Clara Barton and the Red Cross

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Part 2: Her Efforts and History

Barton liked the work so much that she continued it after the war ended, by forming the country's first missing-persons agency. Her work in this effort lasted for four years, during which time she became even more famous than she already was and met both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Barton joined with both of these people in fighting for African-Americans' and women's rights, to vote and to have equal treatment.

In 1869, Barton went to Europe to rest. She was very tired from all her work during the war and after, helping search for missing soldiers. However, Europe was soon ablaze with the Franco-Prussian War, one of a serious of wars between France and what would become Germany. Barton went to work with the International Red Cross, helping to distribute supplies to both sides of the conflict.

When that war was over, Clara Barton returned home with the idea of forming an American Red Cross. Such an organization did not exist, and Clara set about creating it. She did most of the work herself, distributing brochures with information on the organization and giving speeches in support of it. She visited members of Congress and other government officials. Her hard work paid off in 1881, when the National Society of the Red Cross was created. American businessman John D. Rockefeller donated money to help create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C., one block from the White House.

The first president of the American Red Cross was none other than Clara Barton, who served in that office for the next 23 years. Even though she was advanced in age, she never lost her spirit and desire to help people in need. She personally accompanied a shipment of supplies to Cuba in 1898, when she was 70, and helped the victims of the massive Galveston, Texas, floods, in 1907.

Clara finally retired in 1904 and spent the rest of her life in a suburb of the nation's capital. She died in 1912 and was buried in Oxford, where she was born.

The Red Cross continues to carry out the mission set forth by Clara Barton, helping people in need, on the battlefield, after disasters, and day-to-day. It is one of the best-known organizations in the world.

First page > Her Early Life > Page 1, 2

Graphics courtesy of Library Congress,

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