The Shorter Writings of William Booth
Edited By Andrew M Eason and Roger J. Green
Chapter 1. Origins and Early Days
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Origins and Early Days
The Salvation Army’s origins lie in the East End of London, where William Booth—a former Methodist minister—began to preach in the summer of 1865. Booth’s return to the English capital was thanks to his wife Catherine, a gifted itinerant evangelist, who, months earlier, had accepted a preaching invitation at a Methodist chapel in Rotherhithe, a southeast suburb of London. After a series of successful meetings there, Catherine went on to accept several other engagements in the London area during the first half of 1865. These opportunities ultimately proved to be providential for William, because Catherine’s preaching attracted the attention of Richard Cope Morgan and Samuel Chase, the publishers of The Revival, a weekly periodical devoted to documenting and promoting the cause of mid-Victorian revivalism. Even more importantly, Morgan and Chase were members of the East London Special Services Committee, an independent evangelical body devoted to missionary work in the inner-city. Not long after coming into contact with Catherine, they enlisted William for a short preaching campaign in a tent pitched on a Quaker burial site in Whitechapel.1
This would be a demanding assignment, given the East End’s well-publicized socio-economic problems. In the words of one historian, this part of London “had the worst slums, the worst overcrowding, the worst death rates.”2 Although the area was not uniformly poor, the majority of its residents found life to be a daily struggle....
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