Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Haym Salomon: The rest of the story - Francis Salvador: Martyr of the American Revolution

Haym Salomon: The
rest of the story -- 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. 

Francis Salvador: Martyr of the American Revolution -- WHEN we think of Jewish heroes of the American Revolution, Haym Salomon, the "financier" of the patriot cause or Isaac Franks, aide-de-camp to General George Washington, are the first names that come to mind. Rarely do we hear of South Carolina's Francis Salvador, the first identified Jew to be elected to an American colonial legislature, the only Jew to serve in a revolutionary colonial congress and the first Jew to die for the cause of American liberty.
Francis Salvador was born in London in 1747, the fourth generation of Salvadors to live in England. His great grandfather Joseph, a merchant, established himself as a leader of England's Sephardic community and became the first Jewish director of the East India Company. When George III ascended the British throne, Joseph Salvador arranged an audience for the seven-man delegation that officially congratulated the king on behalf of the Jewish community.
Even before Francis Salvador's birth, his family developed interests in America. Salvador's grandfather teamed with two other leaders of the London Jewish community to raise funds to send some of London's destitute Jews to the new British colony in Savannah, Georgia. The Georgia trustees subsequently voted to ban Jewish immigration to Georgia but not before grandfather Salvador and his two associates had landed forty-two Jewish settlers in Savannah in July, 1733. When the founder of the colony, James Oglethorpe, intervened on behalf of the Jews, the trustees decided to let them stay. The Salvador family then purchased personal land holdings in South Carolina.
As a young man, Francis Salvador was raised in luxury in London. He was well educated by private tutors and traveled extensively. At age twenty, he married his first cousin, Sarah, and took his place in the family shipping firm. The devastating effects of a 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, where the family had extensive interests, weakened the family fortune. The failure of the East India Company completed its ruin. By the early 1770's, virtually the only thing left of the Salvador family's immense wealth was the large plot of land they had purchased in the South Carolina colony.

In 1773, in an attempt to rebuild the family fortune, Francis Salvador moved to South Carolina. Intending to send for his wife Sarah and their children when he had prepared a proper home for them, Salvador arrived in Charleston in December and established himself as a planter on a seven thousand acre tract he acquired from his uncle. Salvador found himself drawn to the growing American movement against British rule and unhesitatingly threw himself into the patriot cause. Within a year of his arrival, at the age of 27, Salvador was elected to the General Assembly of South Carolina. He became the first Jew to hold that high an elective office in the English colonies. He would hold the post until his sudden death.
In 1774, Francis Salvador was elected as a delegate to South Carolina's revolutionary Provincial Congress, which assembled in Charleston in January 1775. The Provincial Congress framed a bill of rights and prepared an address to the royal governor of South Carolina setting forth the colonists' grievances against the British crown. Salvador played an important role in the South Carolina Provincial Congress, which appointed him to a commission to negotiate with Tories living in the northern and western parts of the colony to secure their promise not to actively aid the royal government.
When the second Provincial Congress assembled in November 1775, Salvador urged that body to instruct the South Carolina delegation in Philadelphia to vote for American independence. Salvador played a leading role in the Provincial Congress, chairing its ways and means committee and serving on a select committee authorized to issue bills of credit to pay the militia. Salvador was also part of a special commission established to preserve the peace in the interior parts of South Carolina, where the English Superintendent of Indian Affairs was busily negotiating treaties with the Cherokees to induce the tribe to attack the colonists.
When the Cherokees attacked settlements along the frontier on July 1, 1776, massacring and scalping colonial inhabitants, Salvador, in an act reminiscent of Paul Revere, mounted his horse and galloped nearly thirty miles to give the alarm. He then returned to join the militia in the front lines, defending the settlements under siege. During a Cherokee attack early in the morning of August first, Salvador was shot. He fell into some bushes, where he was subsequently discovered and scalped. Salvador died forty-five minutes later. Major Andrew Williamson, the militia commander, reported of Salvador that, "When I came up to him after dislodging the enemy and speaking to him, he asked whether I had beaten the enemy. I told him 'Yes.' He said he was glad of it and shook me by the hand and bade me farewell, and said he would die in a few minutes."

His friend Henry Laurens reported that Salvador's death was "universally regretted," while William Henry Drayton, later Chief Justice of South Carolina, noted that Salvador had "sacrificed his life in the service of his adopted country." Dead at twenty-nine, never again seeing his wife or children after leaving England, Salvador was the first Jew to die waging the American Revolution. Ironically, because he was fighting on the frontier, he probably did not receive the news that the Continental Congress in Philadelphia had, as he urged, adopted the Declaration of Independence. 

The Making of a
Jewish Citizen -- ON APRIL 18, 1705, Queen Anne, "by the grace of G-d, Queen of England, Scotland France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith," issued a patent to "Luis Gomez … who, although born across the sea, is hereby made our faithful subject and will ever be our licensed denizen." The patent promised that Gomez's heirs "are and will be licensed subjects, and he and his heirs are to be held reputed, treated and governed as our faithful subjects [as if they were] born within the Kingdom of England, and he and his heirs may hold, possess, use and enjoy all property and acquisitions of whatever kind or nature in whatever places and jurisdictions within our Kingdom of England."
With this proclamation, the Americanization of Luis Moses Gomez, one of the early Jewish settlers of New York, was officially recognized.

Luis Moses Gomez was born in Spain in 1660 and lived in France and England before emigrating to New York City in 1703. In 1714, Gomez, now protected by the denization patent, purchased 6,000 acres of land near Newburgh, in Orange County New York and erected a fortress-like house and water mill on Jews Creek, where he and his sons conducted trade with local Indians, sawed lumber and ground grain for their neighbors.
Until his denization, Gomez was legally considered an alien with few rights and many civil disabilities. Perhaps his greatest handicap was his inability to own or bequeath property. To correct this problem, Gomez found it necessary to acquire—or more precisely to purchase—his personal denization patent.
Denization is a term no longer in common usage. Currently, under American law, a resident alien may own property and engage in business, and is, with some exceptions (such as voting in elections) equal to U. S. citizens in the eyes of the law. But eighteenth-century colonial Americans recognized a number of now non-existent legal statuses, each of which reduced the rights of their holders to less than full citizenship: indentured servitude, slavery and, of course, denization. Gomez's patent refers to him as a "licensed subject" of the crown, but not a full citizen.
An alien could acquire the right to own property in the English realm by one of two means: naturalization by a special act of Parliament in London or, more quickly, by the purchase from the crown of a denization patent. Luis Moses Gomez paid 57 pounds for his patent, more than $20,000 in today's currency. In 1715, to assure their right to inherit their father's estate, Gomez's four oldest sons purchased patents from Anne's successor, George I.
Gomez's denization carried specific responsibilities and limitations. His patent required that he pay "the lot and scot (customary taxes) in the same manner as our subjects do." At the same time "said Luis Gomez and his heirs shall pay and contribute … the custom duties and subsidies for materials and merchandise, just as immigrants and aliens are always required to do." Under current American law, such double taxation would be considered unconstitutional.

The patent did provide Gomez and his heirs with some civil liberties accorded true English citizens. It provided that Gomez "may peaceably, freely and fully have, possess, use and enjoy each and all franchises and privileges as any of our loyal citizens born within the kingdom … without trouble or annoyance by ministers and Officials … of the [Anglican] Faith." Queen Anne would not explicitly grant Gomez the right to Jewish worship but she could allow him the same rights possessed by Puritans, Quakers and Catholics—to observe religious practices without subsidy from the crown and to own property for religious purposes. Thus, in 1729, Gomez used his right to own land to purchase a plot in lower Manhattan that became the first cemetery of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.
The denization of Luis Moses Gomez and his four elder sons was an important step in the gradual civil acceptance of Jews in colonial American society. After 1715, Gomez had two more sons, both born in New York and both citizens by birth under English law. Luis Moses Gomez had invested in denization to assure that his sons would be citizens. His dream was accomplished.
On October 11, 1998, the Gomez Foundation for Mill House, unveiled the original denization patent at Mill House, the home of the Gomez family and the oldest extant Jewish homestead in North America. The Foundation still operates the original Gomez Mill House as a museum, With the generous help of the Michael Jesselson family of New York City, the Foundation acquired the document, inscribed in Latin, from the estate of a private collector. Visitors may view the document by visiting the house in Marlboro, NY, an hour north of New York City. Call 914-236-3126 for directions and hours. 

How Hebrew
came to Yale -- FEW AMERICANS have heard of Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal, but every Yale University graduate has seen the evidence of his influence over the history of that institution. Because of Carigal’s relationship with Yale’s fifth president, Reverend Ezra Stiles, in 1777 Hebrew became a required course in the freshman curriculum.
Many colonial-era American Christians had a respect for –even a fascination with—the Hebrew language and Jewish religion. In part, their interest stemmed from a belief that the Hebrew Bible, which they dubbed the “Old Testament,” laid the ground for the Christian “New Testament.” Educated American Christians, especially New England clergymen, assumed that an accurate reading of the Old Testament was best done in its original language. By the 1720s, it was possible to study Hebrew at Harvard College under the tutelage of Professor Judah Monis.

The philo-Semitic attitudes of many New England Christian ministers led to early interfaith relationships between Christian and Jewish clergy. Perhaps the best of documented these is that between Reverend Stiles of the Second Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island and Rabbi Carigal, who resided in Newport for six months in the spring and summer of 1773. The two men developed a friendship that personally influenced Stiles and turned him into a Hebrew scholar. What we know of Rabbi Carigal comes to us mainly through the writings of Reverend Stiles, who kept a detailed diary of their six-month friendship. Carigal matched the 18th century’s archetype of the “wandering Jew.” Born in Hebron, Palestine in 1733, Carigal became a rabbi at age seventeen. At age 19, he traveled to Egypt, and Turkey; in 1757, he toured Italy, Austria, Bohemia, Germany, the Netherlands and England. Between 1761 and 1764, Carigal visited Curacao, Amsterdam, Germany and Italy before returning to Hebron. He visited France and England in 1768, Jamaica in 1771, and Philadelphia, New York and Newport in 1772 and 1773. We do not know with certainty why Carigal traveled so often; most likely it was to raise funds for the religious Jews of Hebron.
Stiles first encountered Carigal at the Newport synagogue when Carigal presided over a Purim service in March 1773. Stiles recorded that Carigal “was dressed in a red garment with the usual Phylacteries and habiliments, the white silk Surplice; he wore a high fur cap, had a long beard. He has the appearance of an ingenious and sensible man.” Impressed by Carigal, Stiles returned to the synagogue to hear him lead Passover services four weeks later, an event about which Stiles wrote copiously, including the fact that on his shaved head Carigal wore “a high Fur Cap, exactly like a Womans Muff, and about 9 or 10 Inches high, the Aperture atop was closed with green cloth.” Stiles described the singing at the service as “fine and melodious.”
Stiles invited Carigal and Aaron Lopez, a leading Newport Jewish merchant, to visit his home on March 30, 1773. Stiles and Carigal struck up a remarkable friendship. Stiles records no fewer than 28 meetings with Carigal before the latter departed for the Caribbean in September of that year. The topics of their conversations ranged widely through kabbalistic mysticism, the nature of Hebrew and Arabic languages, the question of which language Moses wrote in, the relationship between Turks and Jews in Palestine; ancient coins and books, circumcision among Coptic Christians, the coming of the Messiah and numerous other subjects.

During this period, Carigal tutored Stiles intensively in Hebrew. Stiles already had a basic knowledge of the language; by the time Carigal departed from Newport, Stiles and he were exchanging lengthy letters in Hebrew. Stiles began translating major portions of the Hebrew Bible into English. Carigal was elected rabbi of Congregation Kaal Kodesh Midhi Israel in Barbados. He and Stiles continued corresponding until Carigal’s death there in 1777. In that same year, Stiles was called to Yale to become its president; a year later, he became the school’s first Semitics professor. While the Revolutionary War had forced the postponement of Yale’s commencement since 1776, in September 1781, the ceremonies were held –although “in constant fear that they will be interrupted by the Enemy”— and Stiles delivered an address in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic.

A Yale student wrote in 1788, “The President insisted that the whole class should undertake the study of Hebrew…For the Hebrew he possessed a high veneration.” As it turns out, Stiles’s prescription was not popular and by 1790, he modified his edict: “From my first accession to the Presidency ... I have obliged all the Freshmen to study Hebrew. This has proved very disagreeable to a Number of the Students." 

No comments:

Post a Comment