Blanche Cox …a dynamic leader
BY FRANCES DINGMAN –
At a time in the world’s history when women leaders were not readily followed, Blanche Cox’s industry, clarity of mind and dedicated spirit made her an Army leader of wide influence for Christ’s Kingdom.
An Englishwoman of good family, Blanche heard Catherine Booth speak at the age of 16 and was persuaded to join the Army. By age 17 she was engaged in work that was sometimes of the severest kind. Her experience varied from being an organizer of the “Gutter, Cellar and Attic Brigade” in London, being secretary to both the Founder and Mrs. Booth, and editing The Deliverer and All the World, to service in Central India.
While in India her health broke down. Not even one as strong as she could stand up under sunstroke, cholera, and smallpox, and she was sent to Colorado to save her life. Not one to rest and recuperate, she made her mark as a leader in Colorado’s Salvation War.
When traveling, and even on furlough, this gently reared lady roughed it by choice, sleeping in the open–rolled up in a blanket–under a tree.
In 1894 Blanche took part in the “Women’s Cavalry Brigade,” when women officers of the Intermountain Divisional Headquarters set forth with buggy and wagon to spread the gospel to outlying towns. In a two-month period, they traveled 1,000 miles, making hundreds of converts and raising a good sum of money for the work. Though the women took turns, rotating each week, Blanche was always the driver of the little wagon.
Trouble in Colorado Springs
For holding street meetings, Captain Cox was jailed three times in Colorado Springs, and treated very badly. Because of this, the Pueblo papers printed an article comparing Colorado Springs to Jerusalem, “They killeth the prophets and them that are sent unto her.” This aroused some of the English people in the fashionable north end, because of Blanche’s relationship to some of their friends. They went to the police department and said, “This must stop, and right now.” For this reason, Blanche was able to carry on.
She was the first Salvationist to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, preaching to 10,000.
Cox served with distinction in several stations in the east and Midwest, the most notable as provincial officer in Detroit, Michigan, where battles were being fought for the privilege of meeting in the street.
There, Salvationists were repeatedly thrown in jail. Police ran horses through the open-air meetings, while, according to Sallie Chesham, firemen hosed “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” down singers’ throats. The local toughs battled both authorities and Salvationists. Cox, then a major and provincial commander for Michigan and Indiana, decided to test the ordinance against outdoor drum playing and was arrested. “The ordinance against our drum is unfair, and strikes at the very foundation of the principle of freespeech,” said the Major. The doors of the workhouse closed 11 times on Blanche Cox, each sentence stiffer and longer. Friends noticed that prison pallor replaced the rosy glow in her cheeks.
The prison doors swung open for the last time when the case was won before the Supreme Court of the United States and freedom of speech was guaranteed the Army in Michigan. As she finally left the workhouse, one of her jailers apologized, “Major, we ain’t your kind, but we hate like tarnation to see you go. Please don’t forget us.”
Her last appointment was in Hawaii, where she joined with the circuit riders among the Island hills.
After retirement in 1926, she moved to Southern California and remained a blessing to many, both through speaking and her writing. Though she never married, she adopted three daughters. Two of them, Lt. Colonel Margaret Cox and Brigadier Ruth Cox, became successful officers. Not surprisingly, a favorite activity was working with the women at Tehachapi Prison. In 1940 she was laid to rest in Inglewood, California.