Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Haym Salomon, American Patriot

My cousin regularly sends me messages with religious undertones. A recent message had to do with the number 13, a lucky or unlucky number. It focused on the backside of the US dollar bill and the number of items in which there are 13, such as, 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 arrows, etc.
She forwarded a message from Dr. Martin Weissman (whom I believe to be Martin J. Weissman, a urologist in Orange, California) that claimed that the 13 stars in the seal on the right side of the dollar were configured in the shape of the Star of David. The message stated that this was ordered by George Washington at the request of Hayim Solomon (sic), a wealthy Philadelphia Jew.
The message from Dr. Martin Weissman included a link that I assumed had something to do with the source of his information. When I clicked on the link the site was all about Australian sheep dogs. There are lots of pictures of cute dogs but nothing about Haym Salomon and the one dollar bill. In spite of this small diversion, I was still intrigued about Haym Salomon.
This man actually existed. I found several articles about him and his financing of the American Revolution. His son filed a claim with the US Senate to recover $353,729.43 that his father financed plus interest. Bill S. 263 was introduced in 1860. However, the family was never successful at recovering any money.
Index to the Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States for the First Session of the Thirty-sixth Congress) includes a 10-page report of March 9, 1860 by Mr. Durkee to accompany the bill under Rep. Com. No. 127 Part of the evidence (on page 7) includes a letter, dated September 21, 1848 from J. Hockley, Cashier of the Bank of North America, that showed payments to Robert Morris from Mr. Salomon's account of at least $76,000. The report shows that he financed another $100,000 payable to representatives of the French crown. My sleuthing revealed that he died in January of 1785 leaving his wife and 4 young children financially ruined.
Haym Salomon was born in 1740 in what is now Poland. He came to the British colonies in North America shortly before the beginning of the revolution.
I was suspicious of the part of Dr. Weissman's message that claims George Washington ordered 13 stars be arranged in the form of the Star of David because Haym Salomon asked that he wanted something for his people. I just didn't believe it. I found an image of the first US Great Seal approved by Congress of the Confederation in 1782. The star pattern seems to be random. A pamphlet about the Great Seal of the United States printed by the US Department of State indicates these stars are a constellation surrounded by clouds.
This seal was designed by Charles Thompson. Robert Scot is believed to be the engraver who created the brass die. The constellation and the clouds in the final seal take the shape that we all recognize. As the die became too worn, another was created. Over time several dies were made and in several instances the engraver took the liberty to modify the seal. In 1841, the eagle held six arrows and not 13 as in the original. In 1885, the positions of the arrows and olive branch were switched.
I doubt that Haym Salomon and George Washington had a conversation about the Great Seal. The seal was under the province of the Second Continental Congress in 1776. George Washington was not a member of that congress nor was he a member of the Congress of the Confederation that ultimately approved the design of the seal in 1782. George Washington was busy fighting a war.
The Great Seal has two sides, obverse with the eagle and reverse with the pyramid and eye of Providence. The first time that the two sides appeared on the one dollar bill was in 1935. There were some paper currencies printed during the Revolutionary War. I found one such paper of1776 in which the front side included "Mind your business" and the back side stated "We are one."
Coins of gold and silver were the accepted currency of the period following the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The next time that paper money appeared was in 1861 during the Civil War. Since that time, we have accepted paper. The words "In God we trust" did not appear until 1955-56.

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