by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Haym Salomon was a hero and a fervent patriot whose love of liberty and business acumen combined made him a vital force for the War of Independence. Born in Poland, in 1740, he was forced to flee for his life due to his fight for freedom alongside Pulaski and Kosciusko, who later became military heroes in the American Revolution.
After Salomon landed in New York, he immediately became a successful broker because of his education and his remarkable talents. He married Rachel Franks, who came from a famous American Jewish family.
While New York was the seat of British power, and he was doing business with the wealthy loyalists, Salomon joined the Sons of Liberty, a group of revolutionary patriots. When the Revolutionary War started in 1776, the British arrested him and flung him into prison as a SPY.
The British recognized his linguistic abilities-he could speak 10 languages -- and put him to work as an interpreter. He was finally released and went back into business, aiding the Colonists with his mounting fortune.
Salomon was arrested again for his pro-revolutionary activities. This time he was tortured and condemned to be hanged. With the aid of his friends, he managed to escape to Philadelphia, where he arrived penniless. Salomon quickly retumed to business, using his profits to buy food for the starving Colonial Army. Generals Washington, Lafayette, Von Steuben and others often came to him for food and material aid.
Salomon negotiated many loans for the Colonies from France and Holland, but never took a commission for himself. According to legend, General Washington's appeal for funds with which to maintain his ragged army came to Salomon on Yom Kippur. Devoutly religious, Salomon recognized that love of country was an aspect of his religion. So he turned to the congregation and suspended services to secure pledges for the necessary funds. Only after he obtained the necessary amount needed in pledges did he proceed with the solemn holiday observances.
It became a regular practice -- the Revolutionary leaders' diaries testify to this- "that when money was needed for the Revolutionary War, you went to Haym Salomon."
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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