Francis Salvadore – Jewish-American Pioneer

Today in History, January 11, 1775:

Francis Salvador becomes the first American of Jewish descent to hold public office in America, being named to the South Carolina Provincial Congress.

Salvador had immigrated from London and almost immediately took up his adopted nation’s cause for independence.

It was against the law for Jews to hold public office in the colonies, but his neighbors didn’t care and elected him anyway.

In the months to come the English used Indian and Loyalist allies to create havoc in the back country. On July 1st Salvador rode 28 miles to warn others of impending attacks.

One month later he was leading a militia group when it was ambushed.

He was shot during the attack and scalped by the Indians, making him also the first Jewish-American killed during the War for Independence.



Today in History, November 9: 1938 – Kristallnacht. In order to direct Germany in the direction they wanted, the Nazis believed that they had to give the people someone to blame, someone to hate, for their misfortunes. The Jewish people of Germany and Austria were the perfect targets.

The Nazis used the murder of a low level diplomat in Paris as an excuse. Hitler ordered storm troopers to act as if they were citizens angered by the murder and to vandalize and destroy Jewish businesses, thus “The Night of Broken Glass” from the broken windows. Many Jews were killed and 30,000 men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. They were released if they promised to leave Germany….100,000+ did so. Kristallnacht would eventually lead to the Holocaust, during which 6,000,000+ Jews were killed in the Nazis attempt at genocide.

Bad Choices, Bigger Picture

Today in History, December 17: 1862 – Even our heroes make misguided decisions. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order 11, expelling all Jewish people from the area he commands, Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. During the war, trade in the South’s staple, Cotton, was severely restrained, which of course led to a black market trade. It became a real problem for the Union Army in the west. Grant felt it was being driven by Jewish profiteers and ordered them expelled. After complaints from the Jewish community and Congress, President Lincoln quickly rescinded the order. Grant would go on to gain Lincoln’s…and the nation’s trust. But this was not his finest moment.