SALOMON


SALOMON (Solomon), HAYM (1740–1785), early American merchant and Revolutionary War patriot. Salomon, who was born in Lissa, Poland, arrived in New York about 1775 after wandering in Europe and became one of the most prominent 18th-century American Jews. During the Revolutionary War he was a distiller and sutler to the American army, and was captured as a spy by the British. His life was spared, and he served as an interpreter in their commissary department. Continuing to give information to the Americans, he assisted their prisoners to escape British captivity while operating a profitable victualing business in New York City under British occupation. Married to Rachel Franks in 1777, he had to flee a year later to Philadelphia, where he began a brokerage and commission business. In 1781 he became an assistant to Robert Morris, superintendent of the Office of Finance, after serving in a similar capacity as broker and treasurer for the huge expenses of the French army stationed in America. Morris characterized him as "useful to the public interest." Salomon also lent money without charge to impecunious members of the Continental Congress, among them James Madison, who recommended him as "our little friend in Front Street." In 1784 Salomon expanded his business activities to New York, opening a brokerage and auctioneering house there with Jacob Mordecai. A mason, Salomon was a major contributor in 1782 to the Congregation Mikveh Israel building, Philadelphia. He argued against a New Testament oath taken by officeholders in Pennsylvania and worked for political rights of Jews. Though a successful merchant, Salomon invested most of his money in Continental stocks and bonds, and his accounts showed a deficit at the time of his death. The newspaper obituary referred to him as "an eminent broker of this city… remarkable for his skill and integrity in his profession, and for his generous and human deportment." He left four children and a widow, who later married David Hilborn. By 1799 she was living in the Batavian Republic. Benjamin Gomez was appointed guardian of Salomon's son HAYM M. (1785–1858), and Joseph Andrews of his daughter DEBORAH (1783–1808). Exaggerated claims were made for Salomon's services to the American Revolution, largely as a point of Jewish apologetics. Without question, however, he was a vigorous patriot at great personal risk, and a competent financial servant of American independence and of some of its leaders.

[Leo Hershkowitz]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.