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and, Barton personally oversaw relief to civilians that had been devastated by the religious wars in Turkey and Armenia in 1896 (Pryor, 2006). It was during this time that nearly 200,000 Armenians had been killed, alone (Barnett, 2004).
What little time Barton could spare from her Red Cross efforts went towards her larger interest in social reform. "In 1883 she reluctantly served as the superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory Prison for Women in Sherborn, a sobering experience that reinforced the politicization of her innate feminism" (Pryor, 2006). She worked hard to raise the economic and political status of women, attending rallies for the promotion of woman suffrage and developing friendships with Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone, as well as other leaders (O'Connor, 1995). Barton traveled to four states, alone, in 1888, on behalf of women's rights and was a featured speaker at the First International Woman's Suffrage Conference in Washington, D.C. Not only were women a cause of Barton's, but also disenfranchised blacks, and as such, she delivered an inspiring speech on the subject in 1868.
It was during the Spanish-American War of 1898 that the American Red Cross would undertake its first wartime efforts. The organization had tried to give relief to Cubans being held in concentration camps prior to the actual erumpent of hostilities, but were not successful. Once war broke out, the Red Cross began fieldwork on the frontlines and in the hospitals, as well as convalescent centers and prison camps. At the age of sevnty-six, Barton had personally gone to Cuba to coordinate the Red Cross activities there, and she personally directed all other work. However, it quickly became clear that the work was far beyond that of the small group of workers that had been the heart of the American Red Cross. It was this increased demand that would push the Red Cross into "a more professional mold and gained increasing interest from Congress and the White House" (Pryor, 2006).
Barton's Successful Leadership
Experience may be the best teacher (Bowers, 2000); however there are qualitative qualities a person must hone to become an effective leader. Clara Barton was a leader of society (Basbanes, 2001). There were several factors that were inherent to Barton's successful leadership. Although she is most noted for her work during the Civil War and her subsequent heading of the American Red Cross, her leadership qualities were present early on, back in the classrooms she commanded in Massachusetts. Barton was hardly much older than some of her students when she began teaching, yet she had a commanding presence, one that demanded that she was in charge. This presence was supported by the wide base of knowledge she had acquired during her scholastic endeavors, giving her confidence beyond her years.
Persistence was another facet of Barton's successful leadership. Despite hardship Barton never gave up. Personal hardship, such as family problems and a continuing series of nervous breakdowns, would cripple a lesser person. Instead, Barton persevered. When society shunned her, multiple times, because she was a female, she didn't give up. She worked that much harder to bring about social reform to correct the injustice, and demanded from those she was in direct contact with to give her the respect and credit she was due.
Vision was a sure component to Barton's leadership prowess. Barton saw opportunity to do good and serve others, where others feared to tread. She recognized the benefits of the Geneva Convention long before her own government. She saw the chance for the American Red Cross to do more than just serve in times of war, but to help people in times crisis, during peacetime. and, Barton realized that the scope of her organization should not simply be confined to the borders of the United States, but that she should serve mankind in general, wherever in the world they were located, when in time of need.
Dedication, though, was perhaps her greatest asset when it came to successful leadership. She did what was right, not what was easy. This level of dedication meant that Barton was willing to give up her life for an opportunity to help others. This shows in not only her willingness to give up what many would deem to be a normal personal life - a husband and children - but she was willing to give up her physical life as well. Barton selflessly placed herself in the midst of battle, time and time again, in America and in Europe. and, even when she did almost lose her life, she still continued to serve those in need. Although leadership occurs at many levels (Bowers, 2000), it is these qualities that all nurses should strive to attain, to become true leaders not only in their field, but in the larger scope of global society, in general.
Barnett, V. (Aug 10, 2004). Do-gooder dilemma: The limits of humanitarian intervention. Christian Century. Retrieved September 26, 2006, from FindArticles database.
Basbanes, N. (24 Mar 2001). Celebrate amazing women in history. The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved September 26, 2006, from ProQuest database.
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