I enjoyed the fascinating article “The Spirit of ’76,” by David Hackett Fischer, which appeared in the February/March 2004 issue of American Heritage . In fact it made me feel even prouder to be an American.
But although the essay deals primarily with the military aspects of the Revolutionary War, I wish to point out an aspect that should be part of any detailed discussion of the American Revolution.
Mr. Fischer notes: “Indispensable help was given by Robert Morris and his associates in Philadelphia, who found the financial resources that the army urgently needed.” None of this help might have been possible without the aid of a single financier who supported the patriotic cause on the outbreak of the American Revolution.
The British in New York City arrested Haym Salomon in 1778 for his revolutionary activities. After suffering in prison (his time there led to his early death), he escaped and went to Philadelphia, where he established a highly successful brokerage office. Using his profits, he bought food for the starving Continental Army. Acting without salary, he negotiated many loans from France and Holland, endorsed notes, gave generously to soldiers, and equipped several military units with his own money. Robert Morris, who appointed Salomon as a broker to his office, recorded that Salomon lent more than $200,000 between 1781 and 1784.
In toto the government of the United States owed Haym Salomon more than $600,000. He was a hero and fervent patriot, whose love of liberty and business acumen made him a vital force for the War for Independence.