed Clara in charge of searching for missing men from the Union Army. A young soldier named Dorence Atwater comes to her door and provides a copied list of the dead he had snuck from the Andersonville officials. He had taken it with him thought the lines when he was released from prison. His list of nearly 13,000 men proved invaluable and was published.

She by now (the end of the Civil War) had become widely recognized around the country for delivering lectures on her war experiences. She also became acquainted with Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony. By 1869 Clara had worked herself into a breakdown and her doctor said she should go to Europe. During this time Clara learned about the Red Cross.

This is what she is famous for! Her inauguration of the International Committee of the Red Cross by the United Stated Government. On MAY 21, 1881 in Dansville, N.Y. Clara became president of the American branch of the Red Cross! People thought that after the Civil War America wouldn't face something like that again, so there would be no need for the Red Cross. But, Clara succeeded in convincing the president that there was still a need. This became apparent in the Spanish-American War during which it aided refugees and prisoners of war. In 1896, responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the Hamidian Massacres, Barton sailed to Istanbul and after long negotiations with Abdul Hamid II, opened the first American International Red Cross headquarters in the heart of Beijing,China. Clara's last humanitarian effort as the president of the Red Cross was to help the victims of the September 1900 Galveston hurricane. They established an orphanage for the children of the 6,000 dead, helped to acquire lumber for rebuilding houses, and teamed with the New York World newspaper to illicit aid. Clara resigned from being the president of the Red Cross in 1904, due to her age (83) and criticism of her management skills. On April 12, 1912 at the age of 90 she died in Glen Echo, Maryland with all her friends by her side.

The Red Cross continues to serve people today, you will see them helping in situations like Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake. Anywhere there is a natural disaster in the world the Red Cross will be there often especially the American Red Cross.

Wasn't that interesting? Not only did we learn about Clara Barton but we learned about her work in founding the American branch of the Red Cross, which is a very vital humanitarian organization. I hope you enjoyed this installment of History Sunday! Also, I forget to tell you that Libby finally told me I could tell you who I really am. I was blogging as Libby, because she said I knew more about history then her, so I volunteered to help her out. I love history so I was happy to. I am Freedom, Libby's 15 year old sister, and I am in 10th grade. I really like bringing you fascinating history facts each week. I hope you like me!

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