Salvador was quickly caught up in the furor for independence. At the age of 27, he was elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1774, even though it was illegal for a Jew to vote, much less serve in elected office.
In 1775 he served in the second South Carolina Provincial Congress. He argued that South Carolina's delegates to the Continental Congress should vote in favor of independence from England. He also fought to ensure payment to the troops in the new Continental Army.
The British had stirred up their Native American allies to fight on the frontier in South Carolina, creating a diversion to keep the militias away from the British troops at the coast. On July 1, 1776, Salvadore earned his nickname Southern Paul Revere when he rode 28 miles to warn of a Cherokee attack on the back country settlements.
On July 31, 1775, Salvador's militia group captured a pair of loyalists who then led the militia into an ambush laid by Cherokee and loyalists. He was shot and scalped, but survived long enough to talk to Colonel William Thompson. Thompson later wrote, "When I came up to him, after dislodging the enemy, and speaking to him, he asked, whether I had beat 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."
Francis Salvador, at the age of 29, was the first Jewish soldier killed in the Revolutionary War.