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When William Booth first started The Salvation Army in 1865, he preached hope and salvation to a poor congregation of thieves, prostitutes, drunkards and others who were not allowed to attend other churches. The converts began work to save others like themselves, preaching and singing in the streets in the slums of London.The Salvation Army was given its name in 1878 when General Booth, looking through the group’s annual report, noticed the statement, "the Christian Mission under the (sic) Superintendent's of the Rev. William Booth is a volunteer army." He crossed out the words "volunteer army" and penned in "Salvation Army."

When church member Lieutenant Eliza Shirley moved to Philadelphia in 1879, she held The Salvation Army’s first meeting in The United States. A year later, eight Salvationists moved to the United States to officially begin the work of The Salvation Army in the U.S. The Salvation Army expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, Germany, and many other countries.General Booth's death in 1912 was a great loss to The Salvation Army. However, he had laid a firm foundation for the organization. Today, The Salvation Army serves people in 111 countries.