On this day in 1777, George Washington’s army was busy fighting the British in the Second Battle of Trenton, New Jersey. While Washington fought, another great patriot was hard at work behind the scenes, aiding the American cause. You may never have heard of Haym Salomon, but he was one of the heroes of the American Revolution. In fact, if not for Patriots like Salomon, there would never have been a United States.
Born in Poland, Salomon immigrated to New York City in 1772 and soon became a successful merchant and banker. He joined the Sons of Liberty, a Patriot group, and when war broke out, he helped supply American troops. The British arrested him in 1776 and flung him into prison. After a while they released him, and he went straight back to aiding the Patriots. The British arrested Salomon again in 1778. This time they decided to be rid of him. They sentenced him to be hanged as a rebel, but he escaped and fled to Philadelphia.
Once again Salomon went into business as a banker, and he continued to devote his talents and wealth to the Patriot cause. American leaders frequently turned to him for help in raising funds to support the war. Salomon risked his assets by loaning the government money for little or no commission. He helped pay the salaries of army officers, tapped his own funds to supply ragged troops, and worked tirelessly to secure French aid for the Revolution.
After the war the young nation struggled to get on its feet. When the republic needed money, Salomon helped save the United States from financial collapse.
The years following the Revolution took a toll on Haym Salomon’s business. At the end of his life, his wealth was gone. In fact, he died impoverished. He had poured much of his fortune into the service of his country.