Discussion | Clara Barton & Alice Paul (Greenville)

Event details

  • June 21, 2018
  • 9:00 am - 10:00 am
  • Upcountry History Museum, 540 Buncombe St, Greenville, SC 29601
  • 864.244.1499

 View Map  Cost: Free  | 

Coffee & Discussion: Clara Barton and Alice Paul

During the June Festival each morning at 9am from Wednesday June 20 – Saturday June 23, we gather together to pick the brains of of the historical performers. No costumes, no script, just a chance to have some personal time and dialog with the performers – over free coffee.

Each morning features a different performer/historical figure. Often the other performers and Chautauqua staff also join in the fun. And if you come to multiple Discussions, you begin to see how the 2018 courage historical figures relate to each other.

Admission to the event is Free. When the event is over, the Upcountry History Museum will be open. The exhibit “Picturing Nam, the Photography of the Vietnam War” from the National Archives will have just opened. If you are not already a Museum member, admission to the Museum is $8 adults, $7 seniors and $6 for children.

The Festival Morning Coffee & Discussion Series is a collaboration with The Upcountry History Museum – Furman University whose mission connects people, history, and culture.


Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., is an award-winning actress and scholar who has been presenting history lectures and portraying famous women in history for more than ten years. Each year, she presents more than 250 programs, appearing at public libraries, museums and historic homes, professional associations, colleges and universities, and corporations.

A resident of the Chicago area, she holds both a master’s degree in theater and a doctorate in American studies and women’s history. A former museum director, she is the author of two books on Chicago history and currently works full-time as a public speaker, living-history presenter, and author. www.lesliegoddard.info

During the battle of Antietam in 1862, Clara Barton was working at a temporary hospital set up in a farmhouse close to the battlefield. The surgeons there had been using corn leaves as bandages until she arrived with wagonloads of bandages, food and other supplies.

While assisting surgeons, Barton heard a wounded man begging for water. She fetched a cup and held it to his lips. Suddenly, she felt a twitch in her sleeve and the soldier jerked back. A bullet had ripped through her sleeve and landed in his chest, killing him instantly.

The extraordinary courage she showed that day, and at many other bloody locales during the American Civil War, earned Clara Barton the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.”

It was an inspiring achievement for a girl who grew up as the youngest, and shyest, of six children. She worked for several years as a teacher and even opened a public school in Bordentown, New Jersey in 1853.

But Barton quickly began pushing against traditional gender expectations. When school officials in Bordentown refused to promote her to principal because of her gender, she resigned.

She moved to Washington D.C. and found a prestigious position as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Barton was appalled by the lack of preparation, especially after the first Battle of Bull Run, when many wounded soldiers were sent back to Washington without receiving any medical care.

Barton immediately began soliciting donations of food, clothing, bandages, sheets and other desperately needed battlefield hospital supplies.

Although she had to struggle “long and hard with my sense of propriety,” Barton successfully petitioned the government for permission to bring her supplies battlefields personally, usually staying on to distribute them and to nurse the wounded.

Barton was present at some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War including Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg. Once, when a shell hit the door of the room in which she was working, she did not flinch but simply continued her work.

In 1865, as the war was winding down, she obtained permission from President Abraham Lincoln to help relatives locate missing soldiers by searching among prison rolls, parole logs and casualty lists. At her insistence, anonymous graves at Andersonville military prison in Georgia were identified and marked.

When her war service ended, Barton traveled to Europe for rest, where she became aware of the new International Red Cross and assisted its efforts during the Franco-Prussian war.

She founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for the next twenty-three years. Clara Barton died on April 12, 1912, at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland.

Civil War histories rarely give Barton the attention she deserves, though many at the time considered her the outstanding battlefield nurse and relief worker in the war. Her pioneering efforts opened up new opportunities for women, especially in nursing.

Even more remarkably, she did her work independently, without any organizational affiliation or official government appointment. As her biographer Stephen Oates put it, “Nobody else had done as much as she in acting as an individual conduit between the home front and the needy soldier on the battlefield.”

Driven by her own will and determination to cut through bureaucracies, she overcame “fearful odds” against a woman serving in the field in wartime and caring for wounded and seriously ill men without compromising her status as a “lady.”

And her example lives on. In the years since 1881, millions have volunteered with the American Red Cross, providing humanitarian and disaster relief across the nation.

  • 1821 – Born on Dec. 25 in Oxford, Mass.
  • 1833 – Nurses her injured brother for 2 year
  • 1854 – Ends teaching career, begins work at U.S. Patent Office
  • 1861 – Begins soliciting supplies for the wounded
  • 1862 – Begins traveling to battlefields to bring supplies and assistance
  • 1865 – Establishes office to locate missing soldiers
  • 1869-71 – Travels to Europe for rest, helps Red Cross with war relief for Franco-Prussian war
  • 1881 – Founds the American Red Cross
  • 1893 – Sea Islands Hurricane brings Barton’s American Red Cross to South Carolina
  • 1912 – Dies at age 90 in Glen Echo, Maryland
  • “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and nurse and feed them.”
  • “The conflict is one thing I’ve been waiting for. I’m well and strong and young – young enough to go to the front. If I can’t be a soldier, I’ll help soldiers.”
  • “What could I do but go with them [Civil War soldiers], or work with them and my country? The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.”
  • “A ball had passed between my body and the right arm which supported him, cutting through the sleeve and passing through his chest from shoulder to shoulder. There was no more to be done for him and I left him to his rest. I have never mended that hole in my sleeve.”
  • “I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
  • “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”
  • “I always tried … to succor the wounded until medical aid and supplies could come up – I could run the risk; it made no difference to anyone if I were shot or taken prisoner.”
  • “The surest test of discipline is its absence.”
  • “You must never so much think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”
  • “In my feeble estimation, General McClellan, with all his laurels, sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the age, the angel of the battlefield.” – Dr. James Dunn, after the battle of Antietam
  • A Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War  by Stephen O. Oates (1995).
    Excellent, thoroughly researched study of her Civil War work. My top pick.
  • Clara Barton: Professional Angel by Elizabeth Brown Pryor (1988).
    Serious but readable biography, drawn from her own writings. Emphasizes her post-war life.
  • Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott (1863).
    Lively fictionalized memoir by the author of Little Women
  • Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science by Shauna Devine (2017).
    Fascinating scholarly study of how the war accelerated medical science
  • The American Red Cross: From Clara Barton to the New Deal by Marian Moser Jones (2012).
    Traces the early history of the American Red Cross
  • Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War by Nina Silber (2005).
    Great study of how the war transformed women and inspired later feminist struggles
  • You Wouldn’t Want to be a Nurse During the American Civil War! by Kathryn Senior (2010).
    Upper-elementary children’s book with lively cartoon-like illustrations
  • Who Was Clara Barton? by Stephanie Spinner (2014).
    Great chapter book for children, part of the popular series
  • Time for Kids: Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield by Editors of Time Magazine (2008).
    Engaging kids’ book, packed with images

Little in Alice Paul’s quiet, comfortable Quaker upbringing suggested she would become a leader of the militant wing of the largest movement for political change in U.S. history and a pioneer of nonviolent social protest.

Born in New Jersey in 1885, she was raised with a sense of gender equality. “When the Quakers were founded,” she said, “one of their principles was and is equality of the sexes. So I never had any other idea.”

After graduating from Swarthmore College, she studied in England and joined the militant wing of the British suffragette movement, enduring arrest and imprisonment. She returned to the U.S. in 1910 fired up for the cause.

Paul launched her American suffrage work by organizing a parade on March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. The parade disintegrated as spectators began harassing marchers, attacking them, and pulling women off floats. The spectacle and violence made front-page headlines.

In 1914, she launched her own suffrage association, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and then an independent political party, the National Woman’s Party, both committed to a constitutional amendment enfranchising women and to publicity-driven, nonviolent action.

Paul’s remarkable ability to inspire drew followers to her and aroused them to courageous action.  Although tiny and frequently in poor health, she was a tireless worker who fearlessly put herself on the line and rarely sought personal acclaim.

On January 10, 1917, Paul launched her most daring tactic. She organized volunteers to stand outside the White House, holding banners in the Congressional Union’s white, yellow, and purple and with questions such as, “Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”

No one had ever before picketed the White House. Some, including Wilson, coldly ignored them. A few complemented them. Many accused them of being undignified, petty, and distinctly unladylike.

When the United States entered World War I that April, opinions intensified. Many now saw the picketers as unpatriotic and even disloyal. Crowds began to gather, shouting insults, and eventually shoving or attacking the picketers.

In June, picketers began to be arrested for “obstructing traffic” and imprisoned, usually at a workhouse in Virginia. But the picketing continued, as did the arrests and the prison terms, which gradually increased in length. Imprisoned suffragists resisted prison rules, which drew increasing brutality.

By late summer, suffragists, including frail, older women, were being beaten, pushed and thrown into cold, unsanitary cells. When Paul herself was arrested, she was sentenced to a staggering seven-month jail term. She immediately organized a hunger strike. Prison officials responded by force-feeding Paul and several other strikers in a tortuous method.

Finally, in 1919, both houses of Congress passed the women’s suffrage amendment. A little more than a year later, the required thirty-six states ratified it, and it was signed into law on August 26, 1920.

For Paul, the fight was not over. In 1923, she authored the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, which she would champion until her death.

Paul lived to see Congress pass the ERA in 1972. But she suffered a stroke in 1974 and died three years later at the age of 92, too soon to know the ERA would not be ratified.

Alice Paul is not widely remembered today, but recently she has been receiving new interest. The 2014 HBO movie Iron-Jawed Angels told her story, with Hilary Swank playing Alice Paul.

And in 2016, the Treasury announced plans to redesign the back of the ten-dollar bill with a depiction of the 1913 women’s suffrage parade she organized and with portraits of five suffrage leaders – including Alice Paul.

  • Jan. 11, 1885 – Born in Mt. Laurel, N.J.
  • 1908-1910 – Studies in England, joins British suffragette movement
  • 1913 – Organizes women’s suffrage parade in Washington D.C. for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
  • 1914 –  Breaks with NAWSA. Forms the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and later the National Woman’s Party
  • January 1917 – Launches first White House picketing demonstrations
  • April 1917 – The United States enters World War I
  • June 1917 – First arrests of picketers. Eventually, more than 500 will be arrested and 168 imprisoned
  • June 1919 – Suffrage amendment passes U.S. Congress
  • August 1920 – Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify; 19th amendment becomes law
  • 1923 – Introduces the Equal Right Amendment
  • 1964 – Succeeds in having sex discrimination prohibition included in the Civil Rights Act
  • 1972 – ERA passes Congress; goes to states for ratification
  • 1977 – Dies, aged 92
  • 1982 – Deadline to ratify the ERA passes, ERA fails to achieve ratification
  • When the Quakers were founded, one of their principles was and is equality of the sexes. So I never had any other idea, the principle was always there.
  • We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote.
  • When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.
  • It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun. There is hardly a field, economic or political, in which the natural and unaccustomed policy is not to ignore women…Unless women are prepared to fight politically they must be content to be ignored politically.
  • I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.
  • There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.
  • Unless women are prepared to fight politically they must be content to be ignored politically.
  • Mr. President how long must women wait to get their liberty? Let us have the rights we deserve.
  • This world crisis came about without women having anything to do with it. If the women of the world had not been excluded from world affairs, things today might have been different.
  • A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Battle, by Mary Walton (2010)
    Readable, well-researched Paul biography. My top pick.
  • Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J.D. Zahniser (2012)
    Very detailed, but sometimes dry biography
  • Alice Paul: Equality for Women by Christine Luncardini (2012)
    Short, comprehensive, lively biography
  • Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement, by Robert P.J. Cooney (2005).
    Big, lavishly illustrated 486-page history of the entire movement
  • Miss Paul and the President, by Dean Robbins (2009)
    Inspiring picture book for young children
  • Iron-Jawed Angels (2004)
    Flashy but fresh, powerful HBO film about Paul’s suffrage years. Hilary Swank plays Paul.
  • One Woman One Vote (1995)
    Terrific PBS documentary, explores the entire U.S. women’s suffrage movement.