Manuscript letter signed by Senator Carl Schurz and Senator James W. Grimes, to President Ulysses S. Grant, introducing Clara Barton and advocating for her plan "for the employment of the Colored people in this District" Clara Barton.

Manuscript letter signed by Senator Carl Schurz and Senator James W. Grimes, to President Ulysses S. Grant, introducing Clara Barton and advocating for her plan "for the employment of the Colored people in this District"

[Washington, D.C.]: [late March or early April 1869].

1p., with integral blank. With the original envelope inscribed in Clara Barton's hand: "Petition to Genl Grant asking to be permitted to create a Working Bureau for Freedmen". 9 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches. Usual folds Item #320739

"The undersigned beg to introduce to your Excellency Miss Clara Barton, a lady who by her active and upright course during and since the war has won the gratitude of the country and our own confidence in her entire integrity and capacity to conduct any enterprise which she may undertake. And we would respectfully suggest if consistent with your engagements that you will yield a few moments attention to a plan which she has to present for the employment of the Colored people of this District [i.e. Washington, D.C.], and which seems to us to present very many practical points which ought to be of great value to them and the country. She asks the retention of such Government Property as is at present for sale for a few days, or until such time as we may be able to pass a joint Resolution appropriating portions of it to the above use which we will endeavor to do during the present week."

On March 25, 1869, Charles Sumner presented on the floor of the Senate a petition by Barton "in which she sets forth the needs of the freedmen of the City of Washington" (Congressional Globe). In her petition, she requested a joint resolution of Congress granting to her use of unused buildings and stores belonging to the War Department for training and educating the city's African American population, including many freed slaves who had arrived in the city during and immediately following the war. Barton, as her inscription on the envelope suggests, sought to create a Working Bureau for Freedmen. The Senate voted to refer the matter to the Committee on Military Affairs. Schurz (who has signed his name as Charles instead of Carl) served on that committee and here, with Grimes who served on the Committee of Appropriations, sent this letter to President Grant shortly thereafter.

At the time, Barton had recently completed her work at the Missing Soldier's Office. She had been actively involved with the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau at the end of the war to assist freed slaves in the south, but here turned her attention closer to home, requesting government surplus to assist job training for African Americans in Washington. Exhausted from her constant work and in poor health, in September of that year she travelled to Switzerland to recuperate where she learned about the International Red Cross.

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