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Salomon was important American
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Dear Editor,
The history of America could not be told without the important role of Haym Salomon, a Jew from Poland and later Philadelphia. He played a very important role in the American Revolution and sometimes said that America was the promised land for the Jews. He started a brokerage business in Philadelphia and became such an astute business man that he was sought after by investors from all 13 states as well as Europe because of his sound judgement and profitable business ventures.
Haym Salomon was a personal friend of George Washington and when he saw the state of the American Army in regard to living conditions and uniforms he was “shaken up” badly. It was a pitiful sight. It was an all volunteer army, their morale was extremely low and desertions were common.
He was eager to become involved in the war effort and tried many times to contact Robert Morris, a member of congress and the treasurer of the continental Congress. It was Morris’s job to raise money for munitions and supplies for the Revolutionary Army. The Continental Congress had no power to raise taxes and the war was on the brink of disaster. Morris, however, was anti-Semitic, he didn’t like Jews and had to be persuaded to contact Salomon for financial help. Not only did Salomon provided money for the Revolutionary Army but he also financed most of the expenses of La Fayettes” army and made personal loans to statesmen such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, with no interest. On record is the following: “Haym Salomon not only helped keep the nation in finances thru the sale of subsidies to France and Holland, he turned over to the United States all the commissions he earned. He also pledged his personal fortune to the Bank of America which would have otherwise closed. Neither he or his heirs ever collected a dime of what was due him from the government. He never even received a medal for his service.” After extensive research it has been estimated that at least $800.000 (probably a lot more) was loaned to the colonies. At 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 217 years it has been determined that the most conservative figure due the heirs would be $2.5 trillion owed to them by the U.S. government. After Haym’s death, his wife tried for months to be repaid on the personal loans. After turning over her securities and certificates to the state treasurer she was told that her papers had been “lost”. Generations that have followed have tried, in vain, to collect any portion of these loans.
Disaster still loomed on the horizon after George Washington became president. Salomon was laying on his death bed dying of tuberculosis. Morris had to appeal to him for financial help, one more time. He could not refuse. He got out of bed and opened his brokerage office for a few days and raised the money needed, and saved the new nation from bankruptcy. Salomon could have amassed a fortune for his family and heirs and when confronted by his wife when she told him he’d never get paid back, his response was that “The War of Independence is not a charity but an investment. There will be a country where our children will be free to differ in the way they worship God and still enjoy the friendship of other people. I want most to leave the children an opportunity for happiness equal to that of other citizens of a new nation and a feeling that they are as important a part of the new nation as anyone else.” He died in his mid 40’s, penniless, leaving a wife and four children. He was buried in a little Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. The location of the grave is unknown.
In 1975, the United States Postal Department published a stamp honoring Haym Salomon. “As pressure mounts on our nation to betray our Israeli allies, please take a moment to remember the debt we owe-a debt amounting to our very existence as a free nation.” There is a statue of Robert Morris, George Washington and Haym Salomon in downtown Chicago. One might ask I know George Washington and Robert Morris but who is Salomon. Now they know.
LaVerne Reinhardt,
Great Bend