Haym Salomon: One Man’s Sacrifice for the Revolutionary War – Intercessors for America

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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt.6:19-21

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How a Jewish Man Saved the Country

“The surrender of Yorktown and the nearly 8,000 British troops convinced the British Parliament to start negotiating an end to the war. On September 3, 1783, the treaty of Paris was signed. The war was over. If not for Haym Salomon, however, the decisive victory at Yorktown never would have happened.”

I live just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the womb of the nation. In the heart of the city, under the shadow of William Penn atop City Hall, is Independence Mall, home of the historic sites of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was hotly debated and signed, and the much loved Liberty Bell. Just off the Mall is the less well-known landmark of Mikvek Israel Synagogue. It is the oldest continually operating synagogue in the US, and the home congregation of Haym Salomon, financier of the Revolutionary War. This congregation, and Hyam himself, played a crucial but little-known role in our winning the war of independence.

Mikvek Israel and William Penn

Mikveh Israel, a Sephardic Orthodox synagogue, is the oldest in Philadelphia, dating from 1740. Nathan Levy, a Jewish merchant in Philadelphia, desired a consecrated burial place for one of his children and so applied to William Penn for “a small piece of land” with permission to make it a family cemetery. This property, and another given by Thomas Penn, William Penn’s son, became Mikveh Israel Cemetery.

Mikveh Israel Synagogue was birthed as the Jewish community in Philadelphia gathered as a congregation for informal services. Their official charter dates to 1773, and among their congregants are listed revolutionary patriots such as Jonas Phillips, the Gratz family, and Haym Solomon. Their first full time rabbi was a man named Gershom Seixas who left his congregation in Manhattan when the British occupied New York City rather than align with the British crown.

Prominent Philadelphians, including Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris, contributed to its building once an appropriate site was chosen. At the final dedication in 1782, Gershom Seixas invoked heaven’s blessing upon, “the members of these states in Congress assembled, and on His Excellency George Washington, commander general of these colonies.” Mikveh Israel’s deeply rooted connection to the nation’s founding is a vital piece of our history.

Haym Salomon

Haym Salomon was born in Leszno, Poland, in 1740. He emigrated from Poland after the Polish Partition in 1770, moving eventually to New York City where he established himself as broker for international merchants. The rest of his story reads like a thrilling spy novel.

“Sympathetic to the Patriot cause, Haym joined the New York branch of the Sons of Liberty, a secret society that did what it could to undermine British interests in the colonies. In 1776, he was arrested by the British and charged with being a spy. He was pardoned on condition that he spend 18 months on a British ship serving as a translator for the Hessian mercenaries, as he was fluent in Polish, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Italian. During those 18 months, Haym used his position to help countless American prisoners escape. He also convinced many Hessian soldiers to abandon the British and join the American forces”, reports Yosef Kaufmann on

In 1778 he was implicated in a plot to burn British naval vessels in the harbor of New York, subsequently arrested and sentenced to death but bribed a guard and escaped, fleeing to Philadelphia. With borrowed money, he started a business as a dealer of bills of exchange. In this capacity, he formed a friendship with Robert Morris, the newly appointed Superintendent of Finance for the 13 colonies. Records show that between 1781 and 1784, through both fundraising and personal loans, he was responsible for financing George Washington over $650,000, today worth approximately $13 million.

Haym and the battle of Yorktown

By 1781, the American congress was effectively broke. The huge cost of financing the war effort had taken its toll. In September of that year, George Washington decided to march on Yorktown to engage General Cornwallis but his troops were on the verge of mutiny. They were weary and lacked food and basic supplies, and so demanded a full months pay, not  in congressional paper money which they deemed worthless, or they would not go on. Washington reached out first to Morris, who said that there were no funds. Washington replied, “Send for Salomon.”

As the story is told, George Washington sent a representative to Mikveh Israel Synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, to ask Salomon to contribute out of his personal funds. Hyam responded by contributing all his personal fortune. Within days he had raised the remainder of the needed funds. With that contribution, Washington conducted the Yorktown campaign, which proved to be the final battle of the Revolution.

Salomon then personally supported various members of the Continental Congress during their stay in Philadelphia, including James Madison and James Wilson. He never asked for repayment.

Hyam’s Legacy

On January 8, 1785, Salomon died suddenly at the age of 44. Due to the fact the government owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars, his family was left penniless. His grave marker is in the Mikveh Israel Cemetery in Philadelphia.

His obituary in the Independent Gazetteer read:

Thursday, last, expired, after a lingering illness, Mr. Haym Salomon, an eminent broker of this city, was a native of Poland, and of the Hebrew nation. He was remarkable for his skill and integrity in his profession, and for his generous and humane deportment. His remains were yesterday deposited in the burial ground of the synagogue of this city.

No mention was made of his contribution to the war effort nor has his family ever been compensated by the government.

Jews and Gentiles Labor Together

Throughout redemptive history, our God has woven His story with both Jew and Gentile threads. Rahab hid the Israelites spies and eventually married a Hebrew prince. Ruth the Moabitess helped Naomi make Aliyah to Bethlehem and was grafted into Jesus’ family tree. King Hiram of Tyre gave of his bounty for Solomon’s Temple, and Kings Cyrus and Darius passed laws and provided abundantly to return the Jewish nation from captivity.

Our own nation has a God-ordained destiny. And here, at our birth we have a Jewish man giving all for a nation that would represent religious freedom to the world.

On various prayer journeys in Philadelphia, I have visited both the synagogue and Hyam’s Salomon’s grave marker. I have given thanks for him personally, and have thanked our Father for the Jewish people who He created and called as a light to the nations. They have brought us Yeshua and, in our nation, played key roles in our founding and growth.  In this day of rampant and brazen antisemitism let us pause to give thanks for one Jewish man’s life and his contribution to our national freedom.

When someone dies, the Jewish people say, “May his memory be a blessing.” We now say, “Haym Salomon, your memory and contributions are a blessing! We thank God for you!”

Father, may we never overlook any who gave blood and treasure to allow our nation to be born and thrive. For his descendants we ask for salvation, which comes from the Jews, to be their portion. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Lori Meed is a leader on IFA’s Headline Prayer Live and an IFA contributing writer. In 2004, God moved her family from Canada to the U.S., imparting to them His heart for this country and for revival. Having walked out her own journey of freedom after being radically born again in 1992, Lori has a heart to see others set free to walk fully in their destiny. She is also passionate about teaching on aliyah (“going up,” the return of the Jews to the land of Israel), the feasts of the Lord, and the rich connections of the gentile churches to Israel. Photo Credit: Farragutful – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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