When The Salvation Army first began its work, there was no system for the training of officers. Men and women who came to meetings and were converted, were on occasion almost immediately taken into the ranks of the army and given Corps responsibility. This system was fruitful, and many officers were added to the Army's ranks to meet its ever growing demand for officers to pioneer and command work.
After the immediate need for officers was satisfactorily met, the genius of Commissioner Railton began to devise a plan for the training of officers. He felt an urgent need for a place where men and women could be "drilled" in evangelism and other areas necessary for successful officership. In a letter dated November 1877, Railton wrote General Booth concerning his dream for the training of officers.
The importance of drilling the men we do get daily increases. We are not training one individual in our ideas and ways.... The want of greater unity of thought, feeling and methods will continue to cause losses with every change no matter how good each man may be.
Can we devise no plan for training folks? Could we not have a center in London to which all hopeful young folks could be rallied and where they could be thoroughly looked through and trained?
...No college, no book but the Bible, nothing but living teaching - no putting away of anything of the rough and natural - only the development of spiritual and natural power and willing to do our way and feel as we do about things.
Finally, Railton's ideas were accepted by General Booth, and in 1880, a permanent Training Home was established for women in London. Booth appointed his second daughter, Emma, as the head of this view venture. The garrison for men was established in the same year. By the time two years had passed, the training system was very well ingrained in the fiber of the Army. More than four hundred men and women had passed through the doors of these two institutions, better equipped to serve on the field as Officers.
As the Army grew to be a worldwide venture for the Kingdom of God, so did the idea of a more localized training program for Officers. No longer would men and women have to leave their own country to attend the garrison in London. A new system for the training of officers was established whereby any local Corps could have a cadet, and be termed a training garrison.
This training system was especially used in the United States. The first of these Corps garrisons opened in 1888 in the city of Chicago, where four male cadets were trained under the leadership of Captain Trotter.
The use of Chicago as a training center seems to be a very consistent one. From its inception in 1888 to present, some type of training of cadets has taken place in this city. Full attention will now be given to tracing the history of the Chicago School as it has developed over the past ninety-three years.