The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, who served as its president under the original articles of incorporation. Following her resignation in 1904, the Red Cross was restructured and led by a Central Committee, with six of its 18 members, and its chairman appointed by the U.S. President.
In 1906 a largely ceremonial office of president was added and in 1913, President Wilson agreed to serve in this role. This began a tradition that continues to the present whereby the president of the United States serves as honorary chairman of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross is not a government agency and does not receive a regular appropriation from Congress
March is Red Cross Month, first proclaimed in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since then, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. All of the country’s leaders since President Roosevelt have also had something to say about the Red Cross.
For instance, in 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had this to say: “The services of the Red Cross demonstrate our nation’s tradition of neighbor helping neighbor.” In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson had this to say: “On every battlefield, a flag of mercy flies. Its white field bears a Red Cross, the universal symbol of human compassion.”