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Francis Salvador (1747 – August 1, 1776) was the first American Jew to be killed in the American Revolution, fighting on the South Carolina frontier. Salvador was born in London, where his uncle, Joseph Salvador, was a prominent businessman, and leader of the local Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.
Emigration to America
Francis Salvador, along with the DaCosta family of London, hoped to settle poor Jews and their own family members in the New World. They sent 42 Jews to Savannah with the original settlers in 1733. When Spain attacked Georgia in 1740, most of the Jewish families fled to Charleston, fearing the Spanish Inquisition. Jews from London began arriving in Charleston in the 1730s, and were later joined by Jews from Germany, the Netherlands and the West Indies. Francis Salvador was the only Jew to settle on the frontier. The Salvador and DaCosta families in London bought 200,000 acres (810 km2) in the new district of Ninety-Six (known as "Jews Land"), and began to populate it. The Salvador family was financially ruined by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and subsequent failure of the East India Company, retaining their land in South Carolina and little other wealth. Francis Salvador bought 7,000 acres (28 km2), and moved there in 1773, intending to send for his wife, Sarah, and their children as soon as he was able.
The history of the Jews in the United States (United States of America), has been part of the American national fabric since colonial times.
Until the 1830s the Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina was the most numerous in North America. With the large scale immigration of Jews from diaspora communities in Germany in the 19th century, they established themselves in many small towns and cities. A much larger immigration of Eastern Ashkenazi Jews, 1880–1914, brought a large, poor, traditional element to New York City. Refugees arrived from diaspora communities in Europe after World War II, and many arrived from the Soviet Union after 1970.
In the 1940s Jews comprised 3.7% of the national population. Today the population is about 5 million—under 2% of the national total—and shrinking because of small family sizes and intermarriage. The largest population centers are the metropolitan areas of New York (2.1 million in 2000), Los Angeles (668,000), Miami (331,000), Philadelphia (285,000), Chicago (265,000) and Boston (254,000). Francis Salvador was an observant-Jew.
Representative to Congress
After arriving in Charleston in December 1773, Salvador at once entered into the American cause, and became close friends with the leaders of the Revolution in the South, including Pinckney, Rutledge, Drayton, Laurens, and Hammond. Salvador was elected to South Carolina's General Assembly within a year of arriving, the first Jew to hold that office in any of the English colonies in North America. He was just 27, and would hold the post until his death.
Although Jews legally could neither hold office nor vote, no one objected when Salvador was elected, along with his friend and fellow planter Richard Rapley, as the two frontier representatives from Ninety-Six to the provincial congress. He was chosen for important committee assignments: drawing up the declaration of the purpose of the congress to the people; obtaining ammunition; assessing the safety of the frontier, and working on the state constitution.
In 1774, Salvador was chosen to be a delegate to the revolutionary Provincial Congress of the colony, which first met in Charleston in January 1775. The group framed a bill of rights and composed an address to South Carolina's royal governor setting forth the colonists' complaints against the Crown. Salvador was appointed to a commission that tried to convince the Tories in the northern and western parts of the colony to join the American cause.
The second Provincial Congress assembled in November 1775. Salvador was one of the champions for Independence. He urged his fellow delegates to instruct the colony's delegation to the Continental Congress to cast their vote for independence. Salvador chaired the ways and means committee of this second Congress, at the same time serving on a select committee authorized to issue bills of credit as payment to members of the militia. He was also made part of a commission established to preserve the peace in the interior parts of South Carolina.
Fighting in the American Revolution
Early in 1776 the British had induced the Indians to attack the South Carolina frontier to create a diversion in favor of British operations on the sea-coast; and on July 1, 1776, the Indians began attacking frontier families. Salvador mounted his horse and galloped to Major Williamson, 28 miles (45 km) away, and gave the alarm. Salvador took part in the engagements that followed. On July 31, Major Andrew Williamson captured two white loyalists, who led his 330 men into an ambush prepared by their fellow Tories and Seneca Indians on the Keowee River. Salvador was shot. Falling among the bushes, he was discovered by the Indians and scalped. He died from his wounds, age 29.
Concerning his death, Colonel William Thomson wrote to William Henry Drayton, in a letter dated "Camp, two miles below Keowee, August 4th, 1775", as follows: "Here, Mr. Salvador received three wounds; and, fell by my side. . . . I desired [Lieutenant Farar], to take care of Mr. Salvador; but, before he could find him in the dark, the enemy unfortunately got his scalp: which, was the only one taken. . . . He died, about half after two o'clock in the morning: forty-five minutes after he received the wounds, sensible to the last. When I came up to him, after dislodging the enemy, and speaking to him, he asked, whether I had beat the enemy? I told him yes. He said he was glad of it, and shook me by the hand – and bade me farewell – and said, he would die in a few minutes."
Salvador probably never learned that the delegation in Philadelphia had heeded his advice and voted for independence.
In 1950, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charleston's Jewish congregation, the City of Charleston erected a memorial to Francis Salvador, the first Jew to die for the American Revolution.
Born an aristocrat, he became a democrat;
An Englishman, he cast his lot with the Americans;For new hopes of human liberty and understanding.
True to his ancient faith, he gave his life;
- "A "portion of the People"", Nell Porter Brown, Harvard Magazine, January–February 2003.
- Pencak, Jews and Gentiles in Early America 1654–1800, p. 124.
- Gerber, The Jews of Spain.
- Cyrus Adler, L. Hühner. "Salvador, Francis". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- Pencak, Jews and Gentiles in Early America 1654–1800.
- Pencak, Jews and Gentiles in Early America 1654–1800, p. 125.
- Gibbes, Documentary history of the American revolution (Vol. 1) pp. 125–127.
- Levitan, The Firsts of American Jewish History 1492–1951.
- Pencak, Jews and Gentiles in Early America 1654–1800, pp. 123–125.
- Gerber, Jane S. (1992). The Jews of Spain : a history of the Sephardic experience. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-02-911573-6.
- Gibbes, Robert Wilson (1853–1857). Documentary history of the American revolution. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
- Levitan, Tina (1952). The Firsts of American Jewish History 1492–1951. Brooklyn: The Charuth Press.
- Pencak, William (2005). Jews and Gentiles in Early America 1654–1800. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11454-2.