top of page
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.

Mar 28 AshBarrell Jimmie and the US Salvation Army

Today in 1885 the Salvation Army was officially organized in the USA, a year later it was endorsed by President Grover Cleveland. We look at how they established themselves in New York through Ashbarrel Jimmie. Very high profile at Christmas time, they assist approximately 23 million Americans annually although the litiginous climate in the US is making charitable work much more complicated.

The church has an extensive outreach of local programs designed to offer immediate relief, short-term care, and long-term growth in a variety of areas. They are probably most recognised for their annual ‘Help Save Christmas Campaign’ where they raise money and direct resources to those struggling during Christmas . The familiar use of bell ringers to solicit donations from passers-by and the thousands of volunteers with red kettles stationed near retail stores during the weeks preceding Christmas for fundraising are now a quintessential part of Christmas in North America.

The Salvation Army was founded twenty years earlier in London's East End in by one-time Methodist William Booth and his wife Catherine Booth. In 1880, the Salvation Army started its work in three others countries: Australia, Ireland, and the United States. Salvationists set out for the US in 1880, and when George Scott Railton and his team arrived they started work in Harry Hill's Variety Theatre. Their first notable convert was Ashbarrel Jimmie who had so many convictions for drunkenness that the judge sentenced him to attend the Salvation Army. The Army was in its pioneering days, having just arrived in New York City. Jimmy Kemp, who became Captain James Kemp, was a severe alcoholic and petty criminal, got the moniker, ‘Ash Barrel Jimmy’, for supposedly falling into a barrel, outside a tavern whilst trying to retrieve his hat. After spending a night in jail for public drunkenness, he was brought before a magistrate who took pity on him, sparing him from further jail time if he agreed to seek out the services of The Salvation Army. As societies understanding of the addiction to Alcohol has increased, the Salvation Army continue this work now with Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Harbor Light programs across the world. Each local church is revered to using the military term Corp, the Salvation army corps in New York was founded as a result of Jimmys' rehabilitation. As a denomination they started to become well known in America as a result of the disaster relief efforts following the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history and left about 8000 fatalities. Their fame also increased in light of the assistance provided after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which destroyed 80% of the city. Then in 1917, over 250 Salvation Army volunteers went overseas to France to provide supplies and baked goods, including doughnuts, to American soldiers. The women who served donuts to the troops fried them in soldiers' helmets. They became known as "Doughnut Lassies" and are credited with popularising doughnuts in the United States. National Doughnut Day is now celebrated on the first Friday of June every year, starting in Chicago of 1938, to honour those who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War l.

In 1900, there were 108,000 lawyers and judges in the U.S, now it is estimated to be 1.33million. The litigious climate has therefore intensified and operating as a church which has an extensive charitable outreach has become much more complicated. In 2004, the Salvation Army's New York division was named in a lawsuit filed by 18 current and former employees of its social service arm, claiming that the organisation asked about the religious and sexual habits of employees in programs funded by local and state government. One member claimed the organisation forced them to agree "to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Proselytising or otherwise pursuing religious motives in a government-funded program is generally considered a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. While the employment-discrimination portion of the lawsuit was dismissed in 2005, government agencies agreed in a 2010 settlement to set up monitoring systems to ensure that the Army did not violate church–state separation in its publicly funded projects. The church is having to quickly change its practices, the organisation did not dispute allegations that nine-year-olds in a city-funded foster care program were put through a "confirmation-like" ceremony, where they were given Bibles and prayed over.


bottom of page