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demand such a statement, but that time is not yet.


Family Hierarchy and its Failure The First Salvation Army Split
A Booth rises against a Booth Ballington Booth against General
Booth's System A Dramatic Combat between Brother and Sister
in New York A Second Son's Rebellion The Story of the Clib-
borns' Secession Why the General does not see his Children
A Reconciliation Proposal

GENERAL BOOTH has been a man of sorrows. He has
walked the streets of London without the proverbial
sixpence in his pocket. He has drunk the bitter gall of
tyranny ; known what it is to be oppressed, distressed,
and cast down ; experienced some of the tragedies of
the City clerk ; and worked at the problem of living on
next to nothing. In his career as a preacher, he sur-
vived the drudgery and respectable poverty of a
travelling Methodist parson fifty years ago ; and, with
the aid of a domestic genius, provided a large family
with a fair education ; and, saddest chapter of all in
the book of his life, he has felt the bitter pang of un-
utterable sorrow, on account of the failures of some
of his children to realise his ambitions for the idol of
his life the Salvation Army.

General Booth believed, and, for all I know, still
believes, not only that he and his partner, but all their
offspring, were appointed by Providence to shape,



mould, and bequeath to the world of sin and misery
a New Hope.

" Every hair on my head and every ounce of blood
in my veins, and all that I have for time and eternity
wife, children, and grandchildren, born and to be born
are God's and the Salvation Army's. I know
nothing among men but the ' Blood and Fire.' I
have no pleasure, no joy or sorrow, and no home, no
friends, and no children outside the Salvation Army."

I have heard him use these words or their equivalent
over and over again.

The saddest day in the career of the General was
jiot when the sun of his life went out on October 4,
1890 (the day when "the Mother of the Army"
passed away), but when the unity of his family was
broken by the secession of one of his children from
the Flag. Ever since the General has worn a sad
look. For it must be remembered that the children
were cradled and educated in the spirit of an extreme,
anti-worldly Christianity. They were taught to
believe that their mission in the world was to be that
of soul-savers, and as they rose to maturity, one and
all distinguished an individuality of character that
was inspired by the dominating ideal that has mastered
their parents, saving souls. A more remarkable
family in the service of humanity it would be hard to
find in the history of Christian enterprise.

The officers and soldiers of the Salvation Army
recognised their superiority ungrudgingly and re-
ligiously. An article of faith with Salvationists for
many years was the unity, love, and self-sacrificing


lives of the General's family ; they pointed to it as
an article of faith in their Salvationism. Many of the
General's staff officers, it is true, felt that the parents
were too ready to place their boys and girls in respon-
sible positions before they were qualified to fill them.
It was easy, however, to condone such weakness
because of the rare ability displayed by them. They
were all able speakers, daring leaders, and they
gradually became remarkable administrators and
attractive personalities on the platform. They were
superior, educationally, to the bulk of the officers,
and by the time they were placed in independent
commands they had shown the qualities of real states-

I deal elsewhere with the eldest of the family,
Mr. Bramwell Booth, a truly able man. Ballington,
the next son, was beloved by all. While in command
of the Training Home at Clapton he was held in a sort
of adoration by all the lads. He had the luring gift
of a hypnotist over them. He was the most human
of all the members of his family. He wept over the
little slips of his men, laughed with them, and fought
and lived with them when they left the Home for the

If he visited a Corps he had no ambition to be made
a hero in the drawing-rooms of Christian society. He
preferred to eat and sleep with the officers in their
humble apartments.

And he was such an attraction on a platform !
He could play with an audience as a Paderewski can
with his instrument. His anecdotes and solos (the


latter to the accompaniment of an English concertina)
won him a way into the hearts of all. He was, in
short, a combination of the warm sympathy of his
mother and the magnetic personality of his father.

At the age of twenty-five he went to Australia as
joint Commander of the work there, and was foolishly
idolised. He returned to England, married Miss Maud
Charlesworth, the daughter of a clergyman of the
Church of England, a lady endowed with the qualifica-
tions of a Demosthenes, and when they took command
of the Army's work in America no prophet was needed
to foretell their success as leaders, and their possible
apostasy from the cast-iron system of the movement
as it had begun to develop in England that is, from
an American standpoint.

The Americanisation of their views came into conflict
with the international system of control. At the end
of eight years' service an order came from the General
which they thought both unreasonable and unwise.
It was an order to say farewell to the command of the
United States and be prepared to assume another.

Now this, it is no exaggeration to state, came as a
thunderbolt from the blue. The Americans were not
prepared for it. It was well known that Mr. and Mrs.
Ballington Booth could be made no exception to the
law of the Army with respect to change. But in view
of the fact that the Ballingtons had redeemed the
cause in the States from ignominy for it had been rent
again and again by dissension before they took charge
and that they had built an imposing Headquarters
near Union Square, and were personce gratce with official


and governing bodies throughout the country, and
that gradually the movement was rising to a position
of respect among the Churches ; the staff and field
officers looked upon the act of parting from their Com-
mander as almost insane, and thoroughly English.

Then the order came at a very awkward moment in
the relations of the United States and Great Britain.
The tension over the Venezuelan controversy was so
intense that one Saturday afternoon a howling mob
assembled outside the Headquarters of the Army in
West Fourteenth Street, and shouted, "Down with
the English Army." English officers were hooted as
they walked about the streets, and hissed when they
rose to speak or offer explanations of the crisis that had
arisen in their ranks.

The newspapers, of course, did not make the task
of the peace plenipotentiaries, despatched by the
General to New York, any easier.

But what led to the final wrench was probably the
appearance of Mr. Ballington's brother Herbert on
the scene. At the time Commandant Herbert Booth
was in charge of the operations of the Army in Canada.
He was not popular there, and this was common know-
ledge in the United States. When therefore he, as a
representative of the family, as well as the Inter-
national Headquarters, ran over, in disguise, from
Toronto to New York to try to persuade Mr. and
Mrs. Ballington Booth to accept the order of their
father and leave America, the last element of disturb-
ance to a painful situation was introduced. As in
many families, even in this ; a member of the Booth


family only served to kindle a new flame of resentment
on the part of the Balling tons towards Headquarters
in London. It was an open secret that it was the in-
tention of the General to confer the command of the
United States upon Herbert ; but if he ever had any
chance of becoming an acceptable leader, he lost it by
his interference in this dispute.

Now, what was the nature of the dispute ? The
question is of world-wide interest, in view of possible
defections in the future. It would be unwise to enter
at any length upon the separation of the son from
the father. This is not a history of the internal
relationships of the Booth family. The broad facts,
which are of legitimate public interest, may be briefly

It is customary in the Salvation Army to change the
- leaders of countries every five years. Owing to special
circumstances the building of a National Head-
quarters, etc. the General gave his son Ballington
an extension of three years, and at the end of that time
issued marching orders to him, and, as it happened, to
^ twenty other Territorial Commissioners, all of whom
accepted their orders with unqualified acquiescence.
' The exception was the General's son Ballington.

" What will the General do ? " That question was
on the lips of every Salvationist. If he conceded the
wish of the son and the American Staff, there was an
end of discipline. If he insisted upon his command
being carried out, there would be a serious split in the
States, and the advance of the Army would once more
be retarded for a number of years, while the Army


would lose two of its most popular and efficient officers,
and the General a brilliant son and daughter.

The Salvation Army world looked on the combat
that followed with bewilderment. The Army was not, of
course, taken into confidence upon the issues, and has
not from the day of the son's secession to this. They
only knew that, for some mysterious reason, a Booth
'had risen against the command of a Booth a son had
defied a father. Such a contingency had not entered
their wildest dreams. Was he not the man who had
insisted upon the doctrine of implicit obedience from
hundreds of cadets who had received their commission
at his hands both in the United States and in England ?
It was unthinkable.

To make matters worse, the General at the time of
the rebellion of his son was in India. Time passed on.
The day of Ballington's farewell was fixed, and the
great Carnegie Hall in New York was leased to give
him and his wife a popular and representative send-off .
But the rumbling sounds of war were heard. The
Staff officers were almost to a man opposed to the
change, and they determined to unite and force the
hand of London. They appealed against the decision.
They were kindly but firmly told that the controversy
had entered upon a stage that almost involved the
existence of the Army itself ; and, to the credit of the
American Staff, they recognised that aspect of the situa-
tion. They perceived that if the General insisted upon
the farewell of twenty Commissioners who did not
bear his name, and yet permitted his son to remain in
charge of the States, there would at once be a justifica-


tion for the criticism that was felt to contain a big grain
of truth at that period, namely, that the Army was
a family concern, and that all the talk of international
unity and a world-wide Army was so much window-

But then the American Staff thought a compromise
could be effected. The question of obedience to the
vow that their leader had made did not appeal to
them as it did to other members of the great Salvation
Army family. The American Salvationists are too
matter-of-fact, and accustomed to consider a case on
its merits ; they were not swayed by what a man
might promise an organisation twenty years before,
and on that ground they thought that their leaders had
a fair case. As usually happens when a religious revo-
lution breaks out in a denomination, a number of side
issues are imparted to the discussion and certain per-
sonal elements aggravate the situation. It was so
in this schism.

Into these it is unnecessary to enter. The great fact
is that at this time the controversy crystallised into a
fight between the One United Salvation Army and the
American preference for Mr. and Mrs. Ballington
Booth, the simplicity of whose home life and the
devotion of whose lives had raised the organisation
to a high pedestal of respect in the Union. It would
have been a splendid struggle had it been possible to
keep out the personal and family element ; for on the
one side, arrayed against the authority with its arm
of power in London, were national prejudice and in
no part of the world can that be expressed with such


sharpness of speech and with such hot feeling as in
America and personal hero-worship. On the other
hand was the General, evidently showing for the first
time in his career what he meant the Salvation Army
to be independent of family influence, governed by
one code of commands, no respecter of person or
country, and determined to be in reality world-wide
in its unity with one faith, one aim, one flag, and
one General.

A curious feature of the conflict was the number of
American-born officers who were on the side of the
General, though he had not always appeared to
advantage either in officers' councils or in public
meetings. They thought him domineering and too
English, but admired his fighting qualities, and he
was getting an old man and was respected throughout
the world. His stoutest opponents in the struggle for
unity were some of his own nominees trained in the
English Training College at Clapton.

It may be asked, what was Mr. Ballington Booth's
position ? Perhaps the clearest answer to that
question is conveyed in the words of Mr. Ballington
Booth himself : they were spoken on the day when
he decided to see the Chief of the Staff in London
'* before taking the separation step. He and his wife
had spent a sleepless and yet prayerful night. They
resolved, at the close of their final review of the
circumstances, to carry their grievances to London.
Mr. Ballington and I were waiting at Mount Clair
Station, New Jersey, for the suburban train to take
us to New York, where he intended to despatch a


cable with the gratifying news that he would see his
brother, Mr. Bramwell Booth, before making the final
wrench. This, I thought, was an important step
towards reconciliation, as I had imagined up till then
that the two brothers were not altogether in harmony
with each other.

I asked him to put his principal grievance against
his father in a nutshell.

Mr, Ballington replied : "I think that is a fair
question, A difference such as has arisen ought to be
put into a few words. Well, I will tell you. I wave
aside personal questions, which my brother has
foolishly allowed to colour his vision. I will even con-
cede that there is something to be said on both sides.
I will also put aside the question of the Americanisation
of the Army and the false charge that Maudie (Mrs.
Ballington Booth) has played for the support of the
rich at the risk of thwarting the making of simple
Salvation soldiers. I resent that charge strongly.
You have seen the simplicity of our home, our dress,
and our lives. We are the same wherever we go,
whether among millionaires in New York or among
the toughs of the Bowery. Brush aside all these and
other semi-personal aspects of the controversy, and
what have we left ? A grave fundamental principle
separates me from the International Headquarters.
Long experience on this continent has taught me that
England does not understand America any more
than America understands England. Yet we are being
governed as if America was part of England. It is
true that we speak the same language, pay homage to
the same literature, and profess the same religion;
but there is as much difference between the American

Copyright, Bo Ink.



and the English nation as there is between the French
and German. The one subject that separates me in
spirit from my father, as General, is the system that
he persists in developing to the detriment of the work
in America. I can go, nay, I will go, to London and
repeat this objection to my brother, the Chief of the
Staff, although I fear that such a visit will only prolong
the strife and intensify the difference between us.

" That, then, is the bone of contention. I have no
quarrel against Mr. Bramwell Booth. He is a gentle-
man, a competent executive officer, an able administra-
tor, a man of vast experience in handling men, and he
is a loyal son and soldier to his father and General.
He is a thorough system- worker. But mark this : it is
not the system-worker I object to, it is the system,
and the author and upholder of that system is my
father. My quarrel is with him, and if he is not com-
pelled to admit the despotism of his system before he
passes away his successors will live to curse it."

Within an hour of the delivery of this striking
statement a cable was received intimating that
Mr. Ballington's sister, Miss Evangeline Booth, was
on her way to America, in the hope of bringing about
a reconciliation between the Ballingtons and the
General. That was an act that sealed Mr. Ballington's
resolve to leave the ship. He considered the coming
of his younger sister an insult, and from that moment
he ceased to take the slightest interest in the discussion
of the questions at issue. We know the sequel.

The actual blow r at the union of the Army in the
United States fell with the cancelling of the Carnegie
Hall farewell meeting. That was the signal that all


pourparlers at peace were futile. Then a dramatic
event followed the publication of a manifesto by
William Bramwell Booth, Chief of the Staff in London.
In the name of his father he accepted the challenge
of his brother^and published broadcast a flamboyant
call to all officers to be true to their pledges and stand
by the One Flag. It was a master-stroke of daring,
and for a moment stunned even the Press of America,
for it found an echo in the breast of many Americans,
who endorsed the claim of the General to be obeyed.
But for that they would have despised it ; was it not
forged in " the bureaucratic fortress of the Army in
London " ?

This manifesto convinced Ballington and his wife
that behind the parleying was a strong and even
terrible hand of power ; the blow unnerved them.
Plans had been laid for a general revolt of officers,
and the capture of the organisation in the States
and the institution of a rival Army. Ninety officers
had given a tacit assent to the design, and were only
waiting for their leader to summon them to action.
But, like many a protester in the past, Mr. Ballington
wavered, and while he did so another Booth appeared
on the stage with the magnetism of a charming
personality and a reputation for being an ideal Salva-
tionist. The Field Commissioner Miss Evangeline
Booth had been hurriedly despatched by her father
to make a final appeal to the Ballingtons, failing which
she was authorised to assume the direction of affairs,
pending the permanent appointment of a responsible
leader. With the quickness of thought she grasped


the main principles of the position, and fought the
opposition that had taken concrete form with an
alacrity and persuasiveness that captured waverers,
and even one or two prominent and avowed an-

One scene in her endeavour to win over the re-
calcitrant members of the National Staff is engraven
upon my memory. The Ballingtons had suddenly
emerged from a hiding-place and appeared some
said they had captured the Army's Headquarters in
West Fourteenth Street and about a hundred officers
were on the premises, expecting the crucial moment
to arrive when the secession would assume definite
form. Mr. and Mrs. Ballington Booth were accom-
panied by a member of the legal profession and staff
officers who had signified their opposition to the
London regime.

I was a spectator of their proceedings, and, on
perceiving the drift of affairs, I at once communicated
with Miss Booth, who, owing to the physical strain
of the situation, had been compelled to seek some
quiet in rooms behind the building. There was some
danger that her health might collapse.

As I hurried to her apartments I was intercepted
by supporters of the seceders and informed that, in an
hour, we should have to look elsewhere for shelter !
Though I knew that that was legally impossible, it
required no foresight to see that the battle royal
between the two parties must be fought there and then.
Though not in supreme command I was only one of
two peace plenipotentiaries there are moments when


even a subordinate must initiate steps that may lead
to calamity or victory. This was one. I scampered
over a wall, rushed a back-door entrance leading to
Miss Booth's rooms, and demanded that she should
at once come to Headquarters. Her attendant
remonstrated, and I was threatened with excommuni-
cation for daring to suggest that a sick woman should
face another wrangle that day (there had been two
wordy encounters in the former part of the day with
the Staff). But living or dead, she had to come, and
I am glad to say that with a calmness and self-posses-
sion that could hardly be excelled, Miss Booth followed
the directions given her, ascended to the fourth floor
by the elevator, and demanded admission to the
room where the staff officers in view of what
followed I will not call them conspirators were

She was refused admission. Knowing the structural
arrangements of the building, I succeeded in obtaining
an entrance for her, though the process was somewhat
undignified, for I knew that when once inside, all the
skill of the most inveterate opponent of the London
policy would not get her out until she had discharged
her message to them.

It was a dramatic moment. Imagine a body of
smart, indignant, plotting men and women closeted
here, waiting for and expecting every moment that
their former leader (now in conference with his legal
and rebel friends in an adjoining room) would come
forth with the guarantees that he would start a rival
organisation and call upon all present to sign a declara-


tion of faith ! To all appearance, in a few moments,
a blow would be hurled at the only religious organisa-
tion in the United States that declared that self-
government meant one government, and that outside
the territory of the Stars and Stripes !

Dramatic, indeed ; it was tragic !

In one room sat the brother, hesitating as to whether
he would undo the work that had been accomplished
in the name of his father. In the very next room
was his young sister, tear-stricken, placid, pale, and
yet courageous a lamb among wolves begging for a
calm reconsideration of the position. Ballington's
sanctuary represented a policy of separation and dis-
ruption ; in the warrior-child's a struggle for unity was
about to end in defeat or triumph. A family and an
army divided.

" Comrades," Miss Booth said in an earnest tone,
when she had passed into the presence of the would-be
mutineers, " will you kindly let me have one word
before you break your vows as soldiers of the Flag,
men and women whose names have stood among the
poor and homeless and vicious as saviours, helpers of
the helpless just a word ? "

There was a murmur and a pause. The wife of a
Brigadier put her handkerchief to her eyes. Was she
thinking that she owed to the Army a reformed husband
and a happy home ? Perhaps. At any rate, she said
to one by her side, " Bob, give Miss Booth a chance."
And the good soul was speedily rewarded with a smile
from Miss Booth that she afterwards told me would
never be forgotten.


The General's daughter proceeded :

" Thank you ! I am not come here to coerce one
officer. You are Americans. The right to have and to
hold an opinion of your own is your greatest heritage.
I respect it. I am not here to argue the merits of the
unfortunate dispute between my father, the General,
and my brother, your late Commander. The time for
that has passed. I will say nothing about the grey
hairs that are turning white on that noble head as we
stand here, of the heart that is bleeding, of the mother
who is surely looking down from heaven upon her
son in the next room, and his little sister here, pleading
that the life's work of my father may be kept unbroken
by disruption.

" Some of you are fathers. The boys and girls by
your side to-day will grow up to honour you, I hope,
and I pray that they may be worthy of their consecra-
tion and the example that you have set before them.
But, as parents, you will know what the General must

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Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 16 of 25)