The Red Cross: What It
Clara Barton was the founder of the American Red Cross. She was also the architect--the design would be what she wanted it to be--and its builder--she would provide the leadership and not merely the inspiration required to carry out the tasks that by nature and by nations were set before her. In 1882 the Red Cross was largely a paper organization with a promise of achievement. For the next twenty years Barton labored to fulfill the promise, and in the event she exceeded expectations rather much as she had done all her life.
The problems facing the newly born society were serious in nature. It had no working organization. At this stage Clara Barton was the Red Cross and the Red Cross was Clara Barton. Headquarters in Washington were located in the residence Barton had purchased in 1878, a row house at 947 T Street in the northwest quadrant of the city. There were only three local chapters, all in New York state, at Dansville, Rochester, and Syracuse, though others would soon come into being. Further, the society had no operating funds and slim prospects that financial support would be forthcoming. The idea that the Congress would appropriate even a modest annual stipend was far-fetched. For a society with national pretensions based on international recognition, extended on June 9, 1882, there were good reasons to doubt, not its survival perhaps, but certainly its great success. The Blue Anchor, for example, was busy as ever collecting money from