Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Haym Salomon. Polish-Jewish American Revolutionary War Hero

Claude Rains as Haym Solomon in "Sons of Liberty" Source
A legend links this design with Haym Salomon
Russia, Prussia, and Austria wiped Poland off the map in the late eighteenth century. Poles resolved to restore their nation. In addition to fighting for Poland's freedom, they fought for other nations. Their cry was "For your freedom and ours."

Many know that two Poles fought in the American Revolution. Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko's names are found in the US on towns and bridges. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia.

There was another, less well known Pole who contributed to the American Revolution: Haym Salomon, a Polish Jew. He was a financial broker who made profound personal sacrifices to aid the Revolutionary cause.

According to Wikipedia, Salomon raised the equivalent of $16,870,212.74 in 2013 dollars. He was also a man of action who fought the Russians and had to escape from them, and then engaged in espionage on the British in America and had to escape from them, too. He was imprisoned and this imprisonment lead to his early death.

People who want to bash Christianity always point to the Inquisition. I respond that the Inquisition was a backlash in Spain against the Muslim Conquest and the Reconquista, not a manifestation of Christianity. I also say that while the Spanish Inquisition was taking place, it was condemned by Catholics.

Other Catholic countries invited in Jews escaping from Spain. Catholic Poland was a significant refuge for Jews. According to Wikipedia, "Haym Salomon was born in Leszno, Poland in 1740 to an Ashkenazi Jewish family descended from Spanish and Portuguese Jews who migrated to the Jewish communities of Poland as a result of the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 and remained there for many generations."

In the US, Salomon was proudly and actively Jewish. He contributed to Jews' civil rights. From Wikipedia:

"Salomon was involved in Jewish community affairs, being a member of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, and in 1782 made the largest individual contribution towards the construction of its main building.

In 1783, Salomon was among the prominent Jews involved in the successful effort to have the Pennsylvania Council of Censors remove the religious test oath required for office-holding under the State Constitution. These test laws were originally written to disenfranchise the Quaker majority, but many were caught up in this anti-democratic ploy.

It was Salomon's old friend Robert Morris, who actually introduced legislation to end the test laws in Pennsylvania. In 1784, Salomon answered anti-Semitic slander in the press by stating: 'I am a Jew; it is my own nation; I do not despair that we shall obtain every other privilege that we aspire to enjoy along with our fellow-citizens.'"

Here's a dramatic paragraph from the below-linked article entitled "Haym Salomon -The Revolution's Indispensable Financial Genius" by Donald N. Moran:

"In August of 1781, our Southern forces had trapped Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis in the little Virginia coastal town of Yorktown. George Washington and the main army and the Count de Rochambeau with his French army decided to march from the Hudson Highlands to Yorktown and deliver the final blow.

But Washington's war chest was completely empty, as was that of Congress. Washington determined that he needed at least $20,000 to finance the campaign. When Morris told him there were no funds and no credit available, Washington gave him a simple but eloquent order: 'Send for Haym Salomon.'

Haym again came through, and the $20,000 was raised. Washington conducted the Yorktown campaign, which proved to be the final battle of the Revolution, thanks to Haym Salomon."

Salomon's time in prison damaged his health. He died young, at age 44, of tuberculosis, leaving four young children. His obituary in the Independent Gazetteer read, "Thursday, last, expired, after a lingering illness, Mr. Haym Salomon, an eminent broker of this city, was a native of Poland, and of the Hebrew nation. He was remarkable for his skill and integrity in his profession, and for his generous and humane deportment. His remains were yesterday deposited in the burial ground of the synagogue of this city."

He gave and sacrificed much, but died bankrupt. The new United States could not honor its debt to him. His children attempted to receive reimbursement, but were always turned down. Young America was poor. Truly, the inscription on the statue of Haym Salomon on Wacker Drive in Chicago is accurate: "Haym Salomon – Gentlemen, Scholar, Patriot. A banker whose only interest was the interest of his Country."

There is a legend that George Washington asked Haym Salomon how he wanted to be compensated for his sacrifices. "I want nothing for myself but something for my people," Salomon replied. Washington had the stars on the US seal arranged in the shape of a Star of David. You can read this legend here

You can read more about Haym Salomon here and here.

Another article about other Jews who played a key role in the American Revolution here

Statue to Robert Morris, G Washington, Haym Salomon Source
Wacker Drive, Chicago 
Sam Gruber's Jewish Monuments Blogspot


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  2. I have just completed a review of a fascinating book on Jews and the military. The Jewish author has a somewhat different take on Berek Jozelewicz, in the 1794 Kosciuszko Insurrection, than is usually considered.

    To see my review, please click on my name in this specific posting.


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