Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Will the Real American Please Stand Up?

If George Washington had had a personal banker his name would have been Haym Salomen.

It became a regular practice -- the Revolutionary leaders' diaries testify to this- "that when money was needed for the Revolutionary War, you went to Haym Salomon."

But Salomen was more than a banker. He was a gambler and he gambled his life and his fortune on a new country based on a new idea.

Sympathizing with the patriot cause, Solomon joined the New York branch of The Sons of Liberty. In September 1776, he was arrested as a spy but the British pardoned him in order to use his abilities as an interpreter for their Hession Mercenaries.

Solomon used his position to help prisoners of the British escape and encouraged the Hessians to desert the war effort. In 1778 Solomon was arrested again and sentenced to death, but he managed to escape, whereupon he made his way with his family to the rebel capital in Philadelphia.

Tortured and imprisoned by the British more than once., Haym Salomon negotiated many loans for the Colonies from France and Holland, but never took a commission for himself.

According to legend, General Washington's appeal for funds with which to maintain his ragged army at Valley Forge came to Salomon on Yom Kippur. Salomen reportedly turned to the congregation and suspended services to secure pledges for what Washington asked of him.

Washington, in August of 1781, struggling constantly with Congress and the individual states to raise money for his army, saw a chance that should not be missed. Washington with his main army and the Count de Rochambeau with his French army could take Yorktown if they could just get there.
(Ever heard of Yorktown? It was that little battle that won the war and created the new United States of America.)

Washington needed $20,000 for food and forage and wagons and clothing but Congress turned him down.

Congress had no powers of direct taxation and had to rely on requests for money directed to the states, which habitually refused.

When told there were no funds and no credit available, Washington gave a simple but eloquent order: "Send for Haym Salomon".

Haym again came through, and the $20,000 was raised. Washington conducted the Yorktown campaign, which proved to be the final battle of the Revolution.

The Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3rd, 1783, and ended the Revolutionary War, but the financial problems of the newly established Country were not over. It was Haym Salomon who managed, time-after-time, to raise the money to bailout the debt ridden government.

In 1893, a bill was presented before the 52nd United States Congress ordering a gold medal be struck in recognition of Solomon's contributions to the United States.

The Congressional Record of March 25, 1975 reads:
When Robert Morris was appointed Superintendent of Finance, he turned to Solomon for help in raising the money needed to carry on the (Rev) war and later to save the emerging nation from financial collapse. Solomon advanced direct loans to the government and also gave generously of his own resources to pay the salaries of government officials and army officers. With frequent entries of "I sent for Haym Solomon", Morris' diary for the years 1781–84 records some 75 transactions between the two men.

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