Clara Barton Biography Essay

Clara Barton’s real name is Clarissa Harlowe Barton and was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts on December 25, 1821. From ages one to four, Barton was homeschooled. When Barton turned four, her parents, Captain Stephen and Sarah Barton, enrolled her into Colonel Richard Stone’s school. She did well in her studies, but she was too shy to make friends or to play with anyone. At the age of eight years old, she had not made a single friend. To remedy this, her parents sent her to a boarding school to overcome her shyness. When she got to the boarding school her shyness got worst and her parents had to withdraw her.

Barton helping others started at the age of eleven, her brothers, David Barton, had fallen off the roof and she took care of him for two years. This led to her overcoming her shyness and became her first medical training. When she was eighteen, Barton taught at various schools without wages in poorer areas. Her students regarded her with admiration and respect, and her crippling shyness seemed to leave her before her attentive and appreciative audience. She participated in noon recess activities to keep her students from playing too roughly. She didn’t believe in physical punishment and disciplined her students other ways.

She went back to school to further her education and founded her own school, a year later, as a project in New Jersey and had about 200 students by the end of the year. The community made another school, because, they liked the idea, and hired a man with a higher wage. Barton ended her teaching career in 1854 and began working in Washington, D. C. She became a recording clerk, the first woman to work in the U. S. Patent Office, until, Secretary of the Interior Robert McClelland changed her job as recording clerk to transcriber with a lower wage.

The Buchanan Administration took away her position at the Patent Office, but she later returned to her position as transcriber after Abraham Lincoln was elected. While working at Washington D. C. , Barton aided the 6th Massachusetts Infantry, which was attacked on their way to the capitol. She found that a lot of the soldiers she was helping were boys she had taught. This started her career of aiding people in times of conflict and disaster. Barton established a distribution agency of supplies in Washington D. C. to continue aiding wounded soldiers.

She was granted official permission to transport supplies to the battlefield by leaders of the government. During the Civil War, she was at all of the major battles in Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, bringing tools and medicine to the medics, and tending to the injured and sick too, even though she had no official medical training. In August 1862, Barton came, on a wagon drawn by four mules, to help the field hospital, after the battle of Cedar Mountain. Following the end of the war in 1865, Barton helped find missing soldiers and mark thousands of graves, and testified in Congress regarding her experiences during the war.

In 1869, after her doctor advised her to, Barton traveled to Europe to recuperate. While in Switzerland, she came across the Red Cross organization, established in Geneva in 1864. She helped the organization during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. When she got back to America, Barton called for an American branch of the Red Cross. She supported the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention was several treaties that set the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war.

In 1878 Barton writes to the People of the United States, Senators and Representatives in Congress about the Geneva Convention in The Red Cross of the Geneva Convention. What It Is: “… it seems to me, but proper, that while I ask the Government to sign it, the people and their representatives should be made acquainted with its origin, designs, and methods of work. To this end I have prepared the following statement, and present it to my countrymen and women, hoping they will be led to indorse and sustain a benevolence so grand in its character, and already almost universal in its recognition and adoption by the civilized world. (nps. gov)

She supported the Geneva Convention because, she wanted to bring the International Red Cross to the United States. President Chester A. Arthur signed the Treaty of Geneva in March 1882, with the unanimous ratification of the U. S. Senate, leading to the U. S. joining the International Red Cross. When she returned home, Barton focused her attention on educating the public and obtaining support for the creation of an American society of the Red Cross. She wrote pamphlets, lectured, and met with President Rutherford B.

Hayes. Her effort eventually paid off, on May 21, 1881, the American Association of the Red Cross was formed; Barton was elected President of the association in June and led it for the next 23 years. Over the years, local chapters were formed throughout the country to help people after natural disasters. Barton continued to lead the Red Cross, lecture and/or attend worldwide meetings, aid in disasters, help the poor, write about her life and the Red Cross, and lecture on women’s rights.

She resigned as President of the American National Red Cross in 1904 and established the National First Aid Association of America, an organization that asserted the importance of basic first aid and instruction, first aid kits, and emergency preparedness. Barton died in 1912, at the age of 90, in her Glen Echo home. Glen Echo became the Clara Barton National Historic Site in 1975. It was the first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman.