Founded by J. H. Dunant,* who was influenced by F. Nightingale's* service in the Crimean War (185456) and his own witness of carnage at Solferino, N It., the day after battle bet. Fr. and It. on one side and Austria on the other (1859; ca. 40,000 lay dead or wounded; described in his Un Souvenir de Solférino). The Société genovoise d'Utilité publique, a Swiss welfare agency, named a committee of 5 (including Dunant) that arranged a conf. of 36 delegates from 16 nations at Geneva October 1863 to consider ways of implementing Dunant's ideas. A diplomatic conf. 1864 drew up the 1st Geneva convention, signed by 12 govts., arranging for care of sick and wounded in war; a red cross on a white field (similar to the Swiss flag, but with colors reversed) was adopted as emblem. Thus the 1863 committee of 5 was the beginning of the Internat. Committee of the Red Cross. The convention, repeatedly updated, has been ratified by most nations.
The Am. Red Cross traces its hist. to the US Sanitary Commission, which was organized mainly through efforts of H. W. Bellows* and functioned in the Civil War. The Am. Red Cross itself was founded 1881 as the Am. Assoc. of the Red Cross under leadership of Clarissa (or Clara) Harlowe Barton (18211912; b. Oxford, Massachusetts; schoolteacher 183654; patent office clerk, Washington, D. C., 185461; interested in war relief; 1st pres. Am. Red Cross), who had extended volunteer care to wounded in the Civil War and worked with the Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian War. The Am. Red Cross introd. peacetime services in times of disaster and presented the Am. amendment regarding such work to the Internat. Red Cross 1884.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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