Founding Freedom

Contributing to the Formation of the United States

When demands for justice across the British colonies in America escalated to battle cries, Jewish patriots contributed to the fight for freedom. Some took up arms in the revolutionary army; others sacrificed to provide vital support to the troops.

Haym Solomon (1740–1785) was a significant financier of the American Revolution. Solomon exchanged loans in the form of foreign money secured by Benjamin Franklin. This bank note from 1780 may be the earliest surviving record of his business in Philadelphia. A committed patriot, Solomon conducted his business with the revolutionary army at the low rate of 1/2 percent—allowing the army to put more money toward purchasing much–needed provisions such as food, clothing and medicine. It has been suggested that he forgave some of his loans to the army.

The revolutionary troops were often in dire need, and Jews who supported their cause donated money and supplies. One such act of generosity was the subject of an 1824 letter from General John Taylor to Bernard Judah. The letter discussed Bernard’s father Samuel’s pro–revolutionary activities in Montreal in 1774, and it expressed gratitude for the items that he donated.

  • Soon after this colonial currency was issued, it depreciated by 100 times its original value due to inflation.

    1776

  • Provision order for a good side of beef, requested by William McIntosh and signed by Mordecai Sheftall.

    1778

  • Last will and testament of Mordecai Sheftall

    1778

  • Provision return for the Third Battalion of the Revolutionary Army, signed by John Peter Wagon and received of Sheftall Sheftall (son of Mordecai Sheftall).

    1778

  • Letter from Mordecai Sheftall to his wife, Francis.

    1779

  • During the Revolution, Colonel Mordecai Sheftall was captured by British Forces. This is an example of a report of Main Guard Prisoners and Prisoners on Parole.

    Late 18th century

  • Haym Salomon bank note signed by Francis Hopkinson, Treasurer of Loans.

    1780

  • List of goods sold to Haym Salomon.

    Late 18th century

  • Two bills of exchange (in French) that list Haym Salomon as a party.

    Late 18th century

  • Bill of exchange for $195 drawn by John Habersham in favor of Mr. Mordecai Sheftall on Mr. John Banks, Contractor for the Southern Army.

    1783

  • Stock certificate from the Pennsylvania Property Company, signed by Robert Morris.

    1797

  • Eulogy of Haym Salomon handwritten in the family bible.

    Turn of the 19th century

  • Letter from General John Taylor to Bernard Judah, remembering Samual Judah’s generous support in the struggle for independence.

    1824

  • Dust jacket of the book Haym Salomon: Son of Liberty, published in New York.

    1941

  • Alfred P. Miller, former CEO of F•E•G•S Health and Human Services System, speaks on giving as a child and giving as paramount to Jews.

    1984


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Contributors to the Cause includes only a small portion of the material that is housed at the Center for Jewish History. The five partners’ archival collections span more than 700 years of history. To search the catalog, click here. To plan your visit to the Center’s New York home, click here.