Categories: American Founding Fathers | Sons of Liberty, American Revolution | Ashkenazim in Leszno | Jewish Immigrants to America | Tuberculosis | New York, New York | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | 1776 Project.
Haym Salomon (or Hayim Solomon) was born in 1740 in Leszno/Lissia, Poland. His father was a Rabbi in Poland, whose family originally came from Portugal.
Traveling Europe in the 1760s and early 1770s, Haym learned finance, business, and several languages.
He came to New York City about late 1772. In NYC, Haym was a merchant and also had a brokerage firm and commission merchant's company.
He also became a member of the 'Liberty Boys' and 'Sons of Liberty'. He arranged for arms to be shipped into the colonies from the Dutch island of St. Eustatius , and caused trouble for the British.
Haym had been imprisoned by the British while in NYC (at the "Old Sugar House", a warehouse) as a spy in 1776 where he later suffered from tuberculosis. Haym was pardoned and used to translate German with the German soldiers for the British. He also helped American prisoners escape from the British  and encouraged hundreds of German soldiers to leave the British service.
Haym married Rachel Franks on July 6, 1777. His first child, Ezekiel, was born July 1778.
Out of prison, Haym continued supporting the rebellion against England. Arrested again for his pro-rebel activities, then tortured and sentenced to death by hanging by the British in Aug. 11, 1778. His property was also taken by British. Haym used his knowledge of German (he spoke eight languages) to convince his Hessian jailer with a bribe of money to escape with him (or help him escape) to Philadelphia, where he arrived penniless.
He escaped with his family back in NYC while he followed Geo. Washington's Army and fled to Philadelphia, PA. Haym joined with other Jews who had fled British control.
NOTE: When Salomon arrived in Philadelphia around 25 August 1778 he was penniless as the British had confiscated all his property upon his conviction for treason. He estimated the fortune lost was between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds, most of which would have been from his wife's dowry (Source 2, pages 11 and 31). On Thursday, August 27, 1778, Salomon presented a letter to the Continental Congress requesting a position in the government. In the proceedings it reads: "A memorial from Hyam (sic) Soloman, late of New York, was read: (with a note 2) Note 2 reads "This memorial, dated August 25, is in the Papers of the Congress, No. 41, IX, folio 58. It is signed by Haym Saloman." Following the note citation in the main body it reads "Ordered, that it be referred to the Board of War." Salomon was never given a position in the government from this request. As to recouping his fortune after 1778, two letters from Salomon provide us with some insight. In his original "Letter Book" were letters dated January 9, 1783 and June 20, 1783 in which he states it was not until late 1782 when he had spare money in which to again provide money to aid his parents still living in Poland (Source 2, pages 12-13). In another letter dated July 10, 1783, Salomon complained to some relatives who desired sending a nephew to the colonies for him to care of. Quoted from the letter, Salomon stated "Your idea of my riches are too extreme. Rich I am not, but the little I have I think it my duty to share with my poor father and mother." (Source 2, page 13) (RHT)
Haym established himself as a broker, selling currency and bank notes at a discount. He made a good deal of money as a broker, merchant and auctioneer from 1781 to 1784 - he was an official broker in PA - converted bills of exchange and foreign government notes (France & Holland), changing into spendable cash. Often working out of the "London Coffee House" in Philadelphia, he acted as a broker for the Office of Finance. Haym owned a black slave named "Joe" who ran away in 1780.
He always managed to raise necessary funds, especially to fund supplies, food and equipment for the patriot soldiers.  Haym was known to give support money (interest-free loans) to patriots in Phil., PA, like James Madison. Gen. George Washington knew he could always count on Haym Salomon to secure money to keep the Continental Army running.
Haym put 350,000 sterling pounds into the Yorktown campaign led by George Washington. He had first used his own fortune (600,000 sterling pounds) and when that ran out secured money from other Jewish communities.  He was considered to be the financial hero of our American Revolution. NOTE: Based on the above note regarding Salomon's financial state, he could not have had this amount of money in September 1781. Based on other documentation, Salomon did not provide any money or other resources for the Yorktown campaign. To understand this, one must look at the military situation and action taken by both Washington and Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance, starting in February 1781. In February 1781, Washington came to realize he could not militarily defeat the British without further aid from France. With the aid of various French personnel supporting the Americans, Washington drafted a letter to King Louis XVI of France asking for a loan of 25 million French livres, additional French soldiers to be put under the command of Count Rochambeau, and use of the large French military fleet under the command of Admiral de Grasse. Count Rochambeau was the commander of a 4,800 manned French army sent in March 1780 by the French king to America to support Washington. This letter was sent to Benjamin Franklin in France for him to present to the King and it was followed by Lt. Col. John Laurens, a member of Washington's staff, to provide support to Franklin. By the time Laurens arrived, Franklin already had received an answer from the king. Laurens penned a March 24, 1781 letter to Washington stating no additional French soldiers would be forthcoming; a loan of 25 million livres was out the question but six million livres would be provided as an out right gift; and de Grasse would be ordered to support Washington with coordination being made between de Grasse and Rochambeau. In May 1781, Washington and Rochambeau met in Wethersfield, Connecticut, to discuss plans for an attack on the British. Rochambeau opted to move south and attack Cornwallis while Washington opted to attack the British army in New York City under the command of Sir Henry Clinton. The result was to attack Clinton. In late July, Washington opted to change the attack to Cornwallis. This began a series of correspondence and meetings between Washington and Morris. In the first week of August Washington informed Morris he would marching his troops, with all of their military armament, to the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay to a place called the Head of Elk in Maryland. Washington requested Morris to provide flour, salt meat, rum and vessels with low draft to float his forces down the Chesapeake to Virginia. Morris replied he was taking action to accomplish the request and this is recorded in his diary/log as the Superintendent of Finance. Later Washington supplied more details on the amount of supplies originally requested and added an additional request. He wanted sufficient money in hard currency to pay his troops a one month's salary. Morris replied he was still taking care of the original request but there was no money to pay the troops. In further letters, Washington first estimated the amount needed would be $20,000 and later stated this probably would not be sufficient. Washington also stated de Grasse was heading to the Head of Elk and would provide additional ships to transport the troops. In the first week of September Washington's and Rochambeau's troops marched through Philadelphia. In the diary/log for September 5-7, Morris states he made supplication to Count Rochambeau for the loan of money from the French war chest to pay Washington's troops a one month's salary. Rochambeau agreed. Morris, in his diary and a September letter to General Benjamin Lincoln, stated Rochambeau provided approximately $30,000 but this was short by about $6,000 and further stating he, Morris, provided the $6,000 for his own personal account. In all of the correspondence and meetings between Washington and Morris the name Haym Salomon is never mentioned. (RHT)
At the end of the war, 1783, a small portion of the money was repaid but most of it was never repaid. NOTE: There is no record Haym Salomon ever made any claims regarding repayment of any loans to the government and there was no payment. The evidence seems to indicate Salomon never lent any money to the government. Source 2, pages 5 and 6. (RHT)
Salomon's contributions was to serve as a trustee and contributor to construction of a building in 1782 (paid 1/3 the costs) for the new Mikveh Israel congregation in Phil., PA, just a few blocks from Independence Hall.
Also, Haym had organized the Jewish War Veterans.
Besides his frist son, Ezekiel Salomon, born July 20, 1778; there was Sallie Salomon born Oct. 17, 1779; Deborah Salomon born Jan. 12,1783; and Haym Moses Salomon born April 23, 1785.
Haym Salomon never got to see his fourth child. Haym's illness from his time in British prisons caught up with him. Haym died Jan. 6, 1785 in Phil., PA. With his early death at age 45, his wife, Rachel had her hands filled raising the four young children. With the loans and monies given out during the war, the Salomons had no money left. Haym had died poor.
Haym was buried at Mikveh Israel Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.
The obituary printed in the Independent Gazetteer read: "Thursday, last, expired, after a lingering illness, Mr. Hyam 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."
During the period of the American Revolution, Hayme was a broker and helped convert French loans into ready cash by selling bills of exchange for Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance. In this way he aided the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. Note: Haym Salomon could not have performed these duties "during the American Revolutionary War." The office of the Superintendent of Finance was not created until February 20, 1781, eight months before the war ended. Robert Morris was appointed as the Superintendent and served in that post until November 1, 1784, when the position was disestablished. Salomon was not given a letter stating he was a "Broker to the Office of Finance" until July 1782, nine months after the war ended. (RHT)
Hayme is therefore considered to be one of the Founding Fathers of America
1. Jewish Marriage Certificate (Ketubah) dated July 6, 1777, New York, maintained by American Jewish Historical Society, New York, and Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
2. "Haym Salomon, The Patriot Broker of the Revolution: His Real Achievments and Their Exaggeration" by Max Kohler, February 18, 1931. This document was an "open letter to Congressman Celler." Congressman Celler had requested Kohler perform a complete research on Salomon when, in 1928/1929, where was a recommendation for a statue to be erected to Salomon at Madison Square in New York City. At the time Kohler was the Vice President of the Jewish Historical Society, a graduate of the Columbia Law School, former U.S. District Attorney's assistant and Special U.S. District Attorney.
3. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Thursday, August 27, 1778
4. March 24, 1781 letter from Lt. Col. John Laurens to George Washington, written from Passy near Paris.
5. Documentation from Washington's letters and diary and from Morris' diary/log and letters
6. American Campaigns by Matthew Forney Steele, Lt. Col., US Army Retired, 1951, pages 25 and 26
7. Atlas to Accompany Steele's American Campaigns by Colonel Vincent J. Esposito, 1956, pages 8 and 9
On 25 Nov 2008 Alice Luckhardt wrote:
"Haym Salomon - Gentlemen, Scholar, Patriot. A banker whose only interest was the interest of his Country. "
DuringWW II - a liberty ship was named for him “SS Haym Solomon”
A special honored of his image on a US postal stamp in 1975.
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On 18 Dec 2016 at 20:06 GMT Darlene (Scott) Kerr wrote:
Haym is 18 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 25 degrees from Robynne Lozier, 18 degrees from Pocahontas Rolfe and 15 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.