From Women's History Month to International Women's Day, the month of March marks the observance of women who greatly contributed to America's story.
When President Jimmy Carter issued the Presidential Proclamation to celebrate National Women's History Week in 1980, he said, "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well."
Many of these unsung heroes served during the Civil War. Here are four remarkable women who we can learn leadership lessons from.
Clara Barton: Be willing to risk it all. When the Civil War broke out, Clara Barton was working in the U.S. Patent Office. Barton began to serve on the front lines of the war – nursing, comforting and cooking for the wounded – earning the nickname "Angel of the Battlefield."
After her service in the war, Barton founded the Missing Soldiers Office in 1865, which helped locate 22,000 missing men. Taking a break from her work, she traveled to Europe where she learned about the Red Cross. Upon her return to the U.S., she founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She served as the president of the organization until 1904. Barton is remembered for risking her life to care for others.
Sojourner Truth: Be committed to your values. A former slave, Sojourner Truth became the first Black woman to win a case against a white man in the United States. As a Christian, Truth felt called to preach the gospel and speak out against slavery and oppression. Truth would become an equal rights advocate and later worked with suffrage activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Her most notable speech was "Ain't I a Woman."
During the Civil War, Truth recruited Black soldiers and worked for the National Freedman's Relief Association to provide supplies to Black refugees. Due to her abolitionist work and service during the war, Truth received an invitation to the White House from President Abraham Lincoln. Truth stayed committed to her beliefs and even distanced herself from leaders she didn't agree with.
Harriet Tubman: Be relentlessly courageous. One of the most recognized women in history, Harriet Tubman is remembered for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Through her efforts, she is believed to have helped nearly 70 individuals escape from slavery and is said to never have lost a passenger.
With her knowledge of the transportation routes through the South, Tubman became a spy and scout for the Union Army. She provided key information on the Confederate's supply route and helped liberate enslaved people. Following the war, she became a proponent for the women's suffrage movement, speaking at events and working with Susan B. Anthony. Not only was Tubman brave, but she was relentless in her efforts to help others find freedom.
Dorothea Dix: Be a voice for others. After spending a year touring every jail she could, Dorothea Dix worked on legislation to reform prisons. Her research documented the horrendous treatment of prisoners and mentally ill individuals. Her advocacy work helped change people's perceptions and led to the expansion of state hospitals for the treatment of the mentally ill.
During the Civil War, Dix was named the Superintendent of Army Nurses where she helped organize and outfit the Union hospitals. Through this appointment, she was the first woman to serve in such a high capacity in a federally appointed role. Dix transformed the field of nursing. Dix is remembered for her advocacy work, fighting for those who weren't able to speak for themselves.
Although these are just a few of the many remarkable women who contributed to our history, we can learn key leadership lessons from the way they lived their lives. At a time when women still did not have the right to vote, these women used their platforms to advocate for others and played a vital role in influencing America.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the author of "Framework Leadership.'' As president of Southeastern University, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership and is also a founding member of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern's president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and in the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber Foundation. Read Kent Ingle's Reports — More Here.
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