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12017-04-11T18:59:06-07:00History of The Salvation Army in the United States14Salvation Army in the United Statesplain4223502017-04-22T14:56:26-07:00 On March 10, 1880, the official envoy of the Salvation Army made its way to the shores of America. Arriving aboard the steamer Australia, led by George Scott Railton, the “splendid seven” from London had arrived to launch a great crusade. Railton sent by “General” William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army in London, to carry the gospel of his militant, fast growing, group.
However, Railton was not the first member of the Salvation Army to arrive in America. Six months before the Railton expedition, another family, the Shirley’s had arrived and established themselves in Philadelphia. In fact, it was these original members of the Army and some of their converts that met Railton when he arrived. Made his expedition that much more successful.
Back to the Shirley’s. The most influential member of the family was Eliza. Being only 16 years old when she began to follow the preachings of William Booth. She quickly rose through the ranks of “army”, and was commission a lieutenant at 17 years old. At first, her parents, Amos and Annie Shirley, were not sure they approved of her being part of the Army, but later converted as she did. Her father Amos, in 1879, left Eliza and Annie in London and immigrated to America in hopes of building a better life here. After settling and getting a job, he sent for both to join him. When he sent for his wife and daughter, Eliza did not want to leave the Army behind. However, her father's description of the ungodliness he found in America convinced her that the Army was needed. She called on General William Booth and asked permission to start the work in America. This was the first establishment of the Salvation Army in America.
Eliza set out in earnest to spread the faith of the Army throughout the land. Her first “mission” was set up on October 5, 1879. Eliza and her mother Annie placed flyers around Philadelphia proclaiming that, “Two Hallelujah Females”-as Amos would not allow them to write “women” or “lassies”-would be “speaking and singing on behalf of God and Precious Souls.” This event was to take place at the new “Salvation Factory”, as they had taken over the old furniture factory in the city.
From this humble beginning, the Salvation Army began to grow in America. General Booth seeing the good work of Eliza, raised her rank to Captain but knew that he could not keep responding to all her requests for more assistance. This was when Railton came into play. Railton, being the secretary of Booth, was able to influence Booth into establishing the expedition that arrived in March 1880.
With both Railton and Eliza working in tandem, the Army began to spread throughout America. They were able to establish the WAR CRY, a publication from the Salvation Army that originated in London, which told the workings and dealings of the Salvation Army. First started as the Salvation News, but quickly went to the name War Cry to stay true to the originals in England.
The Salvation Army continued to grow from these two individuals to a fundraising power, who assisted citizens, soldiers, and anyone else in need. Eliza's importance was highlighted in the 1930s when the Chicago Cubs held a moment of silence in her memory after her death.