By January 1880 two Corps were operating in Philadelphia, and delighted with their success the Shirley's collected newspaper clippings about the work and sent them triumphantly to William Booth along with letters requesting him to officially take command of The Salvation Army in America. Though he was pleased and promoted Eliza to Captain; the Shirley's continued requests caused a dilemma. The Army was growing in England it was almost impossible to spare any qualified officer to go to America — a country about which at this time most Englishmen knew nothing, but if he took no action to incorporate this work into his own he would lose control of it; and after all Eliza had gone with something like a promise that he would look at what she was able to start.
At this point the influence of George Scott Railton was crucial. It would seem that he was growing more and more frustrated in his role as William Booth's secretary and as The Salvation Army adopted a more military structure the duties of General Secretary of the Christian Mission shifted to Bramwell Booth, newly installed as Chief of the Staff. Railton also had a powerful ally in Catherine Booth. It was decided that Railton head up the invading force and he chose seven women. The reasoning being that this would show what women could do, and it would ensure, through the marriages he expected each to arrange for herself, that The Salvation Army in America would be American.
This party landed at Castle Garden berth on 10th March 1880, officially beginning the work of The Salvation Army in the United States. After some difficulties the work was established in New York and by the autumn of that year twelve corps were in operation and fifteen hundred had been saved. But time was running out for Railton for in January 1881 he was ordered to return to London, and in spite of pleas to remain eventually he obeyed. It has been said that one of William Booth's great strengths was the ability to remain deaf to the pleas of those about him. What is certain is that the loss of Railton to the pioneer work had serious consequences. It has also been suggested that the recall of Railton threw the organization into complete confusion for five years. What is certain is that William Booth's ability to remain deaf to the pleas of those about him would be partially responsible for two major crises in The Salvation Army in America.
At first the dramatic spread of the Army throughout the country obscured the departure of Railton. He was replaced by Major Thomas E. Moore in June 1881. Thomas Moore was a devoted and enthusiastic officer. He had served as Divisional Officer for London and was no doubt flattered by his appointment to command the American forces. He was determined to carry the War to the farthest corners of the country, an indefatigable traveller, popular and respected by his officers, colourful, sincere, and a successful evangelist. What was unfortunate was that Moore had two defects — one minor, the other catastrophic — regarding his suitability for the post of national commander. The minor defect being that he had little ability, and no interest, in the practical side of administration. He was first and last an evangelist, and he seems to have mostly ignored the need for fund raising and bookkeeping. The major defect was that he never understood the mind of William Booth, who by this time saw The Salvation Army as a living entity circling the globe, and his own authority over it as sacred and inviolable. These two potential problems become real at a logical point; the material wealth of the Army and the question of who owned it.
Under American law at that time, some one 'person' had to hold legal title to everything of value. The American courts had speeded up the process of industrial consolidation by defining corporations as persons entitled to own property. The difficulty lay in the fact that as far as British law and William Booth were concerned, all property was owned by General William Booth; American State Laws were different on the matter of the ownership of property by non-Americans; it was almost impossible for one foreign citizen to own property throughout the United States. Moore had become a naturalised citizen for this very reason and held the legal title to all Salvation Army properties in the United States. He had taken this step purely as an agent of William Booth at least as far as the Army was concerned but in the eyes of the law it all belonged outright to Major Thomas E. Moore as did any liabilities. With hindsight it is clear, and ought to have been clear at the time, that The Salvation Army in the United States should be incorporated. Moore was trying to make this point from early 1882, but it remained unclear to William Booth for years.
In July 1883 Moore filed a preliminary petition for incorporation under the statutes of New York. In part this was to protect headquarters against the corps in New Brunswick, New Jersey which was seeking to incorporate itself under the laws of that state. The corps leaders wanted to avoid charges, which had become public, that money being raised by the Corps to build a new hall was going to Moore personally or to William Booth in London. These charges and a resultant incorporation alarmed Moore, as the corps could then demand any funds already collected and deposited in the regulation way. Should a demand of 'rebel' leaders be refused, as it would be, Moore would be liable for arrest for civil action at any time he happened to be in the State of New Jersey which, considering the pace at which the Army was growing in this State, was almost inevitable. Moore, Captain Emma Westbrook and an unnamed officer travelled to London to urge the case for incorporation on William Booth in person. They were unsuccessful, the principle of divided ownership of Salvation Army property was totally repugnant to him. Then the inevitable happened, Moore was arrested in December 1883 while preaching in Rahway, New Jersey.
By 1884 Moore was driven to drastic action as loyalty to International Headquarters was becoming increasingly cloudy for many in the ranks. Eliza Shirley later recalled that American Salvationists were disappointed when neither William nor Bramwell Booth came to the fourth anniversary celebrations. The failure of the Booth's to expose themselves to an American Salvation Army that knew nothing of them, and of whom they seemed to know almost as little, was a major cause for the widespread support given to Moore later that year.
This conclusion does seem to be supported by the facts. Two Staff-Captains sent by William Booth in July 1884 to give a first hand account of the situation managed only to throw oil on to the flames. They discovered to their horror that The Salvation Army did not have sufficient popular support to enable it to apply for special legislation with any chance of success, and that under the existing laws in New York, any act obtained would place full control of all assets in the hands of local trustees. The suggestion was made that Moore retain the legal rights to property but that he mortgage these to William Booth for more than their market value, thus giving in effect full claim on them to William Booth. This was unlikely to fool anyone and once discovered would bring very bad publicity onto the heads of the leadership of the Salvation Army in America. But at the same time, these visiting officers reported that Moore was not adept at business matters in general, and, even putting to one side the question of incorporation, his accounts were confused, and seven Divisional Commanders added their complaints about this aspect of Moore's leadership to their official report.
In July 1884 the American War Cry carried a notarised statement from William Booth, reaffirming that the legal foundation of the Army — the Deed Poll of 1878 — vested control and direction of the organization solely in the person of William Booth, that all properties of the Army were to be conveyed to and held by the General, and that Moore was his appointed commissioner to direct all salvation Army activities in the United States, including the State of New Jersey, and that Moore would be acting unfaithfully to his high trust if he handed over one cent to certain persons in the city of New Brunswick. Thomas Moore was caught — faithfulness to the General meant jail in New Jersey,'but he was not caught between extremes for long. Completely convinced by the report that Moore was a well meaning bungler, and certain after the Rahway arrest to which another had been added, that Moore was going to incorporate the Army despite his orders, William Booth decided to transfer Moore to South Africa.
It is apparent that Thomas Moore did not wish an open split with William Booth. He was convinced that he was right and that given time and a fait accomli, William Booth would come to accept the fact. However a split was hard to avoid. Sensing a rebellion Booth ordered Major Thomas Coombs, Commander of the Canadian Territory, to rush to New York and to relieve Moore of his command. He was refused admittance at Headquarters. Coombs then telegraphed the American officers that Moore was deposed and that he was in charge. Moore telegraphed soon after with orders to disregard orders from Coombs. This aroused the interest of officers. When Thomas Moore called a meeting at Headquarters in October 1884 to explain his position, as many as were able attended — Moore had taken the precaution of excluding Coombs and the Divisional Commanders who had complained to the Staff Captains in July. He declared willing to take a new command, even South Africa which he personally regarded as an undeserved demotion, if William Booth would accept the necessity of incorporation. Even if those present voted to approve incorporation and he proceeded with it, he assured his listeners that William Booth would still be in absolute spiritual command of the American Army. The vote was 121 in favour and 4 against incorporation. The Salvation Army was incorporated on October 24th 1884. In an uncharacteristic burst of business sense, Moore also registered all Salvation Army insignia, including the Crest, and copyrighted The War Cry.
A five year period of confusion ensued which caused difficulties for Salvationists and sympathizers alike. William Booth, outraged by Thomas Moore's treason, sent Major Frank Smith to take command. He was a man of ability, had been the Divisional Officer in London, loyal to William Booth, and an effective public speaker. This appointment was a mistake for Smith was fiercely zealous and lacked tact and patience. He set up a rival loyal headquarters and issued a loyal War Cry. He had also been given the rank of Commissioner and he dismissed as rebels the large majority of officers who still innocently believed Moore to be in command or who chose to follow him on principle. Ignoring Thomas Moore's very real contribution, Smith stated that his rival had only incorporated the Army to cover his mismanagement and insubordination. Five Divisional Officers and seventeen corps, most of them small and lacking in funds, declared their loyalty to William Booth and the International Army in response to Smith's demand for full surrender. The rest remained with Moore or faded away.
Moore assumed the rank of general over the forces that remained loyal to him, which he named the 'Salvation Army of America' Though he began with several advantages, slowly and inexorably the movement withered and died. There were several reasons for this — despite initial hard work and sacrifice, most of Moore's officers did not attract sufficient funds to survive. The excitement caused by the secession seems to have been localised and brief, and was confined to the eastern states, the Army in the rest of the country was unaffected.
Also Moore's own lack of administrative skills played a part on his army's downfall. His `promotion' to General had not turned him into a financial wizard. Money dried up, the rent on the headquarters was not paid, and in December 1888 the board of trustees — Moore had made The Salvation Army of America more democratic — asked him to resign. When he indignantly refused, they deposed him January 1889. The command was offered to another who refused and then to Colonel Holz, who reluctantly accepted, only as a means to his long cherished dream of reconciliation with the world wide army; and for this reason he did not accept the rank of general but remained a colonel. He promptly opened negotiations. By this time Ballington Booth was in command and he from the beginning was far more conciliatory toward the Moore rebels, he made reconciliation not only possible but attractive. He invited Holz to share platforms with him and acted as though restoration was already a fact. On October 5th 1889, Holz wrote to the officers of The Salvation Army of America, declaring that the Holy Spirit had led him to enter the ranks of the parent Salvation Army. Things were quickly arranged and on October 16th. 1889, in Saratoga, New York, Holz and twenty nine other officers were restored, others quickly followed.
Whilst Moore did keep most of the features of the International Salvation Army, it did differ from the parent by establishing a democratic form of government to elect the General and the trustees; it was also quick to add the sacraments of baptism — by immersion, and the Lord's Supper.
It would seem that for the next two years, the two Armies competed with each other, in opening Corps very often in opposition to each other, but the most interesting events between the two Armies was taking place in the South.
At the end of 1886, the Moore Army made its first appearance in the South when Moore went to Chattanooga and proclaimed to the press that the city would be the headquarters for this part of the country, and possibly for the entire United States, the only problem being that the city was not very hospitable to The Salvation Army of America. A succession of officers abandoned him, causing a lot of embarrassment; though greater success was found in Atlanta and by the middle of 1887 The Salvation Army of America had twelve Corps in the South. Also during this year, Moore appointed Colonel Milton K. Light to oversee the fast developing work in the South; he was to be one of the best leaders in The Salvation Army of America. He had been on Headquarters when the split occurred and left with Moore. He rapidly advanced in rank, and proved his ability to organise and attract people. By dispatching him to the South Moore was guaranteeing the continued prosperity of the work there, for by now The Salvation Army of America was retreating in the east before the continued advances of the International Salvation Army. At about this time The Salvation Army of America held its first mass baptism in the South. Within a month Light had opened a training school, for women only — men trained at corps and married couples had no formal training; sessions lasted about six weeks.
In an effort to extend the Salvation Army of America's influence, Light formed a travelling brigade of Officers known as Christian Crusaders. But even with the advances in the South, all was not going well with The Salvation Army of America at the beginning of 1888. By now the International Salvation Army had gained the upper hand and was winning the wealthier and more populated cities of the east. Over and over again Moore saw his soldiers and officers abandon him. Also he had family problems that were a constant embarrassment to him. His wife refused to wear a uniform and attend meetings. His four sons at best were scoundrels. One, who was an officer, was reported to have had an adulterous affair, and left his wife. Instead of enforcing discipline, Moore assured his army that his son had reformed. It was at this time that The Salvation Army of America took a strange turn in its doctrine. At first The Salvation Army of America maintained doctrines that were identical to the International Salvation Army, then came a marked change in his view of backsliding and holiness: 'We believe that the Scriptures teach that not only does continuance in the favour of God depend upon continued obedient faith in Christ, but that it is possible for those who have been truly pardoned to fall away and be eternally lost; but we do not believe in the backsliding of those who have made a complete surrender to God' All of this brought a growing discontent in his forces. Finally the trustees asked Moore to step down, and when he refused they approached Light, who by now had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General, he chose to stay with Moore; it was then at the trustees approached Holz, who refused the rank, but assumed command.
Some twenty corps stayed with Moore, most of them in the South, but these soon began to falter and one by one they closed; and when the International Salvation Army opened fire in Atlanta in 1890, Light left. Just before the departure of Moore the movement had changed its name from The Salvation Army of America to The Christian Crusaders. This lasted for a few more years in New England under Light's direction, but it too folded. Moore himself resigned from the Christian Crusaders during 1891 and became a Baptist minister. He died in the pulpit on January 7th 1898, in Harper, Kansas.
Not everyone wanted to go back to the International Salvation Army. There a was a split in the American Salvation Army (Holz had given it this name). This splinter group also took the name American Salvation Army and named Thomas Grattan as general. A report in The Saratogian reads: 'Saratoga is now National Headquarters for The Salvation Army of America, and election of seven trustees and two General Officers was held....about fifty stations representing about seventy votes... William V. Grattan was elected General, and R.H. Webster, Lt General... Mrs Staff Captain Grattan will have command of the local barracks. Grattan had worked with Holz at the Mohawk Headquarters. He and his wife had both taken part in the reunification meetings. The War Cry, reporting on the event, states; 'Mrs Captain Grattan spoke with sincerity as well ability, and it was the regret of more than one that she had not entered our ranks' Webster had been Holz's Divisional Commander for New England, and his wife has pioneered the work in Saratoga Springs.
The Articles of Incorporation of the new American Salvation Army lists the following as their objectives: The evangelization of the masses, and the furtherance of religious opinions, and the conversion of all classes and conditions in life to the teachings of the Gospel of our lord and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, and of the work of benevolent, charitable, and missionary purposes' The Saratoga Springs City Directory for 1891 listed "Grattan, William V. general, American Salvation Army" and other sources make it clear that this was more than a local mission.
The full Grattan story is lost, but some has emerged from obscure legal correspondence. Almost twenty years after these events 'General' Grattan rendered a very singular service, long buried in the Archives, but still deserving continued appreciation of the International Salvation Army.
The Saratoga based American Salvation Army had lasted for just a few years, and had ceased operations in late 1893. It seems that his health broke down, and he became pastor of a rural Baptist church in Vermont. He wrote: 'We closed up the work. I laid the matter before our trustees, and we decided it best to stop, but took no formal action, only to write to the Officers that we could not go on, and some went to the original Salvation Army. We had no funds to go on. We owned no property. I myself owned the charter and paid personally for it. The work was entirely suspended'
In 1908 a pseudo-American Salvation Army had arisen in Pennsylvania, under the leadership of a 'General' James W. Duffin. He was a former officer under Thomas Moore and claimed to be in a direct line of succession from William Booth to Thomas Moore to Richard Holz to William Grattan, and therefore the legal owner of the name "The Salvation Army" The best that can be said is that their methods were considerably less than ethical.
Grattan, who by this time was a minister in East Enosburg, Vermont, readily agreed to testify in court that Duffin's Army had no legal connection with the Saratoga American Salvation Army. In fact Duffin was unknown to Grattan. Grattan's testimony was a the key factor in the decision of the court that Duffin's American Salvation Army had no right to the name, that he was prohibited from using it, and that the Booth Army — now commanded by Evangeline Booth — was the only movement legally entitled to call itself `The Salvation Army' Consequently, Duffin's Army was prohibited from using the name. So to William Grattan the present organization is indebted for the legal privilege of using the name by which it is so well known. The former General went further and completed the transaction.
The Saratoga Springs American Salvation Army was still legally in existence. He secured letters of resignation from all of the Trustees, leaving himself as the only legal representative of The American Salvation Army. A letter from the Chief Secretary reports: The charter of The American Salvation Army was held by Mr. Grattan, which he has very kindly turned over to the commander, together with important correspondence... and has also appointed the Commander as General of The American Salvation Army, this power being vested in him by the said charter' He added 'Glad to be of service in this matter, and had I know should have acted sooner. I wish to be remembered gratefully to your dear people . I trust that the acquaintance formed... may bear fruit in pleasant associations of better days to come... May God ever pour out of His Holy Spirit upon the work and effort of The Salvation Army ... Very grateful for the kindness and cordial way in which I was received... I shall be pleased to be in touch with you from time to time'.
So the Saratoga Springs reunification story really ends in 1908, when the very last fragment of the divided American Salvation Army of William Booth but in much less dramatic ceremony that the Holz/Ballington Booth celebration of 1889. Also history has forgotten that Evangeline Booth was given the title of "General" long before she elected as international leader in 1934. (It is interesting to note that the Charter of the American Salvation Army is missing from the archives - was it ordered to be destroyed?)
However this is not the end of the story for the American Salvation Army under the leadership of Duffin continued its activities and their efforts to imitate the International Salvation Army went to the last detail. They used dark blue uniforms, tambourines, drums and bands, published the American Salvation Army War Cry, in fact they would copy everything and anything. The frustration of the leaders of the International Salvation Army were endless. Finally after doggedly pursuing the case in court The Salvation Army won a judgement against the American salvation Army forbidding them to use the term Army, dark uniforms and bonnets, the title War Cry for their magazine as well as other distinctly Salvation Army features, this judgement is still in force. But the American Salvation was not finished, they changed their name to the American Rescue Workers in 1913, the name they still use to this day. They still use military terminology and in their publicity materials they continue to claim roots with The Salvation Army. The 1926 Annual report of the American Rescue Workers gives a different account of events, The organization was first incorporated in the year 1885 as the Salvation Army of America and in 1891 again as the American Salvation Army owing to the similarity of name and methods to that of the English or Booth Salvation Army, court litigation was instituted by them; later an agreement was made with the English Salvation Army that this organization would change its name, providing that the Booth organization would defray the court costs and pay for the changing of all signs, stationery and other necessary things and also they would forever cease to molest the American organization in any way with an understanding that the American organization should revert back to the original name if they should ever be openly interfered with. The agreement being satisfactorily arranged in the year 1913, the American organization changed its name and re-incorporated under the name of the AMERICAN RESCUE WORKERS, its constitution was published and article three of the constitution reads as follows: 'It is, and must ever be, an American institution, recognizing the spirit and justice of the Constitution of the United States, and it is not, and never shall be, controlled or governed by any foreign power whatsoever'
Whatever the real story is the American Rescue Workers did a marvellous work amongst the poor, the needy and the downcast, and by 1950 the American Rescue Workers had 175 Corps, by 1970 the Handbook of Denomination in the United States records that there were 43 Corps and about 5,000 members and by 1990 the American Rescue Workers had become a very pale reflection of The Salvation Army with about 20 Corps in operation. By 2004 I could find only eleven listed on their internet site, in seven north eastern states and they claim 50 commissioned officers. (I requested membership figures from the American Rescue Workers but they declined to give this information to me. I would estimate their total strength at well below a thousand. They also stated that they have no historical records as these were lost in a fire that destroyed the headquarters building, and they do not have the funds to research their own history). These are not corps in the Salvation Army sense, a corps is the name of any building which may house a clothing room or a mission hall. Though they still use ranks, they have traditionally granted advancement of rank for a fee paid to the organization, so there is more than one general. The uniform is usually worn just once a year at the annual convention, and officers are required to hold one religious meeting a week, which can be at any time on any day, not necessarily on a Sunday and this can be a devotional held during soup kitchen meal. It would appear that the current strengths of the organization are minimal, whilst the weaknesses are many: for every operation opened one is closed, the General/Commander in Chief not only oversees the organization but also has to run a Corps. Article Six of their constitution states, The officer in supreme military command shall be designated as the General, or Commander — in — Chief and shall be elected by the Council to serve for a period of ten years. The General in command can only be removed by a vote of three-fourths of the Council. In case of death, removal or otherwise of the General in command, the Board of Directors shall appoint any of their own number, or any one of the officers in command, as General pro tern, until the next regular session of the Council. The Council may then ratify such appointment or elect another General, but in either case the General so elected can only serve from one General Council until the next General Council, until the period shall expire for which the general was originally selected' There are no minimum standards for officers so inferior personnel cause constant embarrassment. If the General gives an officer an order they can simply ignore it, the general does not even have the power to terminate an officer's position but only after clearing it with a committee. The freedom of the officer's on the American Rescue Workers field is exactly what is making it die.
This raises the question of what went wrong? They were a near perfect carbon copy of The Salvation Army, sharing the same ideals and mission, yet they have declined miserably. Could it be that the American Rescue Workers are on the way out because they are too democratic and that whilst democracy will work for nations it fails when applied to organizations' I wonder if we are not looking at the future history of The Salvation Army and that we could go the way of this lost tribe; and that the words of Commissioner Brengle at the Commissioner's Conference in 1930 will prove to be prophetic, 'Furthermore in seeking reform, let us not lose sight of the fact that we are an Army, and if authority is too greatly decentralized the Army may degenerate into a mob. Then every man will do what is right is his own eyes, or pleasing or convenient to himself.
BibliographyMcKinley, Edward H. - Marching To Glory. The History of The Salvation Army in the United States. The First Hundred Years 1880-1980
McKinley, Edward H. - Marching To Glory. The History of The Salvation Army in the United States 1880-1992
Satterlee, Allen - Sweeping Through the Land. A History of The Salvation Army in the Southern United States
Satterlee, Allen - 'It Could Happen To Us' published in The Officer September 1990
Waldron and Kisser - Healing Waters unpublished
AcknowledgementsCaptain (Cadet) Nigel Byrne my thanks, for bringing The American Rescue Workers to my attention. The Salvation Army Heritage Centres in Washington and Atlanta, my thanks for photocopying and forwarding information in their archives. Gordon Taylor of The International Centre for responding with kindness and courtesy to my requests. Major David Pickard for his helpful and insightful comments.
Copyright 2004 Major Michael Farrow and Christian Mission Historical Association.