Clara Barton: Humanitarian (Women of Achievement) by Samuel Willard Crompton

By Samuel Willard Crompton

Often called the 'Angel of the Battlefield' for her efforts throughout the American Civil conflict, Clara Barton is remembered as a pioneering nurse and humanitarian. This name enables you to examine this courageous nurse and founding father of the yankee purple go.

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She also organized a relief effort in her hometown of Oxford, asking local women to collect things for the Union soldiers. Like nearly everyone at the time, Barton did not realize how bloody and destructive the Civil War would be, but at least she had the foresight to take action. Just as the Union soldiers, “the boys in blue,” were gathering in Washington, “the boys in grey” (the Confederate soldiers of the Southern states) were forming in Richmond, Virginia. Barton and the rest of Washington waited anxiously for the first major battle of the war.

A Man’s World Ties and Contacts Barton came to Washington without influence or people to assist her, but she soon found a small group of men who became useful to her. One was Alexander DeWitt, the congressman from her district in Massachusetts, and the other was Charles Mason, the commissioner of patents. S. Patent Office was in its infancy when Barton arrived in Washington, but the latter half of the nineteenth century would see boom times for the organization. Upon meeting Barton, Commissioner Mason was so impressed with her that he asked her to be governess to his daughter.

Barton’s sister Sally, who had spent the past decade raising her two children without much help from her husband, needed Barton’s help. Barton intended her return to be a short one, but it lasted for about two years. In that time, she had almost no well-paid employment, but her habit of saving kept her financially secure. Her much more pressing concern was lower the tariff. The Crisis of 1850 had been resolved by the Compromise of 1850, under which California came in as a free state. The South, for its part, received a much tougher fugitive slave law, requiring Northern sheriffs to assist Southerners who went north looking for runaway slaves.

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