Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Haym Salomon - American Patriot


Haym Salomon

American Patriot Haym Salomon, a Sephardic Jew, who immigrated to the US from Poland in 1772 is shown in the photograph at the left. He was one of The Sons of Liberty almost immediately on arrival in the new land.

The Sons of Liberty were a secret organization of patriots .. the American "underground" of resistance to British tyranny.
Members included Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Haym Salomon, Isaac Sears, Samuel Adams and his cousin John Adams and others.
The Sons of Liberty had imposed an almost complete blockade of British goods into America at one point. The reason for their existence was the increasing taxation by the Crown on colonists. The money was used exclusively by the Crown with not a cent being used in the colonies themselves. The colonists came to feel this exploitation quite keenly as America was being used and abused.
The Stamp Act required every single legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, wills, pamphlets, and playing cards in the colonies to have a tax stamp on them.
Not one cent of this money was used in the colonies, however, but used to pay off the war debt for Britain's 7 Year War. Part of this might have been on American soil.. the French and Indian wars. Britain was now keeping a substantial military presence in America because of new territory. The Stamp Act, the Sugar tax and tea taxes were imposed to have America pay for the quartering and support of these troops.

American resistance to the taxes was based on several things. The first was the Right of Englishmen, as they were Englishmen, to no taxation without representation a right which the Crown was overlooking and bypassing. The colonists wanted to have representation in Parliament if they were going to pay such large taxes. They petitioned the King over and over again about this with no answer.

Not only were Americans opposed to the taxes but British merchants were having a tough time as the taxes were hurting business in a quite substantial way. Though the stamp act was repealed in 1766, the Declaratory Act was passed in its stead that gave Britain the right to tax the colonies at will, without representation.
The colonists believed that they either were Englishmen or Americans. If Englishmen they why was there no representation? If Americans then they could not be taxed for British whims.
Britain raged against the new nation calling them ungrateful, In the words of MP Charles Townshend , "and now will these Americans, children planted by our care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from heavy weight of the burden which we lie under?"
The America response came from Colonel Isaac Barré ...........
"They planted by your care? No! Your oppression planted ‘em in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and inhospitable country where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable, and among others to the cruelties of a savage foe, the most subtle, and I take upon me to say, the most formidable of any people upon the face of God’s earth. …
They nourished by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of ‘em. As soon as you began to care about ‘em, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over 'em, in one department and another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member of this house, sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon 'em; men whose behaviour on many occasions has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them … .
They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted a valour amidst their constant and laborious industry for the defence of a country whose frontier while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to your emolument. …The people I believe are as truly loyal as any subjects the king has, but a people jealous of their liberties and who will vindicate them if ever they should be violated; but the subject is too delicate and I will say no more."

War was declared to free America once and for all from British "care" and individual taxes as high as £10.That £10 would be £636.90 .00 today . This was as difficult to pay in those days on their incomes as $5900 would be for an individual today according to the Measuring Worth Calculator for money.

Wine carried tax of over £700 per case.It was not unusual for British tax agents to claim 'tax evasion' and impose penalties hundreds of times over the original tax. America was nothing more than a cash cow for Britain. "Customs racketeering" by British agents was wide spread.

Troops were housed in private homes at a whim, rights of individuals were trampled and the colonists had no redress at all. Though officially British citizens, they were treated less than serfs.American trade was raped and profits siphoned off by Britain.

During the war, America had no powers of taxation yet and were forced to get war loans from abroad. Haym Salomon gave his own money to help. He gave interest free loans to members of the new Congress , including James Madison, to help forward the war's cause and also brokered bills of exchange for the new nation to keep things afloat. He was also the paymaster for America's French troops during the war.
Captured by the British, he was forced to be a translator for the Hessian soldiers. Haym used it to advantage by encouraging the Germans to desert and helping a large number American POWS to escape. And the Germans DID desert and many men's lives were saved by Haym Salomon.
He was a selfless and charitable man who loved his new home and loved liberty. His life proved it.
Without him, the war could not have gone forward. We owe him a lot.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Haym Salomon - History

Haym Salomon

Philadelphia broker Haym Salomon (1740-1785) played a vital role in ensuring that the American colonies' fight to win independence from the British crown continued. During the 1770s, he brokered a number of large financial transactions that kept American soldiers clothed, fed, and armed. It is thought that this Jewish emigrant contributed much of his own assets to the war for independence because he died deeply in debt.
Haym Salomon was born in 1740 to a family of Portuguese Jews. His parents had been driven out of the Iberian peninsula by anti-Semitic laws enacted by the Spanish monarchy, and settled in Lissa (now Leszno), a part of Poland that, at the time, belonged to the kingdom of Prussia. The Jewish villages in the area, however, were sometimes decimated by vicious pogroms: a crime or incident would occur, Jews in the area came under suspicion for it, and then mob violence resulted in widespread incidents of assault, murder, and property destruction. One such conflagration threatened Lissa when Salomon was a young man, and caused him to flee to Holland.
It was probably during the 1760s that Salomon traveled in Europe. By the time he reached the British colonies he had acquired fluency in several languages. It is also thought that he possessed some university education. Salomon returned to Poland around 1770, but likely became involved in Poland's nationalist movement and was forced to flee the country again in 1772. This was the same year that the first of several partitions of Poland occurred, in which its neighbors allied to seize and divide amongst themselves Polish lands and effectively erase the country from the map. Salomon went first to England, and from there sailed to New York, under British control since the 1660s. It was a thriving port, and the center of commercial and shipping interests in North America. Salomon evidently possessed some knowledge of finance and accounting practices. He was able to find a job as a broker and commission agent for ships plying the Atlantic.
Acts of Sedition
During this time Salomon continued his political activism. He was active in a secret group, the Sons of Liberty, which had been established by men with business interests who were opposed to British rule. The Crown's colonial system ensured that a large part of the profits generated in the New World went to the British Exchequer, not the merchants and other colonial businessmen. Under unknown circumstances, Salomon was arrested by the British and charged with spying in September 1776. His multilingual skills caused his captors to station him with a German general named Heister. At the time, the German state of Hesse allowed its soldiers to serve as mercenaries as a revenue-creating measure. These troops, known as Hessians, were in North America to support British rule. As an interpreter for Heister, Salomon was allowed a relatively high degree of freedom. He contributed to the American revolutionary cause by persuading Hessians to switch sides.
After Salomon was released from custody, he married Rachel Franks, the daughter of a prominent merchant, in January 1777. He continued to work underground to sway Hessian allegiance, and was jailed a second time in August 1778 as one of several suspects thought to be planning a fire that would destroy the British royal fleet in New York harbor. The strategy also included a series of arson fires in British warehouses. He was sent to the Provost, an infamous prison, and a death sentence loomed. However, Salomon had hidden several gold guineas on himself, which were used to bribe a jailer and escape to freedom.
Success in Philadelphia
Salomon left British-occupied New York and crossed into New Jersey and then Pennsylvania. At the time, the city of Philadelphia was the center of the independence movement and home to the Continental Congress, the legislative body of the thirteen colonies that had declared their autonomy from Britain in 1776. Salomon spoke before the Second Continental Congress, offering his services and requesting a position, but was turned down. With some borrowed funds, he opened an office as dealer of bills of exchange. His firm on
Front Street
, near to the Coffee House where Colonial Army officers and members of the Continental Congress often gathered, began to flourish.

The revolutionary cause, in contrast, was in dire financial straits. The colonies were battling against an extremely wealthy enemy, the British Empire. Keeping the American forces supplied with arms, food, and other supplies, was a daunting task. Salomon came to know many leading figures in Philadelphia during this time, and brokered a loan of $400,000 that gave George Washington, head of the Continental Army, funds to pay his soldiers in 1779. It is thought that Salomon may have contributed his own funds to this aid package.
A Key Figure
Salomon became an associate of prominent Philadelphian Robert Morris, a member of Congress with close ties to Benjamin Franklin. Morris brokered many financial transactions that helped the revolutionary cause gather steam early on. By the winter of 1780-81 the colonial government was broke and Morris was appointed superintendent of finance. Salomon entered into more than seventy-five financial transactions with Morris between 1781 and 1784. He was almost the only broker for the sale of bills of exchange - bonds sold to provide funds for the war effort and salaries of top government officeholders. Salomon may have backed many of these with his own assets. Moreover, he was the principal broker for subsidies from France and Holland to help the American independence effort, and turned over his commissions on these transactions to the cause as well. He was also named an agent for merchandise that was seized by privateers loyal to the colonists, which he sold to help finance the war.
Records show that Salomon advanced in specie over $211,000 to Morris when the latter was superintendent of finance, and entered into other transactions with the government to the tune of over $353,000. There were also several promissory notes totaling $92,000. In all, the sum that Salomon advanced to help the war cause was over $658,000, an amount which was later recognized by Congress as valid. Some of these transactions were in specie or on revolutionary paper, and as such declined considerably in value after the war. The loans that Salomon advanced to men such as future presidents James Madison and James Monroe were assumed to have been settled between the parties.
Salomon maintained his Philadelphia brokerage throughout these years, and was also a devout practitioner of his faith. He was active in the city's Congregation Mikveh Israel, and once appeared before the Board of Censors to speak in opposition to a religious oath required of civil servants designed to keep those of the Jewish faith from such jobs. His firm began to experience financial losses after a 1783 recession, and he planned to relocate to New York City in 1785. According to one story, he petitioned the government for repayment, and was sent a sheaf of documents on a Saturday, the Jewish holy day. Salomon would not sign them because of the Sabbath laws against transacting business. On Monday he fell gravely ill. Other sources note that he had not yet tabulated the debts and presented his claim officially. What is certain is that Salomon died on January 6, 1785 in Philadelphia, a death attributed to tuberculosis.
Services Rendered, then Forgotten
When Salomon died at the age of 45, he was a bankrupt man with a wife, three children under the age of seven, and a fourth on the way. His estate was valued at $44,000, but had liabilities of $45,000. Not long after his death, his chief clerk, who could have been crucial to straightening out financial matters regarding the family debt, committed suicide. Attempts were made by his heirs over the next few years to obtain some retribution, but a series of suspect occurrences thwarted these challenges. It was alleged by the government, for instance, that papers concerning the Salomon estate claims were destroyed when government buildings in the District of Columbia were burned by the British in the War of 1812.
Salomon's fourth child, Haym Jr., met with President John Tyler in the early 1840s and reportedly left a sheaf of documents with him for his perusal. The box of papers later disappeared. The younger Salomon then petitioned the Senate Committee on Revolutionary Claims until 1864, when he was in his late seventies. He even offered to settle the claim at a sum of just $100,000. This was quite generous considering that, with interest, the actual amount owed would have spiraled to a debt of grand proportions. At this the Committee once more approved the claim's legitimacy and submitted it to Congress, which again failed to approve the expenditure.
A Shameful Legacy
At some point after the 1860s, a cache of Salomon papers remaining in Congressional archives was discovered to be missing. Many of them concerned financial dealings and bore the signatures of Washington, Jefferson, and other historic figures. They were likely pilfered for the value of these autographs. In 1893, Salomon's heirs petitioned Congress to strike a commemorative medal in honor of their patriotic forebear, with a Congressional appropriation submitted in the amount of $250, but this was also rejected. Future president Woodrow Wilson sat on a committee charged with the task of founding a university in Salomon's honor in 1911, but the project was derailed by World War I.
Salomon, who is buried in the cemetery of Mikveh Israel, was finally commemorated with a Chicago statue by famed sculptor Lorado Taft, and finished by Leonard Crunelle. The heroic memorial depicts Salomon, Morris, and Washington, and was dedicated in 1941 at the corner of
Wacker Drive
and Wabash Avenue. Known as the Heald Square Monument, it bears the inscription: "Symbol of American tolerance and unity and of the cooperation of people of all races and creeds in the upbuilding of the United States."

Further Reading
Fast, Howard, Haym Salomon: Son of Liberty, Julian Messner, Inc., 1941.
Hart, Charles Spencer, General Washington's Son of Israel and Other Forgotten Heroes of History, Lippincott, 1937.
Russell, Charles Edward, Haym Salomon and the Revolution, Cosmopolitan Book Corp., 1930.
Schwartz, Laurens B., Jews and the American Revolution: Haym Salomon and Others, McFarland and Co., 1987.

Haym Salomon, Son of Liberty


Haym Salomon, Son of Liberty

This is the story of a business man who was a great American patriot. It is also the story of some of the things that lay behind the American Revolution.
It is about a Jew -- Haym Salomon [1740-1785] -- a banker and broker who dies in an unsung battle, that his country might be free.
The American Revolution was waged not only on the field of battle but in the long underground struggle that went on in the commerce marts of Philadelphia. Here is the story of all those men who fought long, silently, and uncomplainingly against the three great enemies of young America, poverty, starvation, and bankruptcy.
For without their contribution of money to pay for the troops, to buy food and guns, even George Washington could not have kept an army in the field. The Revolution lived, in great part, because these men believed in it, because they stood as security for a nation that had no security.
When Haym Salomon escaped from the British in New York and made his way to Philadelphia in 1778, he arrived alone and penniless and friendless. But he came with a dream of what America might be and with an unflagging determination to play his part in the making of a country.
How he built up a fortune out of nothing, how he laid that fortune at the service of the Revolution, and how he helped to rescue the tottering finances of his country is all told here.
It is a story of old New York and old Philadelphia, of a colonial city of thirty thousand souls suddenly thrust into the spotlight as the capital of free America.
Through the pages of the book and the streets of the city march all the colorful characters of the time -- war profiteers, patriots, revolutionists, blockade runners, privateers and pirates, congressmen, army officers, commission men, spies and counter spies, Tories and republicans...
It is a humanized section of history -- a story never before fully told for young people -- which helps to define for them some of the ingredients which went into the making of America.

Haym Salomon (ca. 1740 - 1785)

Haym Salomon: The
rest of the story

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IN the pantheon of American Jewish heroes, Haym Salomon (1740-1785) has attained legendary status. His life was brief and tumultuous, but his impact on the American imagination was great. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp hailing Salomon as a "Financial Hero of the American Revolution." A monument to Salomon, George Washington and Robert Morris graces East Wacker Drive in Chicago and Beverly Hills, California, is home to an organization called the American Jewish Patriots and Friends of Haym Salomon.

However, Salomon's life was not all triumph. A successful financier in the early 1780s, he died in 1785 leaving a wife and four young children with debts larger than his estate. When his son petitioned Congress to recover money he claimed his father was owed by the government, various committees refused to recognize the family's claims. In 1936, Congress did vote to erect a monument to Salomon in the District of Columbia, but funds for the actual construction were never appropriated.

Born in Lissa, Poland, in 1740, Salomon spent several years moving around western Europe and England, developing fluency in several languages that served him well for the remainder of his life. Reaching New York City in 1772, he swiftly established himself as a successful merchant and dealer in foreign securities. Striking up an acquaintance with Alexander MacDougall, leader of the New York Sons of Liberty, Salomon became active in the patriot cause. When war broke out in 1776, Salomon got a contract to supply American troops in central New York. In 1777, he married Rachel Franks, whose brother Isaac was a lieutenant colonel on George Washington's staff. Their ketubah resides at the American Jewish Historical Society.

In the wake of a fire that destroyed much of New York City, British occupation forces arrested and imprisoned Salomon. He gained release because the British hoped to use his language skills to communicate with their German mercenaries. Instead, Salomon covertly encouraged the Hessians to desert. Arrested again in early 1778, Salomon had his property confiscated. A drum-head court martial sentenced him to hang. Salomon escaped � probably with the help of other Sons of Liberty � and fled penniless to Philadelphia. His wife and child joined him soon afterward.

In Philadelphia, Salomon resumed his brokerage business. The French Minister appointed him paymaster general of the French forces fighting for the American cause. The Dutch, and Spanish governments also engaged him to sell the securities that supported their loans to the Continental Congress.

In 1781, Congress established the Office of Finance to save the United States from fiscal ruin. Salomon allied himself with Superintendent of Finance William Morris and became one of the most effective brokers of bills of exchange to meet federal government expenses. Salomon also personally advanced funds to members of the Continental Congress and other federal officers, charging interest and commissions well below the market rates. James Madison confessed that "I have for some time ... been a pensioner on the favor of Haym Salomon, a Jew broker."

While supporting the national cause, Salomon also played a prominent role in the Philadelphia and national Jewish community affairs. He served as a member of he governing council of Philadelphia's Congregation Mikveh Israel. He was treasurer of Philadelphia's society for indigent travelers, and participated in the nation's first known rabbinic court of arbitration. Salomon helped lead the successful fight to repeal the test oath which barred Jews and other non-Christians from holding public office in Pennsylvania.

He operated within the context of a society, and an age, that considered all Jews as Shylocks and money grubbers. In 1784, writing as "A Jew Broker,' Salomon protested charges that Jewish merchants were profiteering. Salomon thought it unjust that such charges were "cast so indiscriminately on the Jews of this city at large . . . for the faults of a few." His impassioned defense of his fellow Jews brought him national approbation.

Within five years of his arrival in Philadelphia, Salomon advanced from penniless fugitive to respected businessman, philanthropist and defender of his people. He risked his fortune, pledged his good name and credit on behalf of the Revolution, and stood up for religious liberty. Despite financial setbacks at the end of his life, Salomon's name is forever linked to the idealism and success of the American Revolution, and to the contributions Jews have made to the cause of American freedom.