RED CROSS SOCIETY:
The Treaty of Geneva.
Henry Dunant, a native of Switzerland, having witnessed the great and unnecessary suffering of the wounded after the battle of Solferino, in 1859, and being inspired by the work of Miss Florence Nightingale (q.v.) and other women, during the Crimean War, wrote a pamphlet entitled Un Souvenir de Solferino
(3d ed., Geneva, 1862). This work and his untiring energies aroused the interest of many of the sovereigns of Europe. In 1864, by invitation of the Swiss government, a convention of the representatives of several powers was held in Geneva, at which was signed the first treaty of Geneva, sometimes called the Red Cross treaty. This treaty was revised by a second convention in 1906, and by the Hague convention its provisions have been extended to naval warfare. It has been ratified by forty countries, representing all the civilized nations of the world (by the United States of America in Mar., 1882). This instrument provided that "officers, soldiers, and other persons officially attached to armies, who are sick or wounded
shall be respected and cared for without distinctions of nationality, by the belligerent in whose power they are." Hospital formations, their personnel and supplies are neutralized and protected by the treaty, which also recognizes and includes under its provisions the volunteer aid societies of the Red Cross. Out of compliment to Switzerland, the Swiss flag, reversed in color (red cross on a white field), was selected as the universal emblem and distinctive sign for the protection provided by the treaty. The treaty provides further that all the signatory powers shall obtain, as far as possible, legislation preventing the use by private persons or by societies, other than those upon which this convention confers the right thereto, of the emblem or name of the Red Cross or Geneva Cross, particularly for commercial purposes (trade-marks).
Red Cross Societies.
Under the Treaty of Geneva have grown up the great national Red Cross societies of the world. Each society is organized independently and according to the customs and laws of its respective country. It must be "duly recognized and authorized" by its respective government. After a society is organized and has secured the necessary recognition by its respective government, its credentials are forwarded to the international committee at Geneva, which passes upon them. If these are found satisfactory the international committee informs the foreign office of the Swiss government, which in its turn notifies the foreign offices of all the other signatory powers of the official standing of the society. In the charter granted by congress to the American Red Cross in 1905, the reasons for the formation of an official volunteer society as stated in the act are
that "The International Conference of Geneva recommends that there exist in every country a committee whose mission consists in cooperating in times of war with the hospital service of armies by all means in its powers," and that a "permanent
organization is an agency needed in every nation to carry out the purposes of said treaty," and, furthermore, that "the importance of the work demands a reincorporation under government supervision." The purposes of the society "are and shall be to furnish volunteer aid to the sick and wounded of armies in time of war in accordance with the spirit and conditions of the Treaty of Geneva," "to act in matters of voluntary relief and in accord with the military and naval authorities as a medium of communication between the people of the United States of America and their army and navy, and to act in such matters between similar national societies of other governments through the international committee and the government and the people and the Army and the Navy of the United Stwtes of America." In the majority of Red Cross societies the sphere of work has been broadened to include relief after national or international disasters. In the charter of the American Red Cross the additional duty is imposed upon the society "to continue and carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same."
History and Operations.
The first use of the emblem of the Red Cross in actual warfare was made by a corps of the Sanitary Commission in the last year of the Civil War in the United States of America. The volunteer societies of the Red Cross began their most active assistance
in France and Germany during the war of 1870, and since that time, in nearly all of the countries which have signed the Treaty of Geneva societies have been created. The training of nurses, the organization of an active personnel that may be ready for immediate mobilization, the collecting in some countries of hospital materials, including portable barracks, hospital trains and ships, and the formation of local committees or divisions for the raising of funds and supplies, in case of war, have been among the duties of the societies. Since their organization the sufferings of the sick and wounded have been greatly decreased. This was noticeably so during the Russo-Japanese War, when the Red Cross societies of the respective countries rendered invaluable assistance, provided hospital ships, hospital trains, field hospitals, an immense amount of other supplies, and a large trained personnel for the care of the sick and wounded. The Japanese Red Cross has a membership of 1,522,000, which provides an annual income of over a million dollars. In funds this society has over seven millions of dollars and possesses property and supplies valued at a million or more. The European societies have many hundreds of thousands of members, in a number of countries the funds of the Red Cross amount to from one to five millions of dollars, and several organizations possess also large warehouses of supplies. The first organization of the Red Cross in the United States occurred in 1881, a few months before the treaty was signed by this country. Its first president, Miss Clara Barton, remained at the head of the society until 1904, when she resigned. At that time it numbered about 300 members. During the war between the United States and Spain the society of which Miss Barton was president was mainly occupied in reconcentrado relief. In New York, California, and other parts of the United States in dependent and temporary Red Cross organizations grew up for the relief of the sick and wounded. These independent organizations died out after the war was over. In 1905 the American Red Cross was reincorporated by act of congress. Its central committee of eighteen members (the governing body) consists of six persons appointed by the president of the United States, including the chairman and representatives of the State, Treasury, War, Justice, and Navy Departments, of six elected by the incorporators, and six by the delegates from its subsidiary organizations. The law requires all accounts to be audited by the War Department and that an annual report of its transactions be made to congress. Its subsidiary organizations consist of state boards, of each of which the governor is ex-officio president, a limited number of representative citizens of the state constituting the other members. The duties of these boards lie mainly in the raising of funds in case of local disaster within the state, or of serious national and international disasters; local chapters consist of local bodies of members in counties, cities, towns, or villages, for the purpose of aiding the relief work required in time of war or disaster; there are also specialized agencies, such as duly elected charity organizations, federations of trained nurses, relief columns, and the like, for active relief work. The work of national head quarters is segregated under three boards, War, National, and International Relief. The chairman and vice-chairman of each board are members of the central committee. The duties assigned to these boards is the study, planning, organization, supervision, and control of such relief work as falls under their respective jurisdiction. From the time of its reorganization in Feb., 1905, until Jan. 1, 1910, the American Red Cross has assisted in relief work after twenty-five disasters, receiving and expending for this relief over five million dollars, besides large quantities of supplies. Not included in this amount is $400,000 raised by the sale of the Red Cross Christmas stamps to aid in the campaign against the pestilence of tuberculosis. Since the reorganization of the American National Red Cross in 1905, William Howard Taft has been the president, and the national treasurer has been the representative of the United States Treasury on the central committee, and its counselor has been the representative of the Department of Justice upon this committee.
C. Barton, Story of the Red Cross, New York, 1904;
E. R. F. McCaul, Under the Care of the Japanese War Office, new ed., ib. 1905.