A Boston native and New York clergyman, Henry W. Bellows was the moving force behind the establishment of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. Before the war he had been the editor of the of the Christian Inquirer and the founder of numerous clubs in New York. In April 1861 he unified a number of women's organizations as the women's Central Association of Relief, which, when it was organized on a national basis, was known as the Sanitary Commission. He became the president of a group that was trying to fulfill the functions that the government failed to provide for its troops in the field. These included adequate nursing, proper diet, proper camp hygiene, and directories of the sick and wounded from the folks at home. The Commission also provided a soldiers' home in the capital and several transient lodgings along railroad lines for soldiers returning to their units. After the war he pursued his religious and writing careers.