Woman of the Century/Clara Barton
BARTON, Miss Clara, philanthropist, was born in North Oxford, Worcester county, Mass., about 1830. Her father was a soldier with General Anthony Wayne. She received a good education in the public schools of her native town. When she was sixteen years old, she became a teacher. After teaching for some years she took a course of study in Clinton, N. V., and then went to Trenton, N. J., where she engaged in teaching. She taught for a time in Bordentown, N. J., and in that place she established a free school, which, in spite of all opposition, grew to large proportions. Overwork there in 1853 caused her health to fail, and she went to Washington, D. C, to visit relatives and rest. There was at that time much confusion in the Patent Office, growing out of the treachery of clerks, who had lietraved secrets of inventors applying for patents, and Miss Barton was recommended to the Commissioner of Patents as a person qualified to take charge of affairs. She was employed, and the male clerks tried to make her position uncomfortable, employing direct personal insult at first, and slander at last. Instead of driving her out of the Patent Office, her abusers themselves were discharged. She remained in the Patent Office three years, doing much to bring order out of chaos. Under the Buchanan administration she was removed on account of her " Black Republicanism," but she was recalled by the same administration. When the Civil War broke out, she offered to serve in her department without pay, and resigned her position to find some other way in which to serve her country. She was among the spectators at the railroad station in Washington when the Massachusetts regiment arrived there from Baltimore, where the first blood had been shed. She nursed the forty wounded men who were the victims of the Baltimore mob. On that day she identified herself with army work, and she shared the risks and sufferings of the soldiers of the Union army to the close of the great struggle. Visits to the battle-fields revealed to her the great need of provision for the nursing and feeding of the wounded soldiers. She made an attempt to organize the work of relief, but women held back, and Miss Barton herself was not allowed at first to go to the battle-fields. She gathered stores of food and supplies, and finally she prevailed upon Assistant Quartermaster-Genera] Rucker to furnish transportation facilities, and she secured permission to go wherever there was a call for her services. She at once went to the front, and her amazing work under the most distressful conditions, her unwearying devotion, and her countless services to the Soldiers earned for her the name of "Angel of the Battlefield" During the last year of the war she was called to Massachusetts by family bereavements, and while there she was appointed by President Lincoln to attend to the correspondence of the relatives of missing prisoners after the exchanges. She went to Annapolis, Md., at once, to begin the work. Inquiries by the thousand poured in, and she established a Bureau of Records of missing men of the Union army, employing several assistants. Her records are now of great value, as they were compiled from prison and hospital rolls and burial lists. At Andersonville she was able to identify all but four-hundred of the thirteen-thousand graves of buried soldiers. In her work she used her own money freely, and Congress voted to reimburse her, but she refused to take money as pay for her services. She managed the bureau for four years, and her connection with the great conflict has given her a permanent and conspicuous place in the history of the country. In 1869 she went to Europe to rest and recover her wasted energies. In Geneva she was visited by the leading members of the International Committee of Relief of Geneva for the care of the wounded in war, who presented to her the treaty, signed by all the civilized nations excepting the United States, under which all who wore the badge of their society were allowed to go on the battlefields to care for the wounded. Miss Burton had not heard of the society, although its principles were familiar to her from her service in connection with the Sanitary Commission. The society was the Society of the Red Cross. Miss Barton was at once interested in it and began to advocate its extension to cover the United States. In 1870. while she was in Heme, the war between France and Prussia broke out. Within three days Miss Barton was asked, by Dr. Appia, one of the founders of the Red Cross Society to go to the front and assist in caring for the wounded. Although herself an invalid, she went with her French companion, the "fair-haired Antoinette." and the two women were admitted within the lines of the German army. They there served after the battle of Hagenau, and Miss Barton realized the enormous value and importance of the Red Cross work, in having supplies of all CLARA BARTON. sorts ready and trained help to do everything required to save life and relieve suffering. Returning to Berne. Miss Barton was called to the Court in Carlsruhe by the Grand Duchess of Baden, who wished her to remain with her and give suggestions concerning relief measures. She remained in Carlsruhe until the siege of Strasburg, and. when the gates of that city at last opened to the German army. Miss Barton entered with the soldiers. For her services she received a Red Cross brooch from the Grand Duchess of Baden, the Gold Cross of Remembrance with the colors of the Grand Duchy of Baden from the Grand Duke and his wife, and the Iron Cross of Merit with the colors of Germany and the Red Cross from the Emperor and Empress of Germany. Everywhere in the ruined cities Miss Barton did most valuable work. In Paris, in the closing days of the Commune, she did much work. Monsieur Thiers himself honored her in signal ways, and she was debarred from receiving the cross of the Legion of Donor only by her refusal to solicit it, as, according to the laws governing its bestowal, it must be solicited by the would-be recipient. In 1873, utterly broken in health, she returned to the United States, and for several years she was unable to do any work. As soon as she was able to do so, she began to urge the Washington government to accept the Geneva treaty for the Red Cross Society. President Garfield was to have signed the treaty, but his untimely death prevented, and it was signed by President Arthur in 1882. In 1877 an "American National Committee of the Red Cross" was formed in Washington, and it was afterwards incorporated as "The American Association of the Red Cross." Miss Barton was appointed to the presidency by President Garfield, and she has since devoted herself to carrying out its benevolences. In the United States Miss Barton's society has done noble work among the fire sufferers in Michigan, and flood sutlerers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Johnstown, Pa. During 1891 and 1892 the society worked for the famine sufferers in Russia, the American branch having made large collections of food and money for that purpose. In 1883 Miss Barton was appointed superintendent of the Reformatory Prison for Women in Sherburne, Mass., and she divided her time between that work and the work of the Red Cross. She has made that beneficent organization known throughout the United States by its services in times of Buttering from fire, flood, drouth, tempest and pestilence. Miss Barton is spending her years in Washington, D. C., where, as a central sun, she diffuses energy, radiance and vitality throughout her world of philanthropy and of noble endeavor. Her long years of arduous labor have left their marks upon her, but she is still in the ranks, doing good service in the present and planning greater for the future.