"God Help Them All and So Must We":
Clara Barton, Reverend John Brown, and Drought
Relief Efforts, 1886-1887
SHIRLEY W. CALDWELL*
A VICTORIAN WRITER OBSERVED THAT WHILE COMMUNITIES HARDLY NOTICE
the development of great economic and social forces, their wisest
statesmen always recognize them and act to shape institutions and mold
men's thoughts accordingly. These words seem prophetic for John
Brown, a young Scotsman, who at the close of the American Civil War
boarded a ship bound for the United States. Twenty years later in a Texas
drama brought on by drought, he boldly influenced policy that remains
part of the twenty-first-century template for handling Texas and national
disasters. In many ways, this honorable man was ahead of his time, but
tragically his very name made serious consideration of his ideas difficult.'
As a result of the Crimean War, the Geneva Convention created the In-
ternational Red Cross. Miss Clarissa (Clara) Harlowe Barton of North Ox-
ford, Massachusetts, had nursed Civil War wounded, and she successfully
lobbied the United States Congress to adopt the Geneva Convention in
1882, which created the American Association of the Red Cross. She be-
came its first president and met Brown in the fall of 1886, in Washington,
D.C., when he traveled east from Albany, Texas, to seek financial aid for
*Shirley W. Caldwell, TSHA president, 2002-2003, gave this speech at the 2003 TSHA annual
meeting in El Paso. Caldwell has been a member of the TSHA since 197o, has served on numer-
ous committees, and served as a member of the Executive Council. Among her activities m the
area of Texas history, she has been a member of the Shackelford County Historical Commission,
the Dallas County Historical Commission, the Texas Historical Foundation, and the Historic
Preservation League of Dallas Since 1995 she has served on the Texas Historical Commission.
' Rev. John Brown, Twenty-Five Years a Parson zn the Wild West, being the experiences of Parson Ralph
Riley (Fall River, Mass.: Privately printed, 1896), 18-19. The quotation is from ViscountJohn Mor-
ley, The Life of Rzchard Cobden (1881), in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations (Boston: Little, Brown &
Co., 1955), 700.
'Mabel T. Broadman, Under the Red Cross Flag, At Home and Abroad (Philadelphia- J. B Lip-
pincott Co., 1917), 81, 83, Ellen S. Brodt, Clara Barton, "Red Cross" (Philadelphia: Daughters of
America, Jan., 1887); National Park Service, "Clara Barton Chronology, 1821-186o,"
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. CVI, NO. 4
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed March 14, 2014.