The History of the Salvation Army

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I Studied the History of the Salvation Army. Let me tell you what I learned...

William Booth and his wife Catherine can be called "co-founders" of what has emerged as one of the world's most venerable philanthropies.

Dick Scott
Dick Scott

Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in London, in 1852.

As per tradition, he started preaching from the pulpit. However, when he found the hapless and destitute in the streets, he would stop and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to that audience. Right on the spot!... with Catherine at his side.

Booth delivered his sermons to those poor and hungry souls with such zeal and fervor that they sought him out each day. He partially satisfied some of their basic needs. The throngs grew rapidly.

The Growth of the Salvationists

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In the meantime, Booth fell in disfavor with the church hierarchy. They wanted him to follow a more dignified and traditional protocol. So he broke away from the church and was solely delivering his message at evangelistic type meetings. He had groups forming and growing in numbers all over London.

From the beginning, it could have been described as a 'movement'. In his absence, a leader would emerge and the whole assembly broke spontaneously into song, preaching, self-support, and prayer.

This group expansion continued to grow exponentially from 1867 onward. The growth of the movement was indeed impressive. By 1885 the 'Salvationists' numbered some 250,000. However, it was not without incidents...

Organized gangs mocked the members

There were serious pitched battles throughout the British Isles. Rather than deterring Booth's converts, their resolve to spread the word of Christ was strengthened.

Somewhere during this growth, Booth's legion of followers became known as the 'Hallelujah Army'. His assistants grew in number from 10 early on, to way over 1,000.

The organization of the 'Army' resembled somewhat a military structure. There were Majors, Captains and Lieutenants. William Booth and Catherine coined the name, "The Salvation Army."

They always guided their direction, their thoughts, their very reason for being by one single word... OTHERS.

Salvation Army Expands into the United States

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Expansion of The Salvation Army into the United States occurred in 1879 when one of Gen. Booth's lieutenants, Eliza Shirley, migrated to Philadelphia to be near her aging parents. She was immediately welcomed enthusiastically.

The following year, Booth sent an official cadre to pioneer the work in America. As in Britain, some of these early followers were met with hostility and derision. They were attacked, ridiculed, and arrested.

Several Salvation Army soldiers and officers were even killed.

In spite of these terrible offenses, the movement burgeoned rapidly from New York to California and several states between. From there, expansion was rapid to Canada, France, South Africa, India, Australia, and on to each continent.

The Salvation Army name, the red shield symbol, and the reputation, clearly defined what this organization was established for...

In 1886, President Grover Cleveland received a delegation from the Salvation Army to the White House. That gesture cemented much of the world's recognition that here was a charity capable of coming to the aid of a fellow human being who was down on his luck... no extensive qualifications: need for shelter, need for food... the basics of survival could be expected.

Salvation Army Volunteers

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General William Booth died in 1912. His personal single purpose of devotion to his God and to OTHERS impacted the lives of millions of people worldwide whom he never met, within a mere short one-half century.

That fact alone profoundly illustrates the dedication of the army of volunteers who literally made the Salvation Army run, day-by-day, and year-by-year. This is an army of the world's greatest heroes. Some are renown and acclaimed who give so much unselfishly.

Then there are the additional multitudes; Unsung workers and unsung givers. We refer here especially to those givers who had little substance to share and yet in the face of others' adversity, cheerfully donated what they had and as they could.

  • Is this one of America's greatest marvels?

  • Greatest strengths?

  • Do we exceed other people when it comes to philanthropy?

Maybe, somehow, it's a genetic thing. I prefer to rationalize that it "comes from God himself"... bundled in with our other freedoms.

Alexis de Tocqueville - "Democracy in America."

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Please, let me digress briefly. Back in the early 1840's, there was a French historian who came here to study these people, the already established young states of America. His name was Alexis de Tocqueville.

Sixty years previously, these Americans, derived mostly from European stock, had freed themselves from the British yoke. Sure they had help from the French, (who had recently been showed the backside of the Brits' glove), so... no love there.

The Poles helped the colonies too. Even the British themselves didn't expect much resistance. Because..., "Didn't they have a huge army? The world's best naval force and a worldwide empire to sustain these forces?"

De Tocqueville observed one "over-riding" attribute about these Americans. They had an unusual propensity to volunteer their skills, money, and time, to help others who were stricken low by some circumstance. That was the main thesis of his classic, "Democracy in America."

  • So, was the American psyche conditioned by the largesse and help of others when American servitude was on the line?

  • Did the young William Booth read De Tocqueville's book?
Be sure of this much... God knows !!!

New "OTHERS" Movement Underway

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All this discussion regarding the Salvation Army presents a natural segway into another international movement that is taking place in the Home Based Business arena.

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for individuals and Non Profit Organizations
including the Salvation Army.

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