Clara Barton Founder of the Red Cross
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2003

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents

December 25, 1821, Oxford, Massachusetts, 12:00 PM LMT or 11:40 PM (rectified), LMT (Source of 12:00 PM time Sabian Symbols. Source of 11:40 PM, T. Pat Davis from Barton’s autobiography, Story of my Childhood, “just before noon”.) These two times result in either a Pisces or Aries Ascendant, and either a Sagittarius or Capricorn MC—which are most significant differences. Died, on April 12, 1912, Echo Glen, Maryland.


(Ascendant, either Aries of Pisces with Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aries in H1; Sun conjunct Uranus conjunct Neptune all in Capricorn and conjunct either the Sagittarius or the Capricorn MC, with the Moon also in Capricorn; Mercury in Sagittarius; Venus in Aquarius; Mars in Virgo, a powerful singleton in the sixth house; Pluto in Pisces conjunct Chiron in Aries) There are many indications of character suggesting that the Aries-rising chart is correct.  At 11:44:33 AM the Ascendant moves to Aries, so the case must be examined very closely. Barton’s words were “just before noon”. Perhaps this means closer than 11:40 AM.  

Clara Barton was the founder of the American Association of the Red Cross. Her chart demonstrates that she had the initiative, power and compassion to do this. As so many Capricorn individuals, she followed her conscience (Sun, Moon and two synthesizing planets in conscientious Capricorn at the “dharmic point”—the MC), and undertook the necessary strenuous labor—Mars in Virgo, the exoteric ruler of her Ascendant in the sixth house of labor and duty.     

“The Tibetan Teacher interests himself very much in the work of the Red Cross, and so there must, necessarily, be a connection between Him and its founder, who, reasonably may be considered to be on the second ray of Love-Wisdom, in her soul. “He works with those who heal, and co-operates unknown and unseen with the seekers after truth in the world's great laboratories, with all who definitely aim at the healing and solacing of the world, and with the great philanthropic world movements such as the Red Cross.” (IHS 57-58)

But clearly, the first ray, sixth ray and seventh ray were also abundantly present—at least they are conferred by the astrological positions. Aries and Capricorn confer the first and seventh rays, and Mars, as a singleton, emphasizes the sixth ray and also expresses through the sign Virgo, through which the sixth ray expresses (as well as the second). This singleton Mars is unusually powerful, focusing the considerable energies of the chart into that area of the chart which governs caring for those who are sick, disabled and in need of medical attention.

Clara Barton was possessed of visionary qualities (Mercury in Sagittarius, Neptune on the MC, both in the ninth house of vision and higher understanding). The Sagittarian Mercury is the esoteric ruler of the Ascendant, Aries, emphasizing its prophetic importance. She also had the power to transform and reform (Uranus on the MC exactly conjunct the Sun). Note that two of the synthesizing planets (Uranus and Neptune) conjunct each other and the Sun—an unusually powerful blend of transpersonal, supra-personal energies, conferring both a high level of innovative executive ability as well as compassion. She could initiate activity (Aries) both carefully (Saturn in Aries) and, yet, expansively (Jupiter in Aries). Hers was also the power to produce group harmony and community (Venus in Aquarius). As well, a deep karmic factor must necessarily have been at work with Pluto in its own esoteric sign (Pisces) conjunct the healing planet Chiron, in the sign of initiative, Aries, both in the twelfth house.  

The chart is balanced between hard line and soft line reinforcements. Six major planets (Sun, Moon, Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn) in the two signs Capricorn and Aries certainly emphasize the first and seventh ray potentials. Sun conjunct Uranus is powerfully organizational, and a Saturn/Jupiter conjunction only reinforces these executive abilities. However, the three signs which distribute the sixth ray are also emphasized (Pluto and Chiron in Pisces, Mercury in Sagittarius and singleton, sixth ray Mars in Virgo), all contributing significantly to a highly motivated and intense idealism. Behind the scenes however, and permeating this unusually potent collection of energies, one senses the presence of the compassionate ray of Love-Wisdom, presumably the soul ray, for which an elevated Neptune provides a means of expression.

All in all, this is an extremely powerful and focussed chart through which a strong and definite piece of work for humanity and Hierarchy could be accomplished.

A Summary of Additional Points to Bear in Mind when
Interpreting the Astrological Chart of Clara Barton

a.       It is possible to argue for either the Pisces-rising or Aries-rising chart. Certainly Pisces is a sign of great compassion and selflessneshs, qualities which could easily be applied to one who was known as the “angel of the battlefield”. And there would still be plenty of the sign Aries to give her the dynamism required for the strenuous life she lead.

b.       In seeking the Aries-rising chart, however, one must bear in mind that the time loosely given, as 11:40 am, and producing a Pisces Rising Sign, would change to Aries in just a little over four minutes. And she herself was known to speak of her time of birth as “a little before noon”. The margin therefore, is very slight.

c.       Both Virgo and Pisces and signs of healing and nursing. It is clear that Clara Barton as a dynamic force in the field of battlefield nursing owed much to the placement of a singleton Mars in Virgo, in Virgo’s own house, the sixth. This placement contributed to her capacity for tireless, unrelenting labor (greatly reinforced by her Capricorn and other Aries planets).

d.       If Aries were her Rising Sign, Mars would be the exoteric ruler and the connection between soul orientation (as found at the Ascendant) and her singleton Mars would be complete.

e.       As well, Chiron, a planet of healing, conferring direction and mission upon those it influences strongly would be on the Ascendant and in the sign of the Ascendant, strengthening it. Like Chiron, she was indeed one who “went her own way”.

f.        From the very first, Clara Barton was an educator, linking her to the second ray of Love-Wisdom even before she began her work of seeing to the needs of those wounded in battle. The fact that her particular focus was the battlefield, of course, emphasizes the importance of Aries, with Scorpio one of the major signs of battle.

g.       In 1852 she established a free school in Bordentown, New Jersey. It was so successful that the powers that be decided no woman could be in charge of it. She resigned rather than subordinate herself to a male principle. This seems far more an act of defiant Aries than more accommodating, self-effacing Pisces.

h.       As well, later in her career, once she had established the American National Red Cross she was apparently difficult to work with, and “jealous of any interference”. She supervised the work so closely that charges of authoritarianism were brought against her by members of the executive council. Again, this seems to be typical behavior related to Aries, which so often seeks to do everything by itself. One could argue that the Sun in Capricorn and Mars in Virgo could account for this behavior. Surely they would contribute to it, but Aries on the Ascendant, with Mars in Virgo as the ruler would add the “edge”. People do not usually find it difficult to work with a Pisces-rising person. Apparently, however, relations became very confrontational in this incident. She was known for the “arbitrariness “ of her way.

i.         There is also the question of stamina. She had stamina in abundance and worked with great forcefulness. Is this more typical of Pisces on the Ascendant, ruled by Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, or of Aries ruled by Mars, Mercury and Uranus?

j.         Another point worth exploring is the sign on the MC. Should it be Sagittarius or Capricorn? Given the intensity of her labor and her organizational ability, Capricorn seems the correct choice. But the solution is not so simple, as Jupiter, the exoteric ruler of Sagittarius and Saturn the exoteric and esoteric ruler of Capricorn are conjoined in Aries. The optimism and “can do” attitude of Jupiter in Aries would be regulated by the Saturn conjunction. Further, Saturn is also the ruler of the Capricorn Sun, giving it weight even if Saturn were not the ruler of the MC. But given the tremendous organizational work she performed, and the great assumption of responsibility involved, a Capricorn MC seems the better (if not decisive) choice. Let us remember that the MC would change to Capricorn just a little after four minutes from the 11:40 pm time suggested in the biography. One wonders at this 11:40 time. While it might be correct, it almost seems as if it were placed there by someone determined to see Pisces on the Ascendant. Really, no reasoning of this kind will be conclusive. Only a study of chart timing will determine the most probably truth.

k.       If Pisces were the sign ascending, we could say that the chart of Clara Barton would not belong in the midst of these Aries charts. But even so, Aries is so strongly represented through Chiron, Saturn and Jupiter, that it would not be entirely out of place.

l.         Our problem is further complicated by the fact that the Ascendant is rising relatively fast in late Pisces and early Aries. A short period of time can account for the rather fast passing of degrees. But, perhaps we can use this fast passage as a discriminator.

m.     It should be noted that even if Pisces is the Rising-sign, the last decanate of Pisces (in the chart of a persona traveling on the spiritual or counterclockwise wheel is Mars.) Again Mars. It becomes clear that the ‘breath of Aries’ can already be felt in the final degrees of Pisces.

n.       Two events which might be considered as speaking strongly for the Pisces-rising chart are the eclipses in September 1903 and March of 1904 (the year in which she retired from the organization she built.

Sun SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Sep 21 1903      13:40                27°Vi01' D       
Sun SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Mar 17 1904     00:53                26°Pi13’ D       

      These eclipses are on her Descendant first and her Ascendant in the actual year. Of course, as might be expected, another complication arises, as the Pisces solar eclipse falls exactly on Pluto, which could easily signal the termination of that phase of her work. Of course, Pluto, would be the esoteric ruler of Pisces, were it the Rising Sign.   

We also note the presence of Uranus hovering around her MC in late Sagittarius, which would not be the case in any of the Aries-rising charts.


o.       Another bit of timing which weighs in more in favor of the 11:40 chart, is the transit (at the time of Clara Barton’s death) of Pluto in the 28th degree of Gemini very close to the IC at the 29th degree of Gemini yielded by the Pisces-rising chart. Pluto brings death. At the same time the progressing Ascendant of the Pisces-rising chart is also in late Gemini, very close to the Pluto. If we go in this direction. We might even want to make the birth slightly earlier than 11:40 in order to make transiting Pluto coincide with a slightly earlier IC and a slightly earlier progressing Ascendant.


p. From a physiognomical point of view, we do notice a rather strong dimple in the chin. This is frequently found in relation to Taurus and Scorpio. If the last degrees of Pisces were rising, the third decanate would be rising, and the third decanate is ruled by Scorpio. These physiognomic features appear not only in relation to whole signs but in relation to signs which rule decanates.

q.       Perhaps some quite conclusive evidence arises when we consider the year she resigned her position from the free school she had started, rather than be a subordinate to a male principle, for no other reason than that he was male. On January 21st 1852 there was a solar eclipse at one degree Aquarius, the same degree in which her progressing MC was to be found. This is most indicative, as the MC has to do with career and Aquarius with freedom. Further just a little later, on June 17th, 1852, there was another solar eclipse at 26°Gemini34’, very near the IC. If, as stated above, the birth were even slightly earlier than 11:40 pm, the eclipse would be even closer to the IC and (as stated above) the death chart for an Ascendant of Pisces would work out even more closely.

Sun SEcl          (X)       Tr-Tr    Jan 21 1852 NS             16:11    00°Aq28' D      
Sun SEcl          (X)       Tr-Tr    Jun 18 1852 NS             02:00    26°Ge34' D      

The evidence is now weighing in for the Pisces-rising chart, as much as the author had argued (qualitatively) for the Aries Ascendant.

r.        Of course, there is no need for us to go all the way to noon to produce a chart with Aries Rising. We could have the chart we need beginning at 11:44:33 pm. But the MC/IC would still be Capricorn/Cancer, and the eclipses in late Pisces would touch the angular points acceptably, but still be “out of sign”. Further at the end of her life, Pluto would neither be touching the progressing Ascendant, which already would be in Cancer, nor would it be near enough to the to the IC angle to make the decisive difference.

s.       The author has left the argumentation (as it occurred to him) intact in this analysis of Clara Barton, in part for heuristic purposes, in order to demonstrate to readers how subtle the matter of deciding the correct Ascendant and MC may be, and how easy it is to find justifications for either or two contending possibilities. The matter is not yet solved, but there is increasing ‘cyclic reason’ to accept the Pisces-rising chart as accurate, rather than the Aries-rising chart (which has as strong a qualitative appeal, if not stronger, that the Pisces-rising chart).

t.        If, indeed, Pisces is the Rising Sign, then the angular Pluto in Pisces, the sign of saviorship, is very strong, indicating one who is willing to make all manner of sacrifices (even of life) to carry out a mission of salvation. Neptune and Jupiter will also be rulers. Neptune will confer idealism for the humanitarian organizations she supported and founded, and Jupiter, exoteric ruler, will make all things seem possible.

u.       Of course, these placements would still be effective no matter what the Ascendant, but Pluto, Neptune and Jupiter are given greater weight in the case of a Pisces Ascendant. As far as the exact extent of quantitative weight, that cannot at this time be determined.

v.       The feel of this chart speaks of an initiate. There is something here which resembles the life of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (almost certainly an initiate of the third degree). As in the case of Schweitzer there is the assumption of extreme responsibility followed by great renunciation and selfless sacrifice.

w.     We can easily view Clara Barton as a “world disciple”. Even in her day (when communication and travel was not so easy) she made her impact not only in the United States but abroad, and was even awarded by the conservative German government and the Kaiser for her selflessness and bravery. This represents a tremendous evocation; there was a response even from that group around Bismarck and the Kaiser which was responsible, a bit later, for ‘opening the door where evil dwelt’.

x.       If we think of Clara Barton as essentially a second ray soul, and choose Pisces for her Ascendant, we see an easy flow of second ray energy through the soul-orienting Ascendant.

y.       If that is the case however, the personality ray is almost certainly the first, and it would not surprise the author if the mental ray were also the first. She was so determined, so practical and so executive in her approach to the humanitarian responsibility she had undertaken. A close study of her writings, perhaps, would reveal the story. Mercury in “straight shooting” Sagittarius would contribute some first ray straightness to the mental process, but the situation is complex as there are harmonious aspects to Mercury from Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. No doubt she could be very persuasive.

z.       The astral body would appear to be the sixth, especially in consideration of the vigilance of her life, and the “jealousy” with which she guarded her prerogatives and her control of the organization she founded.

aa.   The physical body would seem to be on the seventh ray, giving order and executive ability, but strengthened by the first ray personality to withstand the rigors of the battlefield.

bb.   One senses the presence of some form of greatness here, and yet of humility. There is courage, sacrifice, a very strong will, persistence, compassion, selflessness—in short the makings of an initiate.

cc.   It would be reasonable to view this chart and the life it represents in the same way one views the life of Albert Schweitzer. It is the chart of a great humanitarian who contributed immensely to the alleviation of human suffering. It is very probably the chart of an initiate, not just of the threshold, but an initiate in fact. 


A ball had passed between my body and the right arm which supported him, cutting through the sleeve and passing through his chest from shoulder to shoulder. There was no more to be done for him and I left him to his rest. I have never mended that hole in my sleeve.
(Mars trine Uranus & Neptune.)

An institution or reform movement that is not selfish, must originate in the recognition of some evil that is adding to the sum of human suffering, or diminishing the sum of happiness.

I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past. (Sun conjunct Uranus.)

I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.
(Chiron conjunct Pluto & Ascendant in Pisces. Neptune conjunct MC.)

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.

I wonder if a soldier ever does mend a bullet hole in his coat?

The door that nobody else will go in at, seems always to swing open widely for me.
(Pluto conjunct Ascendant.)

The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.

The surest test of discipline is its absence.

This conflict is one thing I've been waiting for. I'm well and strong and young - young enough to go to the front. If I can't be a soldier, I'll help soldiers.

What could I do but go with them [Civil War soldiers], or work for them and my country?
(Pisces Ascendant.)

Economy, prudence, and a simple life are the sure masters of need, and will often accomplish that which, their opposites, with a fortune at hand, will fail to do.
In a letter written c. 1912 to Mrs. John A. Logan, who had succeeded Barton in the Presidency of the American Red Cross after her retirement in 1904.
(Saturn conjunct Jupiter.)

You glorify the women who made their way to the front to reach you in your misery, and nurse you back to life. You called us angels. Who opened the way for women to go and make it possible?... For every woman’s hand that ever cooled your fevered brows, staunched your bleeding wounds, gave food to your famished bodies, or water to your parching lips, and called back life to your perishing bodies, you should bless God for Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances D. Gage and their followers.
   In 1869, addressing an audience in an Iowa town when she had been extolled as a non-feminist: “Miss Barton does not belong to that class of woman.” In fact, she knew and respected many active feminists—including the three she mentioned—and subscribed to some feminist ideas.
(Venus conjunct North Node.)

I have never worked for fame or praise, and shall not feel their loss as I otherwise would. I have never for a moment lost sight of the humble life I was born to, its small environments, and the consequently little right I had to expect much of myself, and shall have the less to censure, or upbraid myself with for the failures I must see myself make.
   Barton wrote this in 1903, at a time when her Presidency of the American Red Cross was being challenged. She had been born one of five children to a North Oxford, Massachusetts family in modest circumstances.

... this I conceive to be no time to prate of moral influences. Our men’s nerves require their accustomed narcotics and a glass of whiskey is a powerful friend in a sunstroke, and these poor fellows fall senseless on their heavy drills.
   In an 1861 letter to her cousin Elvira. Once an opponent of tobacco, Barton now recognized the value of it and other intoxicating substances in wartime and supplied it to the Civil War soldiers herself. During World War II, after her death, the Red Cross would send 87 million packages of cigarettes abroad to service people.
(Neptune conjunct MC.)

Long ago I added to the true old adage of “What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business,” another clause which, I think, more than any other principle has served to influence my actions in life. That is, What is nobody’s business is my business.
  In a letter dated March 7, 1888, written to orator Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), urging him to speak on behalf of the residents of Mount Vernon, Illinois, whose town had been ravaged by a tornado the month before.

... it has always proved that the grandeur of a nation was shown by the respect paid to woman.
In an address delivered in February 1902 to the thirty-fourth annual convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

I was only one woman alone, and had no power to move to action full-fed, sleek- coated, ease-loving, pleasure-seeking, well-paid, and well-placed countrymen in this war- trampled, dead, old land, each one afraid that he should be called upon to do something.
Written c. 1870 on the coolness of Civil War General Burnside to her proposal that a headquarters be established in Brussels, Belgium for distributing American goods to combatants during the Franco-Prussian War.
(Pluto conjunct Ascendant.)

Although its growth may seem to have been slow, it is to be remembered that it is not a shrub, or plant, to shoot up in the summer and wither in the frosts. The Red Cross is a part of us—it has come to stay—and like the sturdy oak, its spreading branches shall yet encompass and shelter the relief of the nation.
From her parting message, delivered on May 14, 1904, as she retired from the Presidency of the American Red Cross.

The bugle-call to arms again sounded in my war-trained ear, the bayonets gleamed, the sabres clashed, and the Prussian helmets and the eagles of France stood face to face on the borders of the Rhine.... I remembered our own armies, my own war-stricken country and its dead, its widows and orphans, and it nerved me to action for which the physical strength had long ceased to exist, and on the borrowed force of love and memory, I strove with might and main.
The former war nurse was describing her reaction to the announcement of the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).

My business is stanching blood and feeding fainting men; my post the open field between the bullet and the hospital. I sometimes discuss the application of a compress or a wisp of hay under a broken limb, but not the bearing and merits of a political movement. I make gruel—not speeches; I write letters home for wounded soldiers, not political addresses.
Written on June 24, 1863, during the Civil War, to editor T. W. Meighan, who had urged her to use her influence to help bring about peace.
(Mars in Virgo.)

The Red Cross in its nature, it aims and purposes, and consequently, its methods, is unlike any other organization in the country. It is an organization of physical action, of instantaneous action, at the spur of the moment; it cannot await the ordinary deliberation of organized bodies if it would be of use to suffering humanity, ... [ellipsis in original] it has by its nature a field of its own.
From her 1901 report to the U.S. Congress; she still served as President of the American Red Cross.

It is too late—the world is too dark for any thought ahead. Others are writing my biography, and let it rest as they elect to make it. I have lived my life, well and ill, always less well than I wanted it to be but it is, as it is, and as it has been; so small a thing, to have had so much about it!
On being asked in 1904, upon her resignation as President of the American Red Cross, to write her autobiography.


Clarissa Harlowe Barton (better known as Clara Barton) (December 25, 1821 –April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She has been described as having had an "indomitable spirit" and is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.

Barton was born to Captain Stephen and Sarah Barton in Oxford, Massachusetts. Barton's father was a loyalist to England, and this led to many confrontations between him and his wife. Her father was a farmer and horse breeder while her mother managed the household. The two later helped found the first Universalist Church in Oxford.

As a child, she was shy and retiring, the youngest of five siblings. All her brothers and sisters were at least ten years older. Young Clara was home-educated and extremely bright. It is said that her older brothers and sisters were kept busy answering her many questions, and each sibling taught her complementary skills, her older sisters being teachers and her brothers happy to teach her how to ride horses and do other things that, at the time, were thought of as being only appropriate for men. She later spent four years at the Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York. At the age of 11, when her brother David became ill, for two years Clara stayed by his side and learned to administer all his medicine, including the "great, loathsome crawling leeches."

Teaching, organizing, learning bureaucracy, a mission
Clara became a teacher at age 17, a post that she was to hold for the next 18 years. For ten years, Clara taught in a small Massachusetts town, where her brother owned a factory. After she was invited to teach in a private school in Bordentown, New Jersey, Barton recognized the community's need for free education, and, despite opposition, she set up one of the first free public schools in the state.

In 1854 she suffered from a serious nervous breakdown probably brought on by overwork. She took a break from teaching (which would be called a sabbatical in modern times) and attended the Clinton Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York, where she studied analytic geometry, calculus, astronomy, mathematics and natural science in addition to French, German, ancient history, philosophy and religion. Afterward, she was appointed to a job as a clerk in the Patent Office in Washington, D.C. where she learned the ins and outs of the federal bureaucracy.

When her father was dying, he gave Clara advice that she would always 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 bade me seek and comfort the afflicted everywhere, and as a Christian he charged me to honor God and love mankind."

Clara Barton circa 1866.When the American Civil War began, Barton resigned her position in the Patent Office to devote herself to the care of wounded soldiers on the field of battle. With the outbreak of war and the cascade of wounded Union soldiers into Washington, she quickly recognized the unpreparedness of the Army Medical Department. In April 1861, after the First Battle of Bull Run, she established an agency to obtain and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers. For nearly a year, she lobbied the U.S. Army bureaucracy in vain to bring her own medical supplies to the battlefields. Finally, in July 1862, she obtained permission to travel behind the lines, eventually reaching some of the grimmest battlefields of the war and serving during the sieges of Petersburg, Virginia and Richmond, Virginia. Barton delivered aid to soldiers of both the North and South, working close to the battlefield. In 1864 she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Butler "lady in charge" of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln placed her in charge of the search for the missing men of the Union army, and while engaged in this work she traced the fate of 30,000 men. As the war ended, she was sent to Andersonville, Georgia, to identify and mark the graves of Union soldiers buried there. This experience launched her on a nationwide campaign to identify soldiers missing during the Civil War. She published lists of names in newspapers and exchanged letters with veterans and soldiers' families. She also delivered lectures on her war experiences, which were well received. She met Susan B. Anthony and began a long association with the suffrage movement. She also became acquainted with Frederick Douglass and became an activist for black civil rights.

The search for missing soldiers and years of toil during the Civil War physically debilitated Miss Barton. In 1869, her doctors recommended a restful trip to Europe. In 1870, while she was overseas (on "vacation"), she became involved with the International Red Cross and its humanitarian work during the war between France and Prussia. Created in 1864, the International Red Cross had been chartered to provide humane services to all victims during wartime under a flag of neutrality.

When she returned to the United States, she inaugurated a movement to secure recognition of the International Red Cross society by the United States government. When she began this organizing work in 1873, no one thought the U.S. would ever again face an experience like the Civil War, but she finally succeeded during the administration of President James Garfield on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis. As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the "Good Samaritan of Nations" label. Barton naturally became President of the American branch of the society, which was founded on May 21, 1881. John D. Rockefeller gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, DC, located one block from the White House.

Various authorities call her a “Deist-Unitarian.” However, her actual beliefs varied throughout her life across a spectrum between freethought and deism. In a 1905 letter to her friend, Norman Thrasher, she called herself a “Universalist.” [1]

Clara Barton continued to do relief work on the battle field as an aid until well into her 70s. She went to Cuba with a cargo of supplies in 1898 and spent six weeks on the scene of the Galveston, Texas floods, at age 79. She resigned from the American Red Cross in 1904 at the age of 83 and spent her remaining years in Glen Echo, Maryland. She died in 1912 at age 90, and is buried less than a mile from her birthplace in a family plot in Oxford, Massachusetts.

Clara Barton was one of America's greatest heroines -- a true patriot and philanthropist who, when she saw a practical need, gave every ounce of her strength to address it. [2]

The American Red Cross she founded is one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world. Barton was the most decorated American woman, receiving the Iron Cross, the Cross of Imperial Russia, and the International Red Cross Medal. Her final act was founding the National First Aid Society in 1904.

In 1942, a United States Liberty ship named the SS Clara Barton was launched.

In 1975, Clara Barton National Historic Site was established as a unit of the National Park Service at her Glen Echo, Maryland home. The first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross and the last home of its founder. Clara Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in her Glen Echo home, and it served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross as well.

The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Miss Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Miss Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work. Visitors to the site are led through the three levels on a guided tour emphasizing Miss Barton's use of her unusual home, and come to appreciate the site in the same way visitors did in Clara Barton's lifetime. [5]

Born on December 25, 1821 in Oxford, Mass., the youngest of 5 children in a middle-class family, Barton was educated at home, and at 15 started teaching school. Her most notable antebellum achievement was the establishment of a free public school in Bordentown, N.J. Though she is remembered as the founder of the American Red Cross, her only prewar medical experience came when for 2 years she nursed an invalid brother.

In 1861 Barton was living in Washington, D.C., working at the U.S. Patent Office. When the 6th Massachusetts Regiment arrived in the city after the Baltimore Riots, she organized a relief program for the soldiers, beginning a lifetime of philanthropy.

When Barton learned that many of the wounded from First Bull Run had suffered, not from want of attention but from need of medical supplies, she advertised for donations in the Worcester, Mass., Spy and began an independent organization to distribute goods. The relief operation was successful, and the following year U.S. Surgeon General William A. Hammond granted her a general pass to travel with army ambulances "for the purpose of distributing comforts for the sick and wounded, and nursing them."

For 3 years she followed army operations throughout the Virginia theater and in the Charleston, S.C., area. Her work in Fredericksburg, Va., hospitals, caring for the casualties from the Battle of the Wilderness, and nursing work at Bermuda Hundred attracted national notice. At this time she formed her only formal Civil War connection with any organization when she served as superintendent of nurses in Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butlers command.

She also expanded her concept of soldier aid, traveling to Camp Parole, Md., to organize a program for locating men listed as missing in action. Through interviews with Federals returning from Southern prisons, she was often able to determine the status of some of the missing and notify families.

By the end of the war Barton had performed most of the services that would later he associated with the American Red Cross, which she founded in 1881. In 1904 she resigned as head of that organization, retiring to her home at Glen Echo, outside Washington, D.C., where she died 12 Apr. 1912.

NAME: Clarissa Harlowe Barton

DATE OF BIRTH: December 25, 1821

PLACE OF BIRTH: North Oxford, Massachusetts

DATE OF DEATH: April 12, 1912

PLACE OF DEATH: Glen Echo, Maryland

FAMILY BACKGROUND: Clara was the daughter of Captain Stephen and Sarah (Stone) Barton. Her father was a respected farmer, horse breeder and politician. The youngest of five children, most of her education came from her two brothers and two sisters. Although a shy child, she accelerated early in her studies: by the time she was 4 years old, Clara could easily spell complicated words. Her instinctual gift of nursing started at the young age of 11 when she nursed her brother David through a serious illness.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Clara Barton became a teacher in Massachusetts at the age of 17; founded her own school six years later and after ten years of teaching, felt the need to alter her career path. She then pursued writing and languages at the Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York.

Following these studies, Barton opened a free school in New Jersey. The attendance under her leadership grew to 600 but instead of hiring Barton to head the school, the board hired a man instead. Frustrated, she moved to Washington D.C. and began work as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office; this was the first time a woman had received a substantial clerkship in the federal government.

With the emergence of the Civil War, Barton refused to take a salary from the government's treasury and dedicated herself aiding soldiers on the front. Never before had women been allowed in hospitals, camps or on battlefields; initially, military and civil officials declined her help. Eventually, she gained the trust of these officials and began receiving supplies from all over the country. As a result of her untiring work, she became known as the "Angel of the Battlefield." Officially, she became the superintendent of Union nurses in 1864 and began obtaining camp and hospital supplies, assistants and military trains for her work on the front. She practiced nursing exclusively on battlefields, experiencing first-hand the horrors of war on sixteen different battlefields.

After the war, President Lincoln granted her the ability to begin a letter writing campaign to search for missing soldiers through the Office of Correspondence. Later in her life, Barton continued to search for missing soldiers and also became involved in the suffragist movement. In 1869, she traveled to Europe for rest as directed by her doctor. In Europe she was educated about the concept of the Red Cross as outlined in the Treaty of Geneva and also by observing the Red Cross while traveling with volunteers serving in the Franco-Prussian War. Twelve nations had signed the treaty but the Unites States had not. She returned to the United States; rallied to have the US join in this treaty; and vowed to establish this work in the United States. Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster; this service brought the United States the "Good Samaritan of Nations" label. The United States ultimately signed the Geneva Agreement in 1882 .

Barton was the President of the American National Red Cross for twenty-two years. Under her leadership, she adopted the framework of the Red Cross to fit the needs of the United States not only during wartime but in peacetime. The Red Cross's early work included aiding victims and workers in the floods of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in 1882 and 1884, the Texas famine of 1886, the Florida yellow fever epidemic in 1887, an earthquake in Illinois in 1888, and the 1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania disaster/flood. Internationally, countries noticed and recognized the need for such peacetime assistance and in 1884 the Geneva Convention passed the "American Amendment" to include this concept. The first wartime experience for the American Red Cross was in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Barton also was highly dedicated to fighting for and furthering the rights of women; she worked closely with Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and others. Barton herself was the most decorated American woman, receiving the Iron Cross, the Cross of Imperial Russia and the International Red Cross Medal. Her final act was founding the National First Aid Society in 1904. She retired as President of the American Red Cross at the age of 83 and spent her remaining years in Glen Echo, Maryland where she died from complications of a cold.

Clara Barton's two "rules of action" were "unconcern for what cannot be helped" and "control under pressure."


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