The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced a redesign of the ten dollar bill, to include a notable woman as the new face of the bill. The American Red Cross has someone in mind – our founder, Clara Barton.
Employment and Pay
1. While still a teenager, she began teaching school near North Oxford, Massachusetts at time when most teachers were men. The school offered her a position in the winter months with the same lower pay she received for the summer months. She stated “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.” Clara’s resolve and sterling reputation as a teacher won out and she was paid the same as the male teachers.
2. Clara Barton was one of the first female employees in the federal government. She worked for the US Patent office.
On the Battlefield
3. She removed a bullet from a soldier’s cheek with her pocket knife at Antietam.
4. She was dubbed “the angel of the battlefield.” Following the battle of Cedar Mountain in northern Virginia in August 1862, she appeared at a field hospital at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. The surgeon on duty, overwhelmed by the human disaster surrounding him, wrote later, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n] . . . angel, she must be one—her assistance was so timely.” Thereafter she was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” as she served the troops at the battles of Fairfax Station, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.
5. She risked her life more than once during the civil war to aid soldiers—one of the most dramatic happened at Antietam when Clara was giving a soldier a cup of water when he suddenly died. She then noticed a hole in her sleeve from a bullet that narrowly missed her and killed the soldier.
6. At Antietam, she discovered a woman posing as a man fighting in the war—Mary Galloway. Mary was injured. Clara admired her defiance of custom and spirit to fight. She protected her and helped locate Mary’s future husband—who was also wounded and in a Washington hospital. They later named their eldest daughter after Clara Barton.
7. Impartiality was the watchword of her war work. She exhibited this sentiment in Culpeper by providing Confederate prisoners with sheets and clothing to alleviate their suffering.
Internationally Inspired, Domestically Driven
8. She lobbied the federal government to sign the Treaty of Geneva. She was finally successful in 1882.
9. After the Civil War, She traveled to Europe to rest, per the advice of her doctor. While in Geneva Switzerland, she was visited by two members of the International Red Cross. She learned about the movement. By 1870, the Franco Prussian war had started. She volunteered with the International Red Cross providing primarily civilian relief. Through this experience, she knew that her mission was to return to the United States and found a Red Cross Society.
10. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.
Developed Valuable Resources for Americans
11. In March of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln gave her permission to open the Office of Missing Soldiers. Through this effort, she managed to reconcile the fates of 22,000 missing men.
12. She served as honorary president of the National First Aid Association of America founded in 1905. After leaving the Red Cross in her 80s, Clara traveled the country teaching people first-aid skills.
And number 13? Bottom line: Clara Barton spent most of her life dedicated to serving others.