Clara Barton – Essay Example

The paper "Clara Barton" is an excellent example of an essay on biographies. Clarissa Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She has been described as having a "strong and independent spirit" and is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross. She had two brothers and was extremely bright and educated at home. At the age of 15, she had started teaching in a school. Before that, at the age of 11 itself, she had laid foundations for her nursing career by treating one of her brother who fell from a rafter in their unfinished barn. She had drawn further interest in her nursing career from her great aunt Martha Ballard, who was a midwife for 3 decades. “On his deathbed, Clara's father gave her advice that she would later recall: As a patriot, he had me serve my country with all I had, even with my life if need be; as the daughter of an accepted Mason, he had me seek and comfort the afflicted everywhere, and as a Christian he charged me to honor God and love mankind." In April 1862 Barton established an agency to obtain and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers. In 1865, President Lincoln put her in charge of the search for the missing men of the Army. She had achieved wide recognition because of her lectures around the country about her experiences. She helped with the effort to identify 13,000 unknown Union dead at the horrific prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville, Ga. This experience encouraged her to launch a nationwide campaign to identify soldiers missing during the Civil War. She was appointed as superintendent of nurses in 1861. Clara Barton harnessed her iron will and devotion to human welfare to accomplish the good works which earned her world fame. Despite life-threatening conditions, she provided supplies and care to troops in the American Civil War and became known as "The Angel of the Battlefield." Her dedicated work during the civil war spoiled her health and the doctors’ advice a restful trip to Europe in 1869. In 1869 she went to Switzerland to serve in the France-Prussian War. When the Franco-Prussian war broke out she was in Europe. “Having just heard of the Geneva Convention which established the International Red Cross, she offered her services to the organization. She set up aid centers in several war-torn cities. The Grand Duchess Louise of Baden and other influential leaders welcomed the famous American. She was awarded the Iron Cross and urged to found an American Red Cross”. In 1870 she involved with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC). Miss Barton returned to the United States and began her most enduring work--the establishment of the American Red Cross. Finally, by 1881 at age 60, she persuaded the government to recognize the Red Cross to provide aid for natural disasters. Barton naturally became President of the American branch of the society, which was founded on May 21, 1881, in Dansville, NY. Barton sailed to Constantinople and opened the first American International Red Cross headquarter in the heart of Asia Minor. Red Cross constitution includes helping civilians also. Over the next two decades, Barton made the presence of the American Red Cross felt in such emergencies as the Johnstown flood, the Sea Island and Galveston hurricanes, and the outbreaks of typhoid in Butte, Pennsylvania, the Johnston Flood (1889) and yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Florida (1877). In these crises, the Red Cross provided nurses, basic supplies and aid centers to help victims. In the midst of her struggles, Barton traveled intermittently to appear at international events such as the 1882 ratification of the Geneva Convention, where she received the highest decoration given by the International Red Cross. In 1884 she was the first woman appointed as a diplomatic representative to the Third International Conference of the Red Cross, where she moved an American amendment regarding peacetime functions of the organization and was given the Augusta medal for humanitarian service. As the angel of Civil War battlefields and founder of the American Red Cross, she was perhaps the most perfect incarnation of mercy the modern world has known." Never married, Miss Barton was wedded to her convictions. In 1904 she resigned from the president post of American Red Cross at the age of 83. The tradition of assisting victims of disaster started by her continues today. She died in 1912 at the age of 90.