Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross

The founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, was born on Christmas Day 190 years ago in 1821. A pioneer teacher, nurse and humanitarian, Barton began nursing at the age of eleven when her brother, David, was injured in a fall. She tended to him for three years, learning to administer his medications and the art of leeching.

Barton began caring for civil war patients from the outset of the American Civil War. The US Senate chamber in Washington DC had become a makeshift hospital where she tended soldiers from Massachusetts. It was after the First Battle of Bull Run that she established an agency for acquiring and distributing medical supplies to the wounded. In 1862, she finally received permission to travel in ambulances to the battlefields where she was to witness some of the bloodiest scenes of the war.

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