THE ADVOCATE 187
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
time working on the mechanics of bringing improved medical aid to the victims
of war, they also embarked on what would now be termed an advertising
campaign, to get their point recognized throughout the world and
particularly by the sovereigns of Europe.
Dunant wrote a report, which the Committee proposed to present to the
forthcoming International Welfare Congress, which was about to take place
in Berlin. Dunant dwelt on the need to send volunteer nurses to the battlefields,
the plan to improve methods of transportation of the wounded, the
improvement of services in the hospitals and the introduction of innovations
for the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers. It was suggested that
the Committee should be permanent. They wanted to facilitate the provision
of supplies and the waiving of customs duties. They desired that the
civilized powers recognize an international and inviolable principle to be
guaranteed by a kind of covenant among the governments. The Committee
passed a resolution that it should constitute itself as “a permanent International
committee”. Thus was conceived the idea that blossomed to
become the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Dunant set off for Paris where he was well respected as the author of Un
souvenir, and he embarked on what was in effect a sales campaign among
the fine houses and salons for the Committee’s proposals. He drummed up
support from anybody of importance in Paris with whom he could engineer
The opening years of the decade of 1860 were witness to a profusion of
wars that lent some immediacy to the Committee’s endeavours. The American
Civil War had broken out in 1861. The French had sent an expeditionary
force to Syria where the Maronite Christians were being massacred
by the Druxes. The Italian states were fighting for the unification of Italy.
The French were struggling to subdue violent unrest in Mexico, which ultimately
ended with the execution of the Emperor Maximillian. In 1864 Bismarck
forcibly wrested the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein from the
Danes. The Poles were rebelling against Russian occupation, a revolt that
was put down with savage ruthlessness by the Russians in April 1864. At the
end of that decade the Franco-Prussian War resulted in the unification of
Germany, the fall of Paris and capture and deposition of Napoleon III.
The Committee was busy exploring the possibility of drafting an agreement
that might be acceptable to the great powers of Europe. The Welfare
Conference scheduled for Berlin had been cancelled, so the Committee
needed a new platform. Moynier, rising above his normal Swiss cautiousness,
proposed that the Committee itself host an international conference
to be held in Geneva. They fixed the date for October 23, 1863.