Clara Barton

On this date in 1821, American Red Cross founder Clara Barton was born in North Oxford, Mass., the youngest of 5 children. Her parents were members of the Oxford Universalist Church. Barton was deistic and remained a creedless Universalist throughout her life. She was reading by the time she entered school at age 4, and became a teacher by age 17. At 29, Barton entered the Liberal Institute in Clinton, N.Y., to hone her teaching skills. By the time the Civil War broke out, she was working in the U.S. Patent Office in D.C., where she first organized a relief program for soldiers. When she learned that soldiers were dying not from injuries but from lack of medical supplies after the battle at First Bull Run, she organized a successful relief drive. The U.S. Surgeon General granted her a pass to travel with the Army ambulances, which she did for the next three years. After encountering the Red Cross in Europe, she came back to the United States, lobbied for ratification of the Treaty of Geneva, then founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She resigned as its director in 1904. She was a supporter of woman's suffrage and other liberal reforms. D. 1912.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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