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The Red Cross Magazine

The Red Cross War Council

July 1917
Volume Twelve July, 1917 Number Six

ON MAY 10th President Wilson sent the following letter to Mr. Henry P. Davison, of J. P. Morgan & Co., New York.

THE WHITE HOUSE, Washington, May l0, 1917.


After consultation with my active associates in the American Red Cross, it has been thought wise to create a Red Cross War Council of seven members, including the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee. I have to-day created the council. This letter is to ask you to accept the Chairmanship; a patriotic service which I trust it will be possible for you to perform.

The close cooperation between the American National Red Cross and the military branch of the Government has already suggested new avenues of helpfulness in the immediate business of our organization for war but the present crisis is larger than that and there are unlimited opportunities of broad humanitarian service in view for the American National Red Cross.

Battlefield relief will be effected through Red Cross agencies operating under the supervision of the Department, but civilian relief will present a field of increasing opportunity in which the Red Cross organization is especially adapted to serve, and I am hopeful that our people will realize that there is probably no other agency with which they can associate themselves which can respond so effectively and universally to ally suffering and relieve distress.

Cordially yours,

Woodrow Wilson

William P. Davison, Chairman of the Red Cross War Council

Immediately following the action of the President, Mr. Eliot Wadsworth, the Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, dispatched the following telegram to all the Chapters of the American Red Cross:

The President has to-day appointed a Red Cross War Council consisting of Henry P. Davison, of J. P. Morgan & Company, Chairman; Charles D. Norton, G.M-P. Murphy, Cornelius N. Bliss, Jr., Edward N. Hurley, with William H. Taft, Chairman, Eliot Wadsworth, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee, ex-officio members.

Left to right, front row: Robert W. deForest, Vice-President of the Red Cross; President Woodrow Wilson; Former President William Howard Taft; and Eliot Wadsworth, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Red Cross.
Back Row: Henry P. Davison, Chairman of the War Council, Grayson M.P. Murphy, Charles D. Morton, and Edward N. Hurley

The President to-day issued the following statement:

“May 10, 1917. I have to-day created within the Red Cross a War Council to which will be entrusted the duty of responding to the extraordinary demands while this present war will make upon the services of the Red Cross both in the field and in civilian relief. The best way in which to impart the greatest efficiency and energy to the relief work which this war will entail will be to concentrate it in the hands of a single experienced organization which has been recognized by law and by international convention as the public instrumentality for such purposes. Indeed, such a concentration of administrative action in this matter seems to me absolutely necessary, and I hereby earnestly call upon all those who can contribute either great sums or small to the alleviation of the suffering and distress, which must inevitably arise out of this fight for humanity and democracy, to contribute to the Red Cross. It will be one of the first and most necessary tasks of the new War Council of the Red Cross to raise great sums of money for the support of the work to be done and done upon a great scale. I hope that the response to their efforts will be a demonstration of the generosity of America and the power of genuine practical sympathy among our people that will command the admiration of the whole world.”

In view of the above it is necessary to modify the plan outlined in Circular A-29.

For the use of the War Council, the National Finance Committee appointed by President Wilson, headed by Cleveland Dodge and Seward Prosser of New York, will raise a great Red Cross War Fund through our Chapters. Not a moment must be lost in preparing ourselves to meet the pressing calls from Europe and the emergencies which are soon to confront us here.

Every Chapter should at once mobilize and reinforce its finance committee for this work, which is of the utmost importance and urgency. Call immediately a meeting of your Executive Committee to make far-reaching plans for finance campaign as we look to you confidently for large results. Please telegraph the names of members of your finance committee to Seward Prosser, American Red Cross, Washington, D. C.

You will be promptly and fully advised by Mr. Prosser regarding the plans and methods.

The War Council is organizing today. The increasing need among our allies for supplies that can be furnished quickly only by ‘purchase, as reported by Herbert Hoover, and the inevitable development of home needs as we approach mobilization of vast numbers of American troops, make it clear that to meet the unprecedented situation, the War Council must ask that each Chapter retain from the proceeds of the Red Cross War Fund campaign an amount for local needs not in excess of 25 per cent. of the total raised by it. Many of our Chapters, appreciating the situation will turn over the total amount so raised to the Red Cross War Fund.

The War Council whenever possible, with advantage, will authorize expenditures for specified supplies by the Chapters in their own communities and particularly for the purchase of materials to be made by the Chapters into these needed articles.

The funds as raised are to be deposited by each Chapter in its local bank in a special account to be known as the Red Cross War Fund, to be remitted to National Headquarters as required.

Later the War Council will take full account of the needs by Chapters for local civilian relief which will become greater as our own troops are mobilized.

Please at once call together your Executive Committee and telegraph me assurances of their cooperation in President Wilson’s far-sighted plans for our Red Cross. Give this message full publicity.


(This poem was among a collection of verse on the war sent over from England without any data concerning when or where it was published.-The Editors.)

There is a hill in England,
Green fields and a school I know,
Where the balls fly fast in summer,
And the whispering elm trees grow,
A little hill, a dear hill,
And the playing fields below.

There is a hill in Flanders,
Heaped with a thousand slain.
Where the shells fly night and noontide,
And the ghosts that died in vain,
A little hill, a hard hill
To the souls that died in pain.

There is a hill in Tewry,
Three crosses pierce the sky,
On the midmost He is dying
To save all those who die,
A little hill, a kind hill
To souls in jeopardy.