Historian David McCullough Laments
Historian David McCullough, author of the superb, "1776" has much to lament on this eve of another birthday for America. Many American's know little more of America's history than the drinking and fireworks. In the words of McCullough, American's are like "children" without a working knowledge of history. And in an interview this weekend McCullough lamented that most with a teaching degree, even from Harvard or Yale have little background in history to pass on to the students they will instruct. This is indeed a very sad legacy.
One history of America that is little known to most American's is that of Haym Solomon. George Washington's revolutionary army was poorly equipped and was losing major battles to the far better organized British invading soldiers who flowed onto American soil as warship after warship arrived at the American East coast.
Washington had leadership skills, but he had no money to finance an army or a government. There was no real way to ever expect a government independent of British rule by the King. Washington and the other patroits were far more likely to hang as traitors to the King, than to lead a free country with religious freedom.
In Europe, years of discrimination against Jews, sometimes even backed by the Vatican support greatly limited the ability of Jews to earn a living. Many laws restricted the ability of Jews to join trades, yet some were able to prosper and to offer help to their community. One Prussia/Poland born Jew who prospered in Europe, but yearned for religious freedom was Haym Solomon(1740-1785). Haym Solomon emigrated to the United States, and had become a very good friend to revolutionary army leader George Washington. Haym Solomon was greatly concerned with religious liberty for Jews. He wanted a nation where this religious and ethnic group could practice their faith without discrimination.
Haym Solomon saw the terrible defeats of Washington's army and asked Washington what he needed to win the war with the British. Washington's shopping list was for critical items such as shoes, winter coats, arms and trained soldiers who knew something of military skills. Haym Solomon promised support to Washington to establish a government built on religious liberty for Christians, Jews, or any religious group.
Haym Solomon loaned Washington about $600,000 interest free to hire a mercenary French army of thousands, far larger than the American forces to help defeat the organized British army. The funds also bought Washington's revolutionary army uniforms with boots, guns, and other vital military equipment. And with Solomon's friendship with the wealthy European Jewish banking families of Sassoon and Rothschild, an additional $3.5 million British pounds were loaned to America interest free. At the time of the death of Haym Solomon, about $400,000 was never repaid to Solomon by the American government.
In a funny story of how money buys influence, Haym Solomon was captured by the British and was scheduled to be hanged. But with his immense wealth, Solomon was able to bribe his British guards and escaped. Money buys freedom in the justice system, even in the early days of America. It's only the poor that hang in this country.
And it is a legend that the original draft of the U.S. Constitution was actually written by Haym Solomon. The "Founding Fathers", were merely signers of this Haym Solomon document. Nearly everyone gives the "Founding Fathers" credit for this document, yet few know that Haym Solomon was probably the original author.
On Monday, Americans will have picnics, wave the flag, drink alcohol and shoot off fireworks. Few will know that Haym Solomon and his friends with the Jewish banking families of Europe, the Sassoon and Rothschild families made America a place with a government independent of the King of England. Few will know that religious freedom for American Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others was bought by Haym Solomon and the Sassoon and Rothschild families for this country. This is why the Church of England is not the official state church of America. This is why strong prohibitions against a state church for America are written into Haym Solomon's U.S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights. Some in the religious right believe in a state church for America today. But this is not a foundation of freedom that Haym Solomon, George Washington, or any of the revolutionary leaders agreed with. Religious freedom was a guiding principle for Haym Solomon's support for America.
God bless Haym Solomon and America on the eve of her birthday.