previous next


The object of the Sanitary Commission was to do what the Government could not. The Government undertook, of course, to provide all that was necessary for the soldier, . . . but, from the very nature of things, this was not possible. . . . The methods of the commission were so elastic, and so arranged to meet every emergency, that it was able to make provision for any need, seeking always to supplement, and never to supplant, the Government.—Mary A. Livermore in ‘My Story of the War.’

When the fall of Fort Sumter made war inevitable, a wave of enthusiasm swept over the country, North and South. As always happens in such crises, the women looked about them for something they might do. The first soldiers who went to the front were furnished with every possible bit of equipment which feminine brains could devise. In every village the women met to ‘sew for the soldiers.’

Out of this feeling that there must be something which women could do, even if they could not fight, grew in the North the Sanitary Commission. Its origin may be traced to a meeting of women held in New York, April 25, 1861. Out of this grew the Women's Central Association of Relief. Plan after plan was suggested, only to be discarded by the common sense of the leaders. Finally, Dr. Henry W. Bellows, pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York, advised them to find out first what the Government would and could do, and then to attempt to do only those things which the general Government felt itself unable to do.

Accompanied by several other gentlemen deeply interested

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Mary A. Livermore (1)
Henry W. Bellows (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 25th, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: