Commission and Women's Politics

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The United States Sanitary Commission was created by executive order of President Abraham Lincoln on 13 June 1861. Its organization was the idea of a group of women and men who wanted to help the Union cause by developing a response to the inadequacy of the Army Medical Bureau in coping with the medical and sanitary needs of the army. On 29 April Dr. The cheap nfl jerseys WCAR would become the nucleus of the Sanitary Commission. But women, acting on their own, could not at that time hope to convince government to form a new national organization, so a group of men led to Washington by the Unitarian minister Henry Whitney Bellows convinced government officials to form the commission. Bellows was appointed president and Frederick Law Olmsted, the future designer of Central Park, was general secretary.

The commission worked through local affiliates. By 1863 there were 7,000 such branches throughout the north, all composed of and administered largely by women. Blackwell and the noted mental health reformer Dorothea Dix were early involved in recruiting volunteer nurses, but lost their influence as men took control of the commission. The commission's 500 paid agents were men, while tens of thousands of women labored as unpaid volunteers. These volunteers held bazaars and organized Sanitary Fairs to raise money to purchase medical supplies, clothing, and food to send to army camps and hospitals and to support the 3,000 women who served as army nurses. Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000.

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Women in the USSC

Arising from a meeting in New York City of the Women's Central Relief Association of New York,[1] the organization was also inspired by the British Sanitary Commission of the Crimean War. The volunteers raised money ($25 million), collected donations, worked as nurses, ran kitchens in army camps, administered hospital ships, soldiers' homes, lodges, and rests for traveling or disabled soldiers, made uniforms, and organized Sanitary Fairs to support the Federal army with funds and supplies. Women that worked hard, often traveled great distances, and in other than ideal situations, included Louisa May Alcott, Almira Fales, Eliza Emily Chappell Porter, Katherine Prescott Wormeley and many others.

The Sanitary Fairs offered ways for local communities to see themselves as part of a larger nation. The first Sanitary Fair during the war occurred in Chicago from October 27 to November 7, 1863. Called the Northwestern Soldiers' Fair, it raised almost $100,000 for the war effort. It included a sixmilelong parade of militiamen, bands, political leaders, delegations from various local organizations, and a contingent of farmers, who presented carts full of their crops. The fairs generally involved large scale exhibitions, including displays of art, mechanical technology, and period rooms. These sorts of displays called upon ideas of the American past, a history that local communities held in common. Often, different communities competed with each other over their donations to the national cause. People in various cities and towns across the North contributed to the same war effort because Wholesale NFL Jerseys they saw themselves as having shared fortunes in their common nation. The USSC leadership sometimes did not approve of the excitement and lavishness of the fairs. They wanted to encourage sacrifice cheap nfl jerseys as a component of membership in a nation. Although the fairs were one way to create a national identity which might motivate citizens to perform their duties, the commission leadership did not want the fairs to become the focus of USSC work.[2]

Henry Whitney Bellows, a Massachusetts clergyman, planned the USSC and served as its only president. According to The Wall Street Journal, "its first executive secretary was Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park."[4] George Templeton Strong, New York lawyer and diarist, helped found the commission and served as treasurer and member of the executive committee.[5] Also active in the association was Col. Leavitt Hunt, a New York lawyer and photographer, who wrote to President Abraham Lincoln's secretary John George Nicolay in January 1864, asking that Nicolay forward him a copy of the President's signature that Hunt's mother, the widow of Vermont congressman Jonathan Hunt, desired to attach to several casts of the President's hand to be sold to raise funds for the war effort.

Henry Whitney Bellows served as the President of the Commission.

Samuel Howe served as a Director of the Commission.

Frederick Law Olmsted served as the Executive Secretary of the Sanitary Commission.

Louisa May Alcott served as a nurse for the Sanitary Commission at a Union Army Hospital in Georgetown.

States could use their own tax money to supplement the Commission's work, as Ohio did. Under the energetic leadership of Governor David Tod, a War Democrat who won office on a coalition "Union Party" ticket with Republicans, Ohio acted vigorously. Following the unexpected carnage at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, it sent three steamboats to the scene as floating hospitals with doctors, nurses and medical supplies. The state fleet expanded to eleven hospital ships. The group is based out of the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts.

Western Sanitary Commission, a smaller rival based in St. Louis

Hospital Ships of the Sanitary Commission

^ Still, Charles J. (1866), History of the United States Sanitary Commission, Being the General Report of Its Work during the War of the Rebellion, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., pp. Patriot Fires: Forging a New American Nationalism in the Civil War North. Patriotic Toil: Northern Women and the American Civil War (1998), focus on the Sanitary Commission

Giesberg, Judith Ann. Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition (2006)

Martin, Justin. Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (2011) pp 178230

NYPL, USSC Civil War Soldiers Inquiry DatabaseThe United States Sanitary Commission Philadelphia Branch collection, containing materials on several humanitarian efforts made by the association during the Civil War, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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