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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Salvation Army

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A religious philanthropic organization founded by William Booth, who in 1865 began to hold meetings for preaching in the streets in London and in tents, music halls, theatres and other hired buildings. Large numbers attended, many of whom had never entered a place of worship, and presently an 'organized society was formed called "The Christian Mission." Booth was assisted by his wife, Catherine Booth, a woman of remarkable gifts, who won for the new movement the sympathy of many among the cultured classes. In 1878 the Mission, which had spread beyond London, was reorganized on a quasi-military basis, and the title of "The Salvation Army" was definitely adopted in June 1880. The local societies became "Corps," and their evangelists "Field Officers," with Booth as "General" of the whole body. The spiritual operations of the Army at once rapidly expanded in spite of much disorderly opposition in some places. In 1878 there were 75 corps and 120 officers in the United Kingdom, the amount contributed by the outside public being £1925. Since then the number of corps and officers has greatly increased. Very large numbers who have "professed conversion" are reported annually. No figures of membership, however, are published. In doctrine, the Army is in harmony with the main principles of the evangelical bodies, "as embodied in the three creeds of the Church." Its preaching is practical and direct, asseverating the reality of Sin, "the everlasting punishment of the wicked," and Redemption. The Army proclaims the supreme duty of self-sacrifice for the sake of the salvation of others.

The Army is under the control of the General for the time being, who issues all orders and regulations. Large powers devolve upon other officers, such as the "Chief of the Staff," the "Foreign Secretary," and the "Chancellor," who direct affairs from the "International Headquarters" in London. The system of government is autocratic, "unquestioning obedience" being required throughout all ranks. The Army is divided, usually in harmony with national boundaries, into "territories," each under a "Commissioner," with headquarters in the capital of the country. The Territories are generally divided into "Provinces" and these again into "Divisions," which include a number of corps, each supporting its own "Captain" and "Lieutenant." The "soldiers" or members are drawn from all classes of the community. The property of the Army in the United Kingdom is held by the General for the time being, for the benefit of the Army exclusively, he being constituted the sole trustee of the property, in the disposal of which and in the appointment of his successor he is placed under the government of a deed poll, executed by Booth while the body was still known as "The Christian Mission," and enrolled in the Court of Chancery in August 1878. In other countries various modifications have been necessary, but the General's ultimate control has been practically assured. A further deed poll providing for the removal of a General in the contingency of "mental incapacity" or other "unfitness," and for the election of a successor, was executed by Booth in July 1904.

Funds are raised from the voluntary offerings of the corps, from open-air and other collections, from friends interested in evangelical and charitable work, and from the profits on publications and general trading. The financial statements of the various national headquarters funds are annually published, certified by public accountants, in each country. In 1909 the general income and expenditure account of International Headquarters in London dealt with a total of £64,345. Details of the aggregate income raised in the United Kingdom by the corps are not published. The annual Self-Denial offering (Great Britain) was £12,663 in 1888, f72,562 in 1906 and £69,034 in 1910. The value of the assets of the spiritual work in the United Kingdom increased from £558,992 in 1891 to £1,357,706 in 1909, the liabilities on account of loans upon mortgage and otherwise amounting at the latter date to £662,235. The assets of the Trade Departments were valued at £110,657 in 1909.

Corps and



and Cadets.

The British Isles. ... .


3,191 1

The United States



South America and West Indies



Canada and Newfoundland .



Australasia and Java. .



India, Ceylon, Japan and Korea .



South Africa and St Helena .



France, Belgium, Switzerland and

Italy .



Germany and Holland



Sweden, Norway, Finland ,'Denmark

and Iceland. .. .



Gibraltar and Malta.. .



Total. .



Statistics of Spiritual Operations ( Compiled from the "S.A. Year Book, 1910"). Employees (without rank), 6269.

1 Officers and employees (British Isles), 7538.

Booth's scheme for Social Relief, described in In Darkest England, and the Way Out (1890), attracted wide-spread interest, and was started with subscriptions amounting to over £ioo,000. A separate deed poll, making the General sole trustee, was executed by Booth in regard to the property and funds of this branch of work. Since then, both in Great Britain and abroad, the scheme has been actively carried on. The amount received in the year ending 30th September 1909 for cheap food and lodging in the United Kingdom was returned at £42,022 for the men's work, and £6417 for the women's. Large numbers of unemployed, ex-criminal and other needy persons have been aided or dealt with. In the year ending 30th September 1909, the number of persons received into the "elevators" or factories was reported as 6425, of women and girls received into rescue homes as 2559. The farm colony at Hadleigh in Essex has a large acreage under cultivation, with fruit and market gardens and various industrial undertakings. The emigration department, although a development of the Darkest England Scheme, has no connexion with the rescue work; in 1907 the passage money received amounted to £85,014, and in 1909 to £38,179. An "anti-suicide bureau" was opened in 1907, and at Boxted, near Colchester, a scheme for Small Holdings has been initiated. In 1909 the value of the property held under the Darkest England Scheme in the United Kingdom was returned at £329,645, and the income of the central fund at £50,594.

Summary of Social Operations throughout the World (Compiled from the "S.A. Year-Book, 1910"). There are a number of subsidiary branches of work, such as the Young People's Legion, and the Naval and Military League for work among men in the military, naval and merchant services. In England there is a bank (the Reliance Bank, Ltd.) and a Life Assurance Society, the funds of the latter amounting to £566,309 in 1909. All officers and many of the rank and file wear a uniform. Music is universally employed. While the organization has succeeded in securing recognition and favour in high places both in England and abroad, it has been seriously criticized at times, notably by Huxley and others in 1890-1891, and more recently by J. Manson in The Salvation Army and the Public, a work which led to much public discussion of the Army's religious, social and financial operations and methods. In 1910 some resignations took place among the higher officials.

Number of Institutions.


Kingdom .






Men's Work

Shelters and Food Depots .





Labour Bureaus .





Labour Homes and Factories .





Ex-criminal Homes. .

.. 1




Farm Colonies.. .





Women's Work

Rescue and Maternity Homes .





Shelters and Food Depots





Children's Homes and Creches .




Slum Post




Other Social Institutions. .





Total Institutions .






William Booth, Orders and Regulations for Soldiers; Orders and Regulations for Field Officers; Orders and Regulations for Staff Officers; Salvation Soldiery; Interview with W. E. Gladstone; In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890); Bramwell Booth, Social Reparation; Servants of All (1899); Booth-Tucker, The Life of Catherine Booth (1892); Railton, Heathen England; Twenty-one Years' Salvation Army; Arnold White, Truth about the Salvation Army (1892, 1900 and 1906); The Great Idea (1909; 2nd ed., 1910); T. F. G. Coates, The Life Story of General Booth (2nd ed., 1906); Harold Begbie, Broken Earthenware (1909); various reports and accounts; The War Cry, The Social Gazette, The Salvation Army Year Book, &c. Criticism; Thomas H. Huxley, "Social Diseases and Worse Remedies" in Collected Essays, vol. ix. (1895); John Total number of officers engaged exclusively in social work, 2520.

1 In the United Kingdom ex-criminals are now received in the ordinary labour homes and factories.

Manson, The Salvation Army and the Public (1906; 3rd ed., 1908); Salvation Army Headquarters, A Calumny Refuted: A Reply to the Unfounded Charges of Sweating, &c. (1908); United Workers' AntiSweating Committee, Salvation Army Sweating: A Reply to the Mis-statements of General Booth and his Officials (1908; 2nd ed., 1910); Reports of the Trades Union Congress (1907 to 1910).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Salvation Army'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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