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October 2, 1996

Champions of Charity: War and the Rise of the Red Cross

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Health Science Center College of Medicine Brooklyn, NY

JAMA. 1996;276(13):1089-1090. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540130087037

Undoubtedly, the Red Cross was founded in 1864 by Henry Dunant and Gustave Moynier embedded with the seed of humanitarianism to alleviate the suffering and misery of soldiers wounded on the battlefields. However, Florence Nightingale declined to become the standard bearer for the emerging Red Cross organization and candidly prognosticated future events (as cited in Champions of Charity):

... such a (voluntary relief) society would take upon itself duties which ought to be performed by the government of each country and so would relieve them of responsibilities which really belong to them and which they can properly discharge and being relieved of which would render war more easy.

Reports of the success of the voluntary sanitary commissions during the American Civil War made a decided impact upon the development of the Red Cross, yet its federation was delayed. Clara Barton did not incorporate the American Association for the Red Cross until