Clara Barton

Clara Barton

Early Life:

Clara Barton was a civil war nurse, educator and a humanitarian. She was born Clarissa Harlow Barton on December 25, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts. Her father was a local militia commander and a farm owner. She was the youngest of five children. As a child Clara was very timid and shy and her parents tried hard to help her shed her shyness. She was an intelligent and a sensitive child and excelled in school. She started out as a teacher at an early age of 17 and had a 12 year long career in teaching school children. She had a knack for managing unruly students, mainly boys and was known as an effective teacher.

Government Service:

Clara Barton gave up her job as a teacher and decided to pursue a college degree in 1950. After graduating in 1951 she opened a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey. She was perhaps the first women to enter government service in United States when she joined US Patent Office as a patent clerk in 1955. She was initially paid a salary equal to men but later her salary and designation were downgraded. Her experience as a woman in government job was not very good as she complained discrimination. At one point Clara and other women were dismissed from service. She campaigned for Women Rights and was supported by future president Lincoln. When Lincoln overtook presidency, Clara rejoined Patent Office as a copyist.

Civil War:

When Carla was only ten, her brother David fell from the roof and was severely injured. Doctors had given up on him but Carla nursed her brother day and night and helped her recover. That was when she realized that she enjoyed taking care of people. Carla’s father inspired her to help soldiers in war. After the civil war started she started collecting supplies, clothing and food for the Union soldiers on front. The collected supplies were sent to the soldiers.

In August, 1862 she was allowed to work in field hospitals on the front lines. Throughout the war she remained present in close proximity of battle zones and worked to manage cleanliness of hospitals, apply dressings, distribute supplies and serve food to wounded soldiers. She was present on the frontline during battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Second Bull Run. She was very popular among soldiers for her helping and gracious nature. She was nicknamed ‘Angel of Battlefield’ for her service to the Union soldiers.

American Red Cross:

After the end of civil war, Barton ran the Office of Missing soldiers, where she helped find missing and dead Union soldiers. Union army had kept little record of missing soldiers and Clara had to work tirelessly to trace down the fates of these men. She then went on a visit to Europe and came to know of Red Cross movement.

She worked alongside Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and upon her return to USA decided to convince US government to recognize Red Cross in America. In 1881 she succeeded in founding American Red Cross and was elected its first president. Under her presidency, Red Cross worked tirelessly during Spanish-American War and several other calamities and natural disasters.

Later Life:

After she resigned from Red Cross in 1904, at the age of 83 she founded National First Aid Society. She spent her final years in Glen Echo, Maryland, where on April 12, 1912 she died of tuberculosis. Clara Barton is respected world over for her humanitarian work and services for Women Rights. She never married and considered soldiers she served during civil war, her family.