Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Barton, Clara

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BARTON, Clara, philanthropist, b. in Oxford, Mass., about 1830. She is the daughter of Capt. Stephen Barton, and was educated in Clinton, N. Y. Early in life she became a teacher, and founded a free school in Bordentown, N. J. When this was opened it was attended by only six pupils; but when Miss Barton left it the attendance numbered more than 600. She entered the patent office as a clerk in 1854, and remained there until the war began, when she determined to devote herself to the care of wounded soldiers on the battlefield. In 1864 she was appointed by Gen. Butler “lady in charge” of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James. In 1865 she went to Andersonville, Ga., to identify and mark the graves of the union prisoners buried there, and in the same year was placed by President Lincoln in charge of the search for the missing men of the union armies. She lectured during the years 1866 and 1867 on her war experiences, and afterward went to Switzerland for her health. At the beginning of the Franco-German war, in 1870, she assisted the grand duchess of Baden in the preparation of military hospitals, and gave the red cross society much aid during the war. At the joint request of the German authorities and the Strasburg “Comité de Secours,” she superintended the supplying of work to the poor of that city in 1871, after the siege, and in 1872 had charge of the public distribution of supplies to the destitute people of Paris. At the close of the war she was decorated with the golden cross of Baden and the iron cross of Germany. In 1881, on the organization of the American red cross society, she became its president. The treaty granting protection to red cross agents was signed 16 March, 1882. The American society is modelled after its European namesake, and its object is stated by the constitution to be “to organize a system of national relief. and apply the same in mitigating suffering caused by war, pestilence, famine, and other calamities.” In 1884, as official head ot tlic society, Miss Barton had charge of the expedition for the relief of the sufferers from the flood in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and in the same year she was the representative of the government at the red cross conference in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1883 Gov. Butler appointed her superintendent, treasurer, and steward of the reformatory prison for women at Sherborn, Mass. Miss Barton was also delegate to the international peace convention at Geneva in 1884, and was special commissioner for foreign exhibits at the New Orleans exhibition. In 1883, by request of the senate committee on foreign relations, she prepared a “History of the Red Cross,” which was published at the government printing-office, Washington.