Haym Salomon

Salomon was a Polish-born Jewish immigrant to America who played an important role in financing the Revolution. When the war began, Salomon was operating as a financial broker in New York City. He was drawn to the Patriot side early and was arrested by the British as a spy in 1776. He was pardoned and used by the British as an interpreter with their German troops. Salomon continued to help British prisoners escape and encouraged German soldiers to desert. Arrested again in 1778 and sentenced to death, he escaped to the rebel capital of Philadelphia and resumed his financial career.

Salomon arrived in Philadelphia as the Continental Congress was struggling to raise money to support the war. Congress had no powers of direct taxation. The government had no choice but to borrow money and government finances were in a chaotic state. In 1781 Congress appointed former Congressman Robert Morris superintendent of finances. Morris established the Bank of North America and relied on public-spirited financiers like Salomon to subscribe to the bank, find purchasers for government bills of exchange, and lend their own money to the government.

From 1781 on, Salomon brokered bills of exchange for the American government and extended interest-free personal loans to members of Congress. He was an influential member of Philadelphia’s Mikveh Israel congregation. He helped lead the fight to overturn restrictive Pennsylvania laws barring non-Christians from holding public office. Like many elite citizens of Philadelphia, he owned at least one slave. Possibly as a result of his purchases of government debt, Salomon died penniless in 1785.

Source: Haym Salomon
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Public Domain

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