Francis Salvador owned a large plantation South Carolina’s Ninety-Six District. Salvador soon emerged as a Whig leader. In a time when only men who had accepted Christian oaths were allowed to serve in military and political office, Salvador was the first unconverted Jew to serve in an American legislature. He was elected to the provincial congresses and served in the first general assembly of the new state of South Carolina. By 1776, he had become a member of a number of important committees and thus a notable political figure.
When the British army and navy invade the Carolinas in 1776, and their allies, the Indians and Tories, moved in to massacre the settlers and farmers on the western frontier, Salvador rode twenty-eight miles to rouse the militia. On the night of July 31, the expedition he led was ambushed and Salvador was shot and scalped by the Indians. He may have been the first Jew to die in defense of the new United States.
Today in Charleston’s City Hall Park there is a plaque dedicated to his memory:
Born an aristocrat he became a democrat,
An Englishman he cast his lot with America;
True to his ancient faith he gave his life
For new hopes of human liberty and understanding.
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