Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why care about Clara Barton?” you ask? Really? Are we doing your homework for you again here? Be careful. Not sure if you get extra points for levity and/or smarminess. It certainly is a good time of year for Barton though as you will soon see. (Plus, it beats answering the question: “Why can’t someone play the Joker instead of the Race Card for once?”)
Clara Barton was born on Christmas Day–December 25, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts. She was the youngest of five children. She was always a helpful person even as a young girl.
She became a teacher in 1838. For 12 years she worked as a teacher in schools in Canada and West Georgia.
Clara Barton opened a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey following her study of writing and languages at the Clinton Liberal Institute in New York. It was the first free school in the state. The board hired a man to run the school over her.
Frustrated, Clara Barton moved to Washington D.C. in 1855 and began work as a clerk in the US Patent Office. She was the first woman to work in what is now known as the Patent and Trademark Office.
When the Civil War came, Clara Barton carried supplies to soldiers and nursed the wounded. For this she was declared the “Angel of the Battlefield.” Following the end of the war she founded a bureau to locate missing men and the office eventually marked over 12,000 graves in the now infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
Clara Barton went to Europe in 1869 and discovered the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Geneva, Switzerland. She participated in Red Cross activities during the Franco-Prussian War.
Upon returning home to the US she pushed for the establishment of the US branch of the Red Cross. It was founded in 1881 and she became its first president. She was responsible for the clause in the Red Cross’ constitution that allows for civilian relief in peacetime calamities. It’s called the “American Amendment”.
Clara Barton also encouraged the US government to ratify the Geneva Convention which they did in 1882. She died in her 38-room home in Glen Echo, Maryland which was also the headquarters of the American Red Cross for many years and is currently a National Historic site.
Why care about Clara Barton? Now you know.
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