Grateful American® Foundation

Who was the first Jewish person elected to office in America?

January 11th

brody3January 11, 1775 — Francis Salvador (1747-1776) became the first Jew elected to public office in the colonies when today to be part of the Provincial Congress (one of several extra-legal legislative bodies established in some of the Thirteen Colonies early in the Revolution).

A young English plantation owner in South Carolina, Salvador came from the Sephardic Jewish community of London. His uncle, Joseph Salvador, was a prominent businessman, and the only Jewish director of the British East India Company.

Unfortunately, Salvador was also the first Jew killed in the American Revolutionary War, fighting with the militia on the South Carolina frontier against Loyalists and their Cherokeeallies.

On July 1, 1776, the Indians began attacking frontier families in Ninety Six District. Salvador rode from his lands to the White Hall plantation of Major Andrew Williamson, 28 miles (45 km) away, to raise the alarm. Salvador took part in the engagements that followed. On July 31, Major Williamson captured two white Loyalists. They led his 330-men militia into an ambush by their fellow Tories and Cherokee allies at the Keowee River.

Salvador was shot and fell into the bushes, but was discovered and scalped by the Cherokee that night. He died from his wounds at age 29.

Words of Wisdom

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.

— A letter by Colonel William Thomson to William Henry Drayton, concerning his death of Francis Salvador, the first Jew elected to public office in the colonies. A patriot journal, called The Rememerance, wrote of Salvador: "he was universally loved and esteemed."

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