U.S. Senate Report on Haym Salomon, Financier of the Revolution.
2nd Session Senate Document No. 178
HAYM M. SALOMON
Senate Committee on Revolutionary Claims relative to advances of Money to the United States during the Revolutionary War(S. Rept. No. 90, 38th, 2d)
A Biographical Sketch of Haym M. Salomon
by Herbert B. Adams, PhD., Notes and Bibliography by J.H. Hollander, Ph.D; also
HAYM M. SALOMON
(Senate Rep. Com. No. 93, Thirty-eighth
Congress, first session)
Mr. Wilkinson made the following report (to accompany bill S. 33l):
The Committee on Revolutionary Claims, to whom was referred the memorial of Haym M. Salomon for indemnity for advances of money made by his father to the United States during the Revolutionary War, have had the same under consideration, and respectfully report:
The claim of the memorialist is one of undeniable merit. It is for money advanced to the Revolutionary Government when the public credit was exhausted, its Treasury bankrupt, and specie almost impossible to be obtained. It has been repeatedly examined by some of the ablest committees of the two Houses of Congress and always reported upon favorably, with a bill for the relief of the memorialist; but the great magnitude of the papers and vouchers required so protracted an examination as to place it last on the calendar at each session, and never to come within the reach of final action.
The facts show that Haym Salomon, the father of the memorialist, a native of Poland, settled in this country as a merchant and banker before the Revolution and was a zealous supporter of the war for independence; that he was a man of unquestioned integrity, great financial resources and ability, and enjoyed the highest confidence of our public men of the time, as is shown by the most abundant proof, as stated in the reports of the various committees; that his large private fortune and the proceeds of his extensive commercial earnings were freely applied to the use of the Revolutionary Government and its various public men, and the agents of foreign governments friendly to our cause, whose supplies were for the time cut off; that during the war he was imprisoned, with Stockton and others, as early as the year 1775, at New York, in the loathsome prison called the “provost,” where he contracted a disease which ended in his death just at the close of the war and before any steps had been taken to secure the same or by the Government to reimburse him for the large amount he had advanced for its use.
When he died he left a young wife not familiar with our language and four infant children, the youngest, the present memorialist, being only some three weeks old, at a time when all matters, both public and private, were in a state of the greatest depression and confusion and necessarily exposed to corresponding hazard and neglect. The inventory of his private estate, as filed in the probate court in Philadelphia on the 15th day of February, 1785, exhibited among other things the following public securities as forming part of its assets, viz:
After a careful inspection of the disbursements and payments by the Government from 1781 to the formation of the present Government in 1789, it appears that no part of this indebtedness was ever paid to Haym Salomon or his heirs or that any payments whatever were made to him or his representatives; and in an official statement of the first auditor of the Treasury, in answer to questions propounded by the committee of the House of Representatives when examining the same subject, with a certified copy of these evidences of debt before him, that officer stated that no part of the sum had been paid or funded by anyone since the formation of the present Government. It is therefore conclusive to the mind of your committee that no such payment ever has been made and that the same is still a valid claim for proper indemnity in favor of the memorialist.
It is also proved by the original checks and vouchers before your committee that Haym Salomon advanced in specie to the “superintendent of finance” of the Revolutionary Government (Robert Morris), at various times and in various sums, to the amount of some $211,678, for which amount the original checks are before your committee, excepting two or three which are mislaid, but are well vouched for and referred to in former reports.
The evidence before your committee also proves that Haym Salomon advanced to the Government six promissory notes, amounting to 34,758 pounds, 18 shillings and 2 pence, Pennsylvania currency, or in Federal currency about $92,600, for which the original receipt of M. Hillegos, Continental Treasurer, is presented, showing that it was for the use of the United States.
There is also before your committee the promissory note of Haym Salomon for $20,000, payable in 30 days to the order of Robert Morris, which shows by the bank marks upon it that it was discounted by the bank and paid by Mr. Salomon at maturity, whose name is erased, and Robert Morris is still on it. There is no doubt that this note was loaned to Mr. Morris, for the reason that a receipt was given bearing even date with the note, “July 25, 1783,” and there is a memorandum endorsed on the note to that effect, so specifying. And considering that Mr. Morris was at that time exclusively engaged in financiering for the government, which was greatly in need of means, it is most likely the proceeds of this note were so applied, though the memorialist does not claim it as part of his demand against the Government.
It is also proved by the vouchers before your committee that Haym Salomon provided the means to support the ambassador of the King of Spain, Don Francisco Rendon, who was in secret alliance with the Revolutionary Government and whose supplies were cut off by the British cruisers. This fact was acknowledged in an official letter from the minister to the governor general of Cuba, and the original orders uncanceled, to the amount of 10,000 Spanish dollars, are before your committee, showing that the amount was never paid. But the memorialist does not, nor never has asked this Government to pay that sum.
All the former reports from the committees of both Houses show that Haym Salomon supported from his private means many of the principal men of the Revolution, who otherwise, as stated by themselves, could not have attended to their public duties, among whom are mentioned Jefferson, Madison, Lee, Steuben, Mifflin, St. Clair, Blond, Mercer, Jones, Monroe, Wilson, and others; but the package of vouchers containing the original letters and orders from these parties to Mr. Salomon, with the important confidential statements of these parties, together with many other important as well as interesting matters of fact, have all disappeared from the proper files in the case since the adjournment of last Congress, and no search has been able to find or discover them. It is supposed they have all been extracted for the sake of the original autograph letters and signatures they embraced. But sufficient of their contents has been preserved in the former reports to show their accuracy, and the importance of the relief granted to those who devoted their whole time to the public service, and wherein the patriot Madison says, in 1783-
“The expediency of drawing bills on Virginia, even the
This distressed condition of the public men of the time is corroborated by Mr. Morris, superintendent of finance, who, in 1781, wrote the President of Congress that “the Treasury was so much in arrears to the servants in the public offices that many of them could not, without payment, perform their duties, but must have gone to jail for debts they have contracted to enable them to live,” etc., had they not been favored with assistance.
It was in a crisis like this that Mr. Salomon not only aided the Government directly, as we have seen, but sustained its public men without reservation or security, trusting in the honor and gratitude of the American people when independence should have been secured.
As evidence of the ability of Haym Salomon to make the advances before stated, your committee have before them the sworn statement of the cashier of the Bank of North America, taken from its books, showing that after making all these payments and loans his bank account at the end of each consecutive quarter during the time referred to averaged a surplus of from $11,000 to $46,000; and the same sworn statement also proves, from the same books, the advance of the large sums stated to Robert Morris; and, indeed, in all respects corroborates the financial character and respectability of the father of the memorialist. This sworn statement also proves the advances made to the various public men of the Revolution before mentioned, showing the orders or checks upon which the money was paid.
The committees of the last Congress state that “in order to be satisfied how far payments of the whole or any part of these advances or Government obligations have been made, have had brought before them full exemplification of all the revolutionary expenditures and payments anterior to the formation of the present Government, but do not find that there is any evidence of such payments having been made to the father of the memorialist or to his heirs or legal representatives after his death.
“That the accounts rendered by the superintendent of finance have been carefully examined, and no discharge of any of these obligations can be found.” That “a like search has been made in the private accounts of Robert Morris, as stated upon his oath while incarcerated for debt in the year 1805, and no payments to, or charges against, Haym Salomon appear in any shape.” And the first Auditor of the Treasury states officially that no such payments have been made since the formation of the present Government, which is conclusive evidence that there is justly due the memorialist a large sum.
The evidence before your committee shows that the memorialist has been diligent in pursuing his claim. At the death of his father, in 1785, his brother, the eldest of the family, was but about 7 years old. When he arrived at maturity he found the large real estate owned by his father all sold, and no account rendered of anything. Steps were taken to pursue such rights as were visible, and among others, this demand; but as the evidence was scattered, and they were compelled to earn a livelihood by their industry, things moved slowly. Early in this century, his elder brother, dying in the discharge of public duties, far from home, the memorialist took charge of it, and has pursued it by every proper means in his power.
Many of the survivors of the Revolution, who were the compeers and knew the value of the sacrifices made by Haym Salomon, wrote encouraging letters to the memorialist on the subject. Among these may be mentioned one from James Madison in 1827 who, among other things, stated:
“The transactions shown by the papers you enclose were for the support pf the Delegates to Congress, and the agency of your father herein was solicited on account of the respect and confidence he enjoyed among those best acquainted with him,” etc., and concludes with the wish that the memorialist might be properly indemnified.
But, without amplifying, there is sufficient to show that the memorialist has been vigilant in the pursuit of his rights, and though he has had numerous reports made in his favor he never could get his case finally acted upon.
The aggregate of the indebtedness or demand of the memorialist against the Government and of the moneys advanced to the public men of the Revolution, as shown by the papers and recognized by all the committees of both Houses, which have examined the same, may be stated thus:
Government obligations of the various species before
Besides the note of $20,000, evidently loaned to Robert Morris, and the $l0,000 and upward advanced to Don Francisco Rendon, the ambassador of Spain, and an indefinite amount advanced to many of the most devoted men of the Revolution, which is not enumerated or claimed by the memorialist.
In former reports in favor of the memorialist it has been recommended that a bill be passed appropriating to him the amount of Government obligations held by his father at the time of his death, viz, $353,729.43, except the report of this committee made at the last session.
A Sketch of Haym Salomon
In the fall of 1841, Jared Sparks, while professor of history in Harvard College, was delivering a course of lyceum lectures in New York City upon the American Revolution. His remarks upon the services of certain public men of the period excited deep interest in the mind of a Jewish hearer, Mr. Haym M. Salomon, who wrote to and afterwards called upon Mr. Sparks in reference to the patriotic activity of Haym Salomon, a contemporary and associate of Robert Morris, James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and other distinguished publicists of the Revolutionary period. At the request of Mr. Sparks, Mr. Salomon prepared certain memoranda of the eminent services of his father, Haym Salomon, and this manuscript passed into the possession of Mr. Sparks.
The interview and the information thus obtained seem to have made a profound impression upon Mr. Sparks. He mentioned something of the above matter to Mr. Joshua I. Cohen, of Baltimore, and almost a quarter of a century after the original interview, under date of October 29, 1865, Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Sparks as follows:
“You may probably recollect a conversation I had with
you many years ago
The original sketch of Haym Salomon thus prepared by his son as found in a somewhat mutilated condition by Prof. Herbert B. Adams, of the Johns Hopkins University, among the Sparks papers, which had been entrusted to his care during the preparation of “The Life and Writings of Jared Sparks,” published in 1893 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. The manuscript was stitched to other papers and had been apparently cut down somewhat in order to make it more uniform in size with the smaller sheets. This fact will explain certain tantalizing but apparently brief omissions in the text. The appended copy of the manuscript is furnished by Professor Adams with the full consent of the Sparks family.
Haym Salomon, who died in Philadelphia, then the metropolis of the United States, January, 1785, was the fellow countryman and intimate associate of the Polish Generals Pulaski and Kosciuszko, and was first publicly known in 1778, when he was taken by the British General Sir H. Clinton in New York on charges that he had received orders from General Washington to burn their fleets and destroy their storehouses, which he had attempted to execute to their great injury and damage. He was accordingly imprisoned, treated inhumanely, and ordered to suffer military death. From the sacrifice of his life, with which he was threatened in consequence of the sentence, he escaped by means of a considerable bribe in gold. This is corroborated from his letter to his brother-in-law, Major Franks, dated soon after in Philadelphia, in which his intimacy is stated with the brave General McDougall, who then commanded the American Army in the neighborhood of New York, and with whom it appears he must have been in cooperation in order to drive…..(Manuscript cut off) away from the comfortable quarters, which the maritime and military divisions of that city so happily promised them after its abandonment by the friends of the Revolution.
A few days after his escape from the merciless enemy, he safely arrived in Philadelphia, where he was welcomed and esteemed as one devoted to the principle…..(Manuscript cut off).
We then find him meriting the well-placed confidence and affection of the patriots who had been distinguished in the Revolutionary Congress of 1776; also the great men who were famous in those succeeding sessions, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, and 1784, furnished us by such circumstantial testimony as yet remains of what immortal body of devoted patriots.
It is seen as soon as the generous monarch of France agreed to furnish the expiring Government of that day with means to reanimate their exertions in the glorious cause. It was he who was charged with the negotiation of the entire amount of those munificent grants of pecuniary supplies from the Governments of France and Holland.
In 1783-84, after the satisfactory close of these truly confidential services, he is found to have made considerable advances – moneys, loans, etc. – to Robert Morris, of the Congress of the Declaration of 1776. To General Mifflin, to General St. Clair, to General Steuben, to Colonel Shee, to Colonel Morgan, Major McPherson, Major Franks, and many other officers such sums as they required. And as it regarded the deputies to the Continental Congress (to), the amiable Judge Wilson (another member of the session of 1776), considerable loans.
To the immortal delegation from Virginia, namely, Arthur Lee, Theodore Bland, Joseph Jones, John F. Mercer, and Edmund Randolph liberal supplies of timely and pecuniary aid; and we find it declared by one of the most accomplished, most learned, and patriotic members of the succeeding sessions of the Revolutionary legislature, James Madison, that when by the……(Manuscript cut off) pecuniary resources of the Members of Congress, both public and private, were cut off, recourse was had to Mr. Salomon for means to answer their current expenses, and he was always found extending his friendly hand.
The exalted and surviving delegate of the Revolutionary Congress above alluded to, who has since that period been promoted for two successive terms to the chief magistracy of these States, in his letter on the subject of the character of Mr. Haym Saloman, testifies fully as to the unquestionable uprightness of his transactions as well as the disinterestedness of his “friendship,” and also his “intelligence” and which no doubt from his confidential intercourse with the foreign ambassadors made his communications serviceable to the public safety.” That conferences were sought with him by the great men of the time is proved from the existence of a note in the handwriting of another Member of the Congress of Declaration, the incorruptible President Reed.
His services to the cause of his country were not confined to aiding the native agents of our own Government, but he was the most confidential friend and timely adviser to the agents, consuls, and ambassadors representing the interests of the kings of those countries then in our alliance, as it appears from the amount of specie granted for the service of the army and hospital of Rochambaud, and large sums appear to have been received from him by Chevalier de la Luzerne, Marbois, consul general, De la Forest, John….(Manuscript cut off), recollected by the elders of the nation as the active agents of the good French king.
As to the minister of the King of Spain, then the richest of the European monarchs. The amount granted him was expressly to relieve the wants, conveniences, and necessities of this ambassador, whose king was then countenancing the Revolution in this country, but with those European dominions all intercourse was stopped, and in regard to the moneys so furnished, whether Mr. Salomon was ever repaid by Spain is a matter of as much uncertainty as that regarding the considerable sums advanced to other Revolutionary agents.
It appears that the death of Mr. Salomon after a short and severe illness was quite as unexpected as calamitous to his family, leaving no will nor relatives in this country competent to take charge of his estate, at this difficult period of the unsettled state of the jurisprudence of the country, being four years prior to the formation of the Constitution of the United States.
A letter from him yet exists, dated in New York a few days previous to his return and death, directed to the agent of his house in Philadelphia, in which he speaks of the full competency of his fortune and his intention of retiring from business. An additional inducement, no doubt, was owing to the impaired state of his health from the great exertions he had made to promote the views of the Revolution, and which letter further declares that he had many claims, uncollected due him and spoke of the quantities of public securities and Government papers which….(Manuscript cut off). Of this latter, on examination of a list deposited in the probate office it appears there was upward of $300,000, more than $160,000 of which were of certificates of the loan office of the Treasury and of the Army.
At his decease the management of his estate passed into the hands of strangers, all of whom not very long after became either bankrupts or died, as well as Mr. Macrea, his chief clerk, who had committed suicide about the same period. Consequently the books and papers have nearly been all lost, and the obscurity into which these matters are thrown is increased in consequence of the destruction by the British of many of the public archives of that period, during the invasion of the city of Washington by their army during the last war. (Mr. Joseph Nourse, Register of the Treasury of the United States from 1777 to 1828, wrote from Washington, in 1827, to Mr. H.M. Salomon: “I have cast back to those periods when your honored father was agent to office of finance; but the inroads of the British Army in 1814 deprived us of every record in relation to the vouchers of the period to which I refer.”) And such were the effects of those unfortunate circumstances to the heirs that when the youngest son became of age nothing was obtained from the personal estate of this munificent and patriotic individual in Philadelphia. And no other inheritance now services to the offspring except the expectation of the grateful remembrance of a just and generous republic.
It ought not to be forgotten, that although he endorsed a great portion of those bills of exchange for the amount of the loans and subsidies our Government obtained in Europe, of which duty occupied a great portion of his valuable time from 1881 to 1883, still there was only charged scarcely a fractional percentage to the United States, although individuals were willing to pay him….(Manuscript cut off) for his other negotiations, either by his own mismanagement or from the credit he gave to others on the sales he made of those immense sums of foreign drafts on account of the United States.
We find that immediately after the peace of 1883, when foreign commerce could securely float again on the ocean, that he resumed his business as a merchant for the few remaining months of his life, trading to foreign countries, which may be collected from the few original letters (that are preserved) bearing date (of) London, Holland, and Spain, and from the return of the large ship Sally from Spain to his consignment a few weeks succeeding his death, on which cargo and hull he was interested in the sum of 40,000 florins; his estate on the expedition sustained almost total loss, owing to the failures and disasters among merchants of those days, to whom the property had been consigned and by whose advice it had been undertaken.
He was most friendly in aiding those other commercial citizens and merchants who recommended trading after the war had closed. One remarkable instance (that) may be noted among others was the case of Mr. Willing’s house, the head of which was the president of the National bank, and whose active partner was the superintendent of finance. The firm trading under the name of Willing, Morris & Swanick. To them he made a loan of his name to obtain $40,000 in specie in one amount from the bank. A second loan of his name in addition of 24,000 specie dollars also, a few months preceding his death, for both of which considerable accommodations of credit at this eventful period of our commercial history, he never charged them one cent of consideration.
(Copy of an authentic certificate from the register’s office in Philadelphia showing the amount of public securities and Revolutionary papers left by the deceased Haym Salomon at his death and from which personal estate mentioned in said certificate not a cent was ever received by any of his heirs.)
58 loan-office certificates…………………………………………………$110,233.65
I certify that the above writing is a true extract from the original inventory and appraisement of the personal estate of Haym Salomon, deceased, filed in the register’s office, Philadelphia, on the 15th February, 1785.
John Geyer, Register.
Given under my hand and seal of office this 28th May, A.D. 1828.
(Extract from a certificate)
The father of Mr. Haym M. Salomon was the deceased Haym Salomon, Esq., who died in Philadelphia January 6, 1785, and who is found to have exhibited the most ardent personal devotion to the cause of the Revolution.
On investigating such of the memoranda and papers regarding his civil services in that era of our history which have accidentally been preserved and now submitted, I find the following facts:
By an affidavit made in New York January, 1778, before Alderman Matthews, certified on its back by William Claygen, military secretary to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, dated at the encampment White Plains, August 15, 1778, it appears that so early as the year 1775 Mr. Salomon was in controversy with the enemies of the projected Revolution.
Wm. H. Bell.
New York, May 9, 1828.
The affidavit further states that it had been alleged against him in New York that he was charged by General Washington to execute an enterprise as hazardous to the safety of his person and life as it was most important to the interests of the Revolutionary Army.
Supposed to be the enterprise for which he was condemned to death by the British General Clinton, as mentioned in the first part of this memorandum.
The two infant sons which Mr. Salomon (at the age of 45) left at his death were Ezekiel and Haym. Ezekiel was he (the eldest) who in 1807, in charge of a large amount of American property, was (with many other American citizens whose cargoes as well as his own was sequestered at Leghorn by the French) placed in much perplexity, but through the spirited remonstrance which he made to the Tuscan and French Governments, succeeded in procuring its release. He subsequently was charged with the government of the United States branch bank at New Orleans and while in the successful application of the duties of his office, dies in 1821.
Haym M., the youngest son and sole survivor of the male part of the family, has been engaged in commercial pursuits for many years past, for particulars of which see letter from Hon. Johnson, Esq., who for eight years was the representative in Congress from New York, the Empire City of the United States, and now one of the chief officers in the customhouse of that city. (A third child of Haym Salomon was a daughter, Sallie Salomon, who married Joseph Andrews. Their son, Joeeph I. Andrews, married Miriam Nones, of New York, a daughter of Maj. Benjamin Nones, of Revolutionary fame. The daughter of this union, Louisa Andrews, is now Mrs. E.L. Goldbaum, of Memphis, Tenn. Mr. Goldbaum kindly writes me: “We have in our possession life-size oil paintings of Joseph Andrews, son-in-law of Haym Salomon, and of his wife, Sallie Andrews, nee Sallie Salomon.”
Little of the mass of original material at one time in existence relative to the life and activity of Haym Salomon can now be located. Mr. William Salomon, of New York, a great-grandson of Haym Salomon, writes in response to a recent enquiry as follows: “I am under the impression that all the papers bearing on the services of Haym Salomon in the cause of the Revolution which were not lost when he died intestate (and a few months before Haym M. Salomon was born) came into Haym M. Salomon’s possession, but unfortunately his descendants have been deprived of that valued inheritance by reason of their disappearance while in the custody of the Government. All I ever discovered among my father’s papers was a letter from either President Tyler or Polk – I cannot remember positively which, and the letter is not now within easy reach – stating that papers my grandfather, Haym M. Salomon, desired to have returned could not be found in the department where they had been placed.”
Some further details of the strange negligence to which this unfortunate loss is due may be found in the Senate Committee Report to the Thirty-first Congress on the claim of H.M. Salomon. The timely services rendered by Haym Salomon to James Madison, during the sessions of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia are specifically indicated in the published letters of Madison. (See Madison Papers, Vol. I, pp. 163, 178-179.) Mr. Herbert Friedenwald, of Philadelphia, has recently found among the records of
the Continental Congress an interesting memorial of Haym Salomon, submitted to the Congress in August, 1778. The main sources of information relative to the life of Haym Salomon are thus the secondary Congressional Committee reports upon the claims of his descendants for indemnity for money advanced to the United States Government during the Revolution. These, in the order of their presentation, are as follows:
1. Report on Claim of Haym M. Salomon. Representaive F.A. Tallmadge. April 26, 1848. 3 pp. House Reports No. 504, 30th Cong., lst sess., Vol. III.
2. Report on Claim of H.M. Salomon. Senator J.D. Bright. July 28, 1848. 3 pp. Senate Reports No. 219, 30th Cong., lst sess.
3. Report on Claim of H.M. Salomon. Senator I.P. Walker, August 9, 1850. 7 pp. Senate Reports No. 177, 31st Cong., 1st sess., Vol. I.
4. Report on Claim of Haym M. Salomon, Senator Charles Durkee. March 9, 1860. 10 pp. Senate Reports No. 127, 36th Cong., 1st sess. Vol. I.
5. Report on Claim of Haym M. Salomon. Senator M.S. Wilkinson. July 2, 1862. 5 pp. Senate Reports, No. 65, 37th Cong., 2d sess.
6. Report on Petition of Haym M. Salomon. June 24, 1864. 4 pp. Senate Reports, No. 93, 39th Cong., 1st sess.
The second, third, fifth, and sixth of the above reports have been reprinted in pamphlet form, presumably for private circulation. During the first session of the Twenty-ninth Congress the Senate Committee on Claims unanimously agreed upon a report similar to that adopted by the House Committee of the Thirtieth Congress, but too late for presentation. Another report was drawn up during the second session of the same Congress, placed on file, but never adopted. It was largely embodied in the Senate report to the Thirty-first Congress; see Senate report to Thirty-first Congress. The last sentence of the report to the Thirty-eighty Congress – “except the report of this committee made at the last session,” and several paragraphs inserted in the report to the Thirty-seventh Congress as statements of “the committee of the last Congress,” indicate the presentation of additional reports. No positive evidence of their existence has, however, been found. At the second session of the Fifty-second Congress (February 24, 1893) a bill was presented to the House ordering that a gold medal be struck off in recognition of services rendered by Haym Salomon during the Revolutionary War, in consideration of which the Salomon heirs waived their claims upon the United States for indemnity. The measure was reported favorably by the House Committee on the Library, but too late for consideration. The report (No. 2556, to accompany H.R. 7896) summarizes the efforts made in previous Congresses and reprints in full the Senate report to the Thirty-seventh Congress.
A readable account of the life of Haym Salomon, based largely upon the congressional reports and entirely without exact references, is to be found in Hebrews in America, page 66. Briefer sketches are given in Rosenbach, Jews in Philadelphia prior to 1800; in Outlines of Jewish History, page 350; and in Settlements of Jews in North America, page 58. In an article entitled “Are Republic Ungrateful?”, in the Reform Advocate, Senator Simon Wolf, of Washington, reprints the commit reports to the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Congresses with some interesting comments.
The present paper marks the beginning of what is hoped to be a systematic attempt to collect some part of the large amount of original material that must still exist, even though in scattered, fragmentary form, relative to the life and services of Haym Salomon. It seems high time that some effort should be made to secure at least historic recognition of the noble activity of this Jewish patriot. It is desired to secure general cooperation in the work of collection and to this end any printed or manuscript letters, memoranda, or references however slight, relative to the subject, if communicated to J.H. Hollander, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., will be gladly received and acknowledged.
Jews in the Revolution
(Excerpt from a speech of President Coolidge delivered in Washington May 3, 1925)
And the Jews themselves, of whom a considerable number were already scattered throughout the Colonies, were true to the teachings of their own prophets. The Jewish faith is predominantly the faith of liberty. From the beginnings of the conflict between the Colonies and the Mother Country they were overwhelmingly on the side of the rising revolution.
You will recognize them when I read the names of some among the merchants who unhesitatingly signed the nonimportation resolution of 1765: Isaac Moses, Benjamin Levy, Samson Levy, David Franks, Joseph Jacobs, Hayman Levy, Jr., Matthias Bus, Michael Gratz, Bernard Gratz, Isaac Franks, Moses Mordecai, Benjamin Jacobs, Samuel Lyon and Manual Mordecai Noah.
Not only did the colonial Jews join early and enthusiastically in the nonintercourse program, but when the time came for raising and sustaining an army they were ready to serve wherever they could be most useful.
There is a romance in the story of Haym Salomon, a Polish Jew, financier of the Revolution. Born in Poland, ha was made prisoner by the British forces in New York and when he escaped, set up in business in Philadelphia. He negotiated for Robert Morris all the loans raised in France and Holland, pledged his personal faith and fortune for enormous amounts, and personally advanced large sums to such men as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Baron Steuben, General St. Clair, and many other patriot leaders, who testified that without his aid they could not have carried on in the cause.
A considerable number of Jews became officers in the Continental forces. The records show at least four Jews who served as lieutenant colonels, three as majors, and certainly six, probably more, as captains.
When de Kalb was fatally wounded in the thickest of the fighting at the battle of Camden, the three officers who were at hand to bear him from the field were Major Nones, Captain de la Motta, and Capt. Jacob de Leon, all of them Jews.
It is interesting to know that at the time of the Revolution there was a larger Jewish element in the Southern Colonies than would have been found there at most later period; and these Jews of the Carolinas and Georgia were ardent supporters of the Revolution.
One corps of Infantry raised in Charleston, S.C., was composed preponderantly of Jews, and they gave a splendid account of themselves in the fighting in that section.
Jewish Contribution to Citizenship
It is easy to understand why a people with the historic background of the Jews should thus overwhelmingly have allied themselves with the cause of freedom. From earliest colonial times America has been a new land of promise to this long-persecuted race.