A History of Jews and the American Revolution

Posted by: Alison Silverman on Sunday, July 5, 2015 at 11:00:00 am

The Declaration of Independence was signed 239 years ago on July 4, 1776 by many men, all of whom were not Jewish. Though there are no Jewish people who signed the document, there remain a few who contributed greatly to the Revolutionary war and its victory to America’s independent who are definitely worth noting.  About 100 Jewish people participated in the Revolutionary war fighting against England.

Here are 5 of the many Jews whose bravery and patriotism helped Revolutionary War efforts!

1. Francis Salvador

  • Born in London in 1747, his family had traveled with 42 Jews to Savannah, Georgia with the original settlers in 1733.
  • In 1773, Salvador emigrated to South Carolina.
  • At the age of 27, Salvador was elected to the General Assembly of South Carolina.
  • He was the first Jew to hold high office in the English colonies and the first Jew to fight and die for the Revolutionary War.
  • On July 1, 1776, just like Paul Revere, Salvador was trying to warn others about a Native American Cherokee attack and was shot and killed while doing so.

2. Mordecai Sheftall mordecai-sheftall-image

  • Born December 2, 1735 in Savannah Georgia.
  • The highest ranking Jewish officer in the Revolutionary War.
  • He was a founding member of congregation Mickve Israel.
  • He worked as a merchant before taking part in the revolutionary war and also dabbled in real estate.
  • He was an Orthodox Jew.
  • In 1772, Mordecai donated land for Georgia’s first Jewish cemetery.
  • Served as a member and chairman of the Savannah Parochial Committee.
  • In 1777 he served as the deputy commissary to continental troops in South Carolina and Georgia.
  • In 1778 he was taken prisoner with his son to Antigua by the British, but was released in a prisoner exchange in 1780.

3. Reuben Etting reuben-etting-image

  • Born June 6, 1762 – Died June 3, 1848
  • The first captain of the Independent Blues, one of the many opposition “companies” in the war.
  • Appointed as the United States Marshal for Maryland by Thomas Jefferson.

4. Abigail Minis

  • Born August 11, 1701 – Died October 11, 1794.
  • Arrived in Savannah in 1733 as one of the original Jewish settlers.
  • known for supplying provisions for continental line, Georgia militia, and French forces.

5. Haym Salomon haym-salomon-image

  • Born in Lesno Poland in 1740 - Died January 6, 1785
  • Arrived in New York City during winter 1772.
  • Started a brokerage company.
  • Was a member of the “Sons of Liberty” and later a member of the Culper Spy ring.
  • On August 11, 1778, he was convicted of capital charges, related to spying, but bribed his way out of prison 



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