The Salvation Army began its ministry in the United States in October 1879. Lieutenant Eliza Shirley left England to join her parents, who migrated to America earlier in search of work. She held meetings that were so successful that General William Booth sent Commissioner George Scott Railton and seven women officers to the United States in March 1880 to formalize the effort. Their initial street meeting was held on the dockside at Battery Park in New York City the day they arrived.

In only three years, operations had expanded into Califormia, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Family services, youth services, elderly services and disaster services are among the many programs offered in local communities throughout the United States, in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands and Guam.

The National Headquarters was incorporated as religious and charitable corporation in the State of New Jersey in 1982 as "The Salvation Army National Corporation" and is qualified to conduct its affairs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.