7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jews and the American Revolutionary War

        When I was considering what my post would be for this month, I noticed that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
        It made we wonder, with the idea of America being a “melting pot” and a refuge for people suffering religious persecution, what part did Jews play in the American colonies and especially during the Revolutionary War?
        Despite America’s tolerance and acceptance of religious minorities as compared to the rest of the world, there existed a lack of political equality for Jews in America. Acceptance, a little as there was, presented a challenge to the Jewish community: balancing a desire to integrate into mainstream culture with a desire to maintain a unique heritage. Colonial Jewish families typically downplayed their Jewish identity with their neighbors while maintaining their ancient customs and traditions among themselves. This was symbolized by Touro synagogue, the oldest synagogue still standing in America, built in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1763.
Touro Synagogue
        Jewish feelings about the American Revolution matched that of the general population. Accordingly, the Continental Congress sent a request to pray for a peaceful resolution to the conflict with the Crown on July 20, 1775, to churches and synagogues.
        As for participation in the conflict, there were Jewish merchant blockade runners, Jewish soldiers in the Continental Army, and Jewish officers. Two of the most famous Jewish Patriots were Jonas Philips and Haym Solomon.
        Philips, a blockade runner, wrote his supply list in Yiddish --
גוּט טַק אִים בְּטַגְֿא שְ וַיר דִּיש מַחֲזוֹר אִין בֵּיתֿ הַכְּנֶסֶתֿ טְרַגְֿא - a sample of Yiddish that means, May a good day come to him who carries this prayer book into the synagogue. But his plan didn’t work, for when the British boarded the ship, they thought the Yiddish was a code, seized the ship, and sent the note to England to be decoded. In 1793, there were no “weekends,” and court was held on Saturdays. Records show that Philips was fined for refusing to testify in a Philadelphia court on the Jewish Sabbath because of his religious obligations.

Haym Solomon
Solomon, a Jewish immigrant, joined the New York branch of the Sons of Liberty. He was captured by the British and sentenced to death, but escaped and fled to Philadelphia. While there, he worked with the Continental Congress and helped raise most of the money needed to finance the American Revolution.
        In 1774, Francis Salvador, a Jew, was elected to the General Assembly of South Carolina. He also served in the South Carolina‘s revolutionary Provisional Congress. At age 29, Salvador was killed during a fight with the British and their Cherokee allies near the Keowee River in South Carolina. During the battle, he was shot and fell into the bushes, but was discovered and scalped by the Cherokee that night.
        In an August 4th, 1776 letter from Colonel William Thompson to William Henry Drayton, Colonel Thompson wrote about Salvador’s death:
        Here, Mr. Salvador received three wounds; and, fell by my side. . . . I desired [Lieutenant Farar], to take care of Mr. Salvador; but, before he could find him in the dark, the enemy unfortunately got his scalp: which, was the only one taken. . . . He died, about half after two o'clock in the morning: forty-five minutes after he received the wounds, sensible to the last. 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."
        Unfortunately, like most states after the war, South Carolina placed religious qualifications on who could hold office that barred other Jews from being elected.
        Despite this lack of equality, Jews in colonial and post-revolutionary America were usually accepted as members of the larger society. Jews often adopted the customs and fashions of their neighbors, went into business with them, and made friendships with those outside their religious community.

Susan F. Craft is the author of The Chamomile, a SIBA award-winning Revolutionary War novel. She is represented by Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.


  1. Susan, I enjoyed your post. I have never heard about Jews in the American Revolutionary War before. Thank you for sharing
    blessings, Tina

    1. Hi, Tina. So glad you enjoyed the post. I learn something new about the Rev War almost every week. :-)

  2. One of the most prominent members of colonial Michilimackinac was a Jewish gentleman, a businessman. He survived Pontiac's Rebellion. There is a plaque dedicated to him at the historic site in Mackinac City, Michigan. This was after the French Indian War and before the American Revolution.

    1. Thank you, Carrie. I truly enjoy hearing and sharing historical tidbits like this.

  3. That was an interesting and informative post, Susan.

    1. Thank you, Janet. I love that there are so many resources available to look into things that pique my curiosity.

  4. Thank you so much for the history story It was neat to know
    Please have a terrific day God bless you

    1. Chris, I'm so happy you found my post interesting. I love doing research and I love even more sharing it with others who enjoy history. Blessings.


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