1975 10¢ Haym Salomon
Contributors to the Cause Series
Issue Date: March 25, 1975
City: Chicago, Illinois
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
The third stamp in the Contributors to the Cause Series commemorates Haym Salomon. This Polish-born merchant and banker raised much of the money that financed the Revolution. Twice imprisoned by the British, he continued to donate freely to the American cause, only to die penniless after the war.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S. Postal Service issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
Birth Of Haym Salomon
Haym Salomon was born on April 7, 1740, in Leszno, Poland.
As a young man, Salomon traveled throughout Western Europe and learned a great deal about finance and other languages. He returned home to Poland in 1770, and spent some time in England before immigrating to the US in 1775.
In New York City, Salomon found great success as a financial broker for merchants conducting overseas trade. Salomon sympathized with the Patriot cause in America and joined the Sons of Liberty. However, in September 1776, he was arrested by the British for being a spy. They pardoned him, but forced him to stay on a British ship for 18 months interpreting for the Hessian (German) soldiers. Salomon complied, but also used this time to free some of the American prisoners on the ship and encouraged the Hessians to abandon their support of the British. Salomon was released but arrested again in 1778. He was sentenced to death, but was able to escape by bribing a jailer.
Salomon then made his way to Philadelphia and resumed his work as a broker. He soon became the agent to the French consul and the paymaster for the French forces in America. And in 1781, Salomon started working with Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance.
Later that year, George Washington had trapped British Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown. However, he was unable to launch the battle because he and Congress didn’t have enough money to provide food, uniforms, or supplies for the troops to carry it out. Washington estimated he’d need $20,000 to cover these costs. When Morris told him they didn’t have the funds, Washington replied, “Send for Haym Salomon.” And Salomon quickly raised the $20,000 by selling bills of exchange, enabling Washington to lead the successful Battle of Yorktown.
Salomon was able to keep the war effort funded largely by selling bills of exchange to American merchants for their dealings with France and the Dutch Republic. He also offered low-interest loans to members of the Continental Congress and never asked that they be repaid. Salomon also gave money to people that he considered were unsung heroes of the war. One of these people was Bodo Otto, a surgeon for the Continental Army. Otto had established a hospital at Valley Forge and used his own money to buy medical supplies. After the war, Salomon gave him the money to reestablish his medical practice in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Between 1781 and 1784, Salomon contributed a great deal of his own fortune to the American cause. He also conducted extensive fundraising – providing more than $650,000 (more than $338 million in today’s dollars) to the American war effort.
After the war, Salomon continued to contribute his own money to the fledgling nation. He also fought to overturn laws that restricted Jewish citizens like himself. Most notably, he successfully pushed for the Pennsylvania Council of Censors to remove the religious oath that was required for taking office. Salomon died on January 8, 1785 from tuberculosis that he had contracted in prison. He died in poverty, having given all of his fortune to the American war effort.
Several places are named in his honor as well as a World War II Liberty Ship. He is also honored in the Heald Square Monument in Chicago as part of the sculpture Triumvirate of the Patriots. The triumvirate consists of the figures of Robert Morris, Haym Salmon, and George Washington.