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"How it will end, the blessed God knows": a reading of Jewish correspondence during the revolutionary war era.

"Keep us all from so much danger": a revolution in epistolary modes

Philadelphia merchant Jonas Phillips' July 28, 1776 letter to his Amsterdam cousin Gumpel Samson bore witness to a heightened mood of political momentousness. (1) Phillips had accompanied his letter with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, but the forthrightness of its tone was an even more powerful conveyance of enthusiasm. "The Americans have an Army of 100,000 soldiers and the English only 25,000 and some ships," (2) he boasted, before going on to tell Samson, "[The] Americans [had] made themselves [free] like the states of Holland." Despite his admitted inability to predict an outcome--"How it will end the blessed God knows," he said--Phillips sounded an optimistic, even breathless tone as he exclaimed, "[The] war does me no damage, thank God!" (3) Through much of the eighteenth century, letters by North American Jews had displayed an attitude of restraint. As Jacob Rader Marcus put it, colonial era Jews "kept their mouths shut and accepted a secondary status because they were convinced that there was nothing they could do to improve it." (4) This habit of reticence on public matters had been nowhere more apparent than in Abigaill Levy Franks' letters to her son Naphtali (Edith Gelles refers to their powerful display of "rationality, acceptance, and adaptability" (5)), and in the correspondence of several other aspiring members of the merchant class. (6) The outbreak of the Revolutionary War, by contrast, saw the rise of an epistolary attribute that had been lacking among Jews until that point: unbridled passion.

Phillips' letter affords insight into the emotional fervor that infused Jewish writing about the American Revolution. In the face of what Jonathan D. Sarna refers to as a thematic background of "exile, loss, destruction, and redemption," (7) Revolutionary War-era Jews created an effusive family and business correspondence that described the depredations of war, enumerated the sufferings it brought, and projected the hope for a more tranquil future. While this body of epistolary literature was not always a testament to their devotion to the patriotic cause (or, for that matter, that of the Loyalists), its rhetorical force was indicative nonetheless of its authors' deepening conviction that they had found a home in North America. Regardless of their individual or familial circumstances, Jewish correspondents during the Revolutionary War knew that they could ill afford to remain indifferent to the conflict's progress. Like the highly individualized portraits for which some of them sat in the war's aftermath, the letters that Jewish merchants wrote during the conflict reflected a profound change, if not in their actual social status, then in their view of themselves as "part of, rather than apart from" early American society. (8) As Richard Brilliant writes with reference to those portraits, the experience of the Revolution allowed Jews to represent themselves in "more personal, more specific" ways. (9) This "growing confidence in their ... sense of belonging" also inspired Jewish letter writers on both sides of the conflict to be more emotionally assertive than they had been during the previous decades of the century. Then, life in the colonies had felt like a less secure prospect to many of them, and they had gone out of their way to withhold all political pronouncements. That "nearly all [of them] chose one side or another" during the war, as Eli Faber suggests, was an indication of the firmness of their commitment and their newfound willingness to take "public political stands for the first time." (10)

Deliberate attention to Revolutionary War Jewish correspondence allows us to see how formal shifts in epistolary communication can reflect the ways in which subjects experience and integrate social and political changes. Building upon the considerable efforts that scholars have already made to explore the contents of this correspondence in pursuit of a deeper insight into how Jews negotiated the fraught and bracing events of the Revolutionary War, this essay concentrates its attention primarily on the formal qualities of that correspondence in order to address a similar line of inquiry." Letters are by no means the sole documentary index of the Jewish experience of the Revolutionary War, but they do constitute the most sustained form of Jewish self-expression available to us from that period, and for this reason, their formal qualities merit special attention. Since the war has been broadly understood as having had a socially and politically transformative effect upon the lives of North American Jews, scholarly interest in the language, tone, topical interests and actual opinions of letter writers is warranted. The abrupt tonal shift found in these Revolutionary War letters substantiates Michael Kramer's recent contention that as early as the eighteenth century, Jews were engaging in "innovative modes of Jewish-American expression." (11)

The habit that North American Jews acquired of "portraying] their [wartime] experience more in personal and religious terms" and of noting "the divine hand working behind the scenes on the field of battle" signaled their newfound willingness to dispense with their habit of extreme caution in written expression, especially when the military conflict affected the communities in which they lived or had taken temporary shelter. (12) Bluntness in epistolary communication reflected the cathartic experience of war itself, and, for Jews, it marked an end to what Howard Rock refers to as "long-standing ... preference for restraint." (14) Accordingly, it was also indicative of a nascent and unprecedented Jewish politicization. Expressing his gratitude that "the Lord for his mercy's sake" had caused New London harbor to be "blocked up" by ice, thereby preventing the redcoats from marching on Connecticut, Isaac Seixas wrote to Aaron Lopez in March 1779 of his hope that God would "[keep] us all from so much danger." (15) His identification of God as the agent of the colonies' well-being was a striking acknowledgement that the fate of the Jews and the fate of the Americans were one and the same.

Like the members of the gentile majority, Jews were profoundly divided in their allegiances, often in accordance with their geographical provenances. A significant number of Newport Jews, for instance, were Loyalist in their sympathies, while Southern Jews were largely proponents of the rebellion. The occupation of New York by the British from 1776 to the war's conclusion precipitated a split in that community, as those who sympathized with the Americans fled for Philadelphia and Connecticut, among other places, and those with Tory leanings remained in the city. Notwithstanding their respective political affiliations, however, Jews on all sides of the conflict understood that they were profoundly involved in it. By the time the war broke out in 1775, the approximately 2,500 Jews who lived in the North American colonies had come to look upon that place as a "land of opportunity" regardless of the variations (and frequent shifts) that occurred in their political persuasions and partisan affiliations. If nothing else, "though they were not all necessarily willing to identify themselves as Whigs or Continentals," the Jews of British North America were "at one in their love of the land" and now certain that "they were not going back to Europe." (16)

The passionate, often anxious tone of their wartime letters manifested their sense of connection to their new home, as well as their deep concern that it could be torn apart by the conflict being fought over its political future. Lacking any representation in the Continental Congress or at the very highest echelons of the colonies' mercantile elite, Jews could hardly be considered to have been major players in the events of the 1760s through the 1780s, but neither were they disinterested parties in those occurrences. "Literate, propertied, and often well connected," as Richard Morris writes, Jews throughout the colonies "had a stake in the establishment without being a part thereof." (17) Jews were singular and fairly immediate beneficiaries of the revolutionary era's rising spirit of individualism, and they were also the victims of the war's unpredictable course. Lor Jews, "the Revolution's impact ... was anything but muted," writes Jonathan D. Sarna, and the vivid emotionality that found its way into their expressions about the war constituted a powerful demonstration of that fact. Their acquisition of an uninhibited tone in their written correspondence was indicative of the growing resemblance between them and their gentile neighbors, for many of whom the war had also necessitated and inspired a passage from discursive "sensibility" to expressions of "mass rage and grief." (18)

The increasing willingness of Jews to write openly about public affairs was a measure of their growing sense of themselves as participants in, as opposed to mere observers of, the historical transformations of the age. As Jonathan D. Sarna points out, Jews, like other would-be Americans, "vacillated and pledged allegiance to both sides in the dispute for as long as they could," but even the most cautious among them eventually understood that they had no choice but to take sides in a conflict that encompassed their interests and, often enough, took place on their doorsteps. (19) The war itself was not an abstract condition to be withstood from a distance and addressed with bemused or cautious detachment, as Frances Sheftall's letter to her husband in the aftermath of the British siege of Charleston in July of 1780 demonstrated with sobering candor:
   We have had no less than six Jew children buried since the sige
   [siege], and poor Mrs. Cardosar, Miss Leah Toras, that was, died
   last week with the small pox. Mr. DeLyon has lost his two grand
   children. Mrs. Mordecai has lost her child. Mrs. Myers Moses had
   the misfortune to have her youngest daughter, Miss Rachel, killed
   with the nurse by a cannon ball during the sige. (20)


The Revolutionary War imposed palpable suffering on people of all political persuasions and religious backgrounds, and merely recounting the facts as they occurred necessitated the evocation of pathos. Sheftall's stark enumeration of the details required no embellishment in order to sound its plaintive and passionate note.

"Agreeable and approved": the practice of emotional restraint in mid-century Jewish correspondence

In the decades that preceded the crisis in British-American relations, by contrast, a proportionally smaller population of North American-based Jews had produced a written correspondence that generally eschewed any emotional engagement in political subjects, even in the face of highly uncertain circumstances. Early- and mid-eighteenth century Jews kept up a lively epistolary exchange with one another as well as with their gentile neighbors, primarily for business purposes, though they were no less apt to converse on a range of other matters, including family life and religious and communal affairs. The "vivid community life" (21) that colonial-era Jewish settlers of the Atlantic Seaboard created was maintained by the members of a dozen or so intermarried families whose close connections to one another--and their relationships ran the gamut from alliance to rivalry--necessitated and inspired frequent communication. The small Jewish communities of British North America, which by the early 1760s had begun to coalesce in New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah were grateful for the provisional acceptance they received from the Protestant majorities they encountered in those places. Outside of the first two cities, in which synagogues had been established in 1730 and 1763, respectively, Jewish worship was restricted to private homes, (22) and while several Jewish merchants developed strong business and personal ties to gentiles throughout the Atlantic world, Jews can hardly be said to have been individually--much less communally--assertive during this period. Jewish letter-writers had plenty to be grateful for under the circumstances. Early- and mid-eighteenth-century Jews may have "realized on the whole that they lived in the freest country in the world," (23) but they usually withheld commentary on this point. Conscious of their status "as a tiny minority of the population," Edith Gelles points out, "they did not wish to draw attention to themselves in partisan conflicts." (24) Even in their private correspondence, pre-Revolutionary War Jews avoided injecting passion into their written expressions about political matters in the colonies.

Instead, mid-eighteenth-century Jewish letter writers were remarkable for their frequent recourse to what one scholar refers to as the "circumspection, politeness, and deference" (25) that was also characteristic of a broader Anglo-American cosmopolitanism. In their self-conscious attempt to avoid jeopardizing their providential achievement of an unprecedented acceptance at the hands of their Protestant hosts, Jewish letter writers of this period expressed themselves in a language of care and restraint that was calculated to uphold communal boundaries and standards of Jewish behavior. As historian David Shields argues, such displays of cosmopolitanism "contributed to the attenuation of ethnicity as a ground of self-understanding." (26) Abigaill Levy Franks' letters to her son Naphtali, written between 1733 and 1748, after the latter left New York for London, present the most obvious case in point. Time after time, the eager mother admonished her son to maintain his composure in his own public communications. In one letter, she advised him to "be Exceeding Circumspect In (his] Conduct [and] Affable to All men but not Credlous," (27) while another letter assured him that "nothing in Life can be more gratefull then to hear that you Discharge your duty to y[ou]r Relations and your Self in so Agreeable And Approved of a manner." (28) While Abigaill Franks certainly held political views and expressed considerable pride in her family's Jewish affiliations, she took care not only to avoid overt declarations of those views and affiliations, but also to point to the folly of others doing so. In the mid-1730s, as political squabbling threatened to lead to a violent confrontation in New York between the "Town" and "Country" parties, Franks found occasion to tell her son: "Patriots generly act upon a private pact, but allways blend their interest with the well[fare] of the commonwealth." (29)

Moreover, even when she was describing her own emotional state, Franks placed a strong emphasis on the privacy of those feelings, even in the face of a crisis whose implications actually extended to the entire Jewish community in New York. By the time she wrote to Naphtali in 1743 with regard to his sister Phila's scandalous marriage to the gentile (and Jew-baiting) Oliver DeLancey, the grief-stricken mother had withdrawn from New York proper to the Franks' estate in Flatbush, in hopes that "it Where Possible to have Some peace of mind [there]... from the Severe Affliction I am Under on the Conduct of that Unhappy Girle." (30) Franks sought solace in the notion of escape from all public exposure, and she confided this to Naphtali, telling him that her house had become her "prisson" and that, in her grief, she "had not heart Enough to goe near the Street door." (31) For all of the inner anguish it brought to her mother, Phila's betrayal was not merely a family affair, but Franks was determined to prevent public awareness of her emotional state at all cost. By marrying out of her faith, Phila Franks had opened up her entire family, and the Jewish community itself, to wider scrutiny. At a happier time in her family's life, Abigaill Franks had spoken of the "Seceret pleasure" she derived from her observations of the "faire Charecter Our Familys has in the place by Jews and Christians." (32) A key to the maintenance of this "faire Character" appears to have been the Franks' ability to avoid undue notice through carelessness in both action and speech. The habit of verbal restraint on public matters made it especially difficult for Abigaill Franks to cope with a seemingly private situation whose communal implications threatened to violate such a tenuous public equilibrium.

Even Jewish correspondents of the period who wrote to one another in Judeo-German went out of their way to tamp down excitement, keep up appearances, and maintain a lively but measured tone in their correspondence concerning public affairs. When Meyer Josephson, a merchant based in Reading, Pennsylvania wrote in 1764 to his fellow Pennsylvanian and business associate Bernard Gratz about the affairs of an unnamed coreligionist who had been passing through town and had run afoul of the law, he made it clear that the matter was to be kept quiet for as long as possible. The blundering actions of the visitor merited the venting of some discrete humor (but also forgiveness) among his fellow Jews, but Josephson's highest priority was to keep the gentiles from drawing any associations between himself and the transgressor:
   Since Jews live here no Jew here has been in prison. [I] have the
   intention to keep him out of jail till court opens and then to let
   him go to jail. Yet, if he had met any other man but me, no one
   would have kept him one minute out of jail. He has not much sense
   and is a big Am ha-Aretz (literally translated as "people of the
   land," the phrase is a common Judeo-German expression for a fool or
   boor). I will treat him well because he is an honest man with no
   brains.


Even as they sought to inform and entertain one another, mid-eighteenth-century Jewish letter writers were schooled in the art of caution. "Suppress that element of yourself that will provoke the antagonisms of the society with which you deal," (33) these letter writers seem to have been told, and many of them learned to internalize the principle in a correspondence noteworthy for its calculated efforts to maintain outward discretion and minimize the wider world's awareness of or attention to Jewish affairs.

Notwithstanding the deliberately conversational and even irreverent quality of the Abigaill Franks letters, formality, indirectness and a highly cultivated diction were also dominant modes during this period, even for men and women of enviable social status who were merely writing to their fellow Jews. In the immediate aftermath of an unnamed setback, Gershom Mendes Seixas' November 1774 letter to Newport merchant Aaron Lopez (34) was a showpiece of emotional restraint and linguistic polish, particularly as Seixas went out of his way to avoid saying anything of obvious consequence, either about himself or the unutterable circumstance that had inspired him to write the letter in the first place. After lavishing praise on his interlocutor, the writer attempted to excuse the his boldness in addressing him. "Conscious of my own unworthiness," Seixas wrote, "I scarcely dare presume on this liberty, but convinced of your natural good disposition, your benevolence, your affability and humanity to all who have the honor of your acquaintance, [I] am encouraged to proceed, even in opposition to my own reason ...," (35) Members of the Jewish community were no more deferential toward one another and no less likely to avoid internal conflicts than any other early American constituency, but the habit of caution borne of their provisional social status strongly informed much of their written discourse and seems to have caused many of them to approach even their coreligionists with studied cordiality.

While many of the outward trappings of this studied formality did not disappear with the coming of the Revolutionary War, the outbreak of the conflict inspired a loosening of the reins when it came to deliberate expressions of passion on a range of matters, including political developments. Within an overall atmosphere in which individuals felt increasingly compelled and licensed to assert their vital interests--or at least to wax rhetorical about the rights and privileges of British subjects, American citizens or "men" in general--a previously constrained Jewish constituency found multiple occasions to express its fears, aspirations and emotional longings within the context of its own discursive frameworks. This tonal shift in the epistolary practices of North American Jews coincided with a wider tendency toward the intentional and socially sanctioned release of passionate feelings. Despite its vaunted reputation as a hallmark event in the Age of Reason, the Revolutionary War era was a growth period for the politically and socially purposeful release of strong feelings. As the historian Nicole Eustace argues, verbal representation of emotion--"in daily expression and philosophical speculation alike"--was viewed by many would-be American patriots as "a key element of natural equality" and "had a potent role to play in the reordering of Anglo-America." (36) While Revolutionary War era letter writers were loath to abandon the formal conventions that had so long served them in their endeavor to be thought of as rational and civilized beings, they viewed passion as a force for change, and they sought ways to give it voice without abandoning their attempts to uphold standards of civility. Jews could not help but participate wholeheartedly in shaping this passionate discourse and adapting it to their own discrete purposes.

"In these troublesome times": the trade implications of wartime letters

Since disagreements over economic policy had been the conflict's point of origin, and because the fighting itself interfered so profoundly with the conduct of business, the war significantly heightened the stakes for Jewish life in the colonies. Jewish merchants like the Pennsylvania- and Maryland-based Michael and Bernard Gratz, for instance, could not help but be "vitally affected by the tension and eventual conflict between the mother country and the rebellious colonies," (37) and the letters they wrote reflected this actuality. As their biographer points out, the brothers' "voluminous" wartime correspondence contained thorough documentation of "contemplated military campaigns, of American or British troop movements, of arrivals and departures of warships, of blockades and privateers, and the landings of troops and their dispositions." (38) The degree of the Gratz brothers' and other Jewish merchants' attentiveness to and increasingly passionate interest in wartime events was indicative of their growing sense that the outcome of those events would be determinative of their future.

Deliberate or incidental as their actual expressions may have been, many occasions for the articulation of passionate feelings arose in the face of the political conflicts and military struggles of the Revolutionary War that so frequently heightened economic instability. The tightening of economic strictures--whether by British colonial authorities or by the American merchants who were bent on resisting those colonial authorities through the adoption of nonimportation compacts and other trade boycotts--fomented a crisis among Jewish merchants that continued to play out until years after the war's close. The century of seemingly unprecedented prosperity that enabled Jewish enterprises to thrive in British America had often strained credulity among the merchants, whose past history had made them "not quite ready to believe their good fortune" (39) and had instilled in them the habit of curtailing enthusiasm and avoiding alarm. While financial uncertainty had been a mainstay in the lives of Jews before the war, it fairly defined their lives during the conflict and, in such a context, there seemed little sense in maintaining the habit of reticence around its expression. "Turmoil was the lot of America's first Jews," writes Laura Leibman, and the Revolutionary War only accentuated the uncertainty that had been shaping their outlook for decades. (40) In the face of this intensified financial tenuousness, letter writers did not hesitate to express their fears (and to trumpet their occasional triumphs) forcefully.

In fact, as Leibman and other scholars of early Jewish American history argue, while the Revolutionary War may well have ushered in a new age in world Jewish history, "in the short term, it was highly destructive for the economy of the Atlantic Rim" upon which most early American Jews' livelihood depended. (41) The letters that they wrote to one another comprise a powerful record of their doubts, concerns and evident inability to feel assured in any way as to how its outcome would affect them. It is worth noting that Jews were hardly the only inhabitants of North America who experienced the conflict with Britain as a frighteningly uncertain time. As Jack P. Greene points out, the "mood of optimism and rhetoric of success" that seems to have accompanied and accelerated the fervor of the American rebellion against Great Britain "existed in an uneasy tension with a deep, pervasive, and probably growing sense of failure." (42) From moment to moment and from day to day, whichever side of the struggle one joined, the progress of the war brought few assurances of anything but continued uncertainty and deprivation. Regardless of their political alignments, Jewish merchants found themselves reaching for new heights of candor as they struggled to cope with the fairly constant stress of wartime conditions and their growing sense that their own future was inextricably connected to that of their fellow North Americans.

Michael and Bernard Gratz had been early adherents to the cause of rebellion. In 1770, Barnard Gratz had written Michael Gratz from London about a speech that King George III had just delivered in Parliament. "I was going to inclose you the king's speech to the parlement," he wrote, "[but it] was such narishkeit (foolishness) that [it] is not worth the postage." (43) Concomitant with the broader spirit of revolutionary change, letter writers who had once gone out of their way to avoid public imprecations of their neighbors, let alone any imputation of offense to themselves as Jews, found themselves driven to speak more candidly when the occasion necessitated it. So much attention given to discussions and debates on the duties of patriots in the public sphere was bound to inspire a new boldness. When Virginia authorities contracted the Gratz brothers in early 1776 to supply leather for troops in the field, the brothers went out of their way to furnish the goods they had agreed to deliver in a timely manner. Michael Gratz's letter to the Virginia commissary department spoke unhesitatingly about the selfishness he had encountered on the part of "Sundry Tanners in the Country" who had been unwilling to furnish him with the necessary leather at a reasonable price. "[I] am very sorry for the delays," he wrote to the commissary, "but while such difference in the City and Country goes on ... It seems to me that there is no Vertue honor or honesty left among the peoples." (44) Gratz was not merely speaking in a blunt fashion about the backcountry tanners' apparent indifference to the progress of the patriotic cause--about which he and his brother, according to their biographer, "were probably among the best informed private citizens in the country." (45) He was also embracing a political outlook that, according to the spirit of the times, demanded loyal behavior from all. His accusation of an entire class of frontier-dwelling leather suppliers, charging them with dishonesty and indifference to the cause of the Revolution, was uniquely rash for a Jew of his time.

Not every merchant was as quick as the Gratz brothers had been to embrace the rebellion or, for that matter, to defend the English in their opposition to it. In the years leading up to the outbreak of the war, Aaron Lopez of Newport "had been something less than unwavering in his support of the Continental cause," as his biographer puts it. (46) "The passions of an ardent rebel" did not appear in his correspondence until the war had been underway for some time, and even when they did announce themselves, it was clear that financial considerations, as opposed to unmitigated patriotic fervor, had inspired his change of heart. Through the 1760s and early 1770s, Lopez had "paid scant attention to Continental boycotts," and, as late as 1775, he "did his best to maintain good relations with the British elite" in order to avoid the ill effects of the blockade that the English navy had imposed upon the rebellious colonies. (47) By the latter years of the war, however, Lopez, who had fled Newport in the face of the British invasion there and who was in the midst of trying to convince the Continental Congress to repay him for the seizure of one of his privateers, no longer hesitated to speak openly about the damage done to the "reputable ladys" of his previous home city by the acts of "our destructive enemys." (48) Lopez's transformations from a rhetorically mild and unimpeachably neutral "merchant prince" and from a member of an "undifferentiated economic elite" to a "conspicuous and open" friend of the American cause and "a professed enemy to the British" are traceable, at least in part, through the evolution of his letter-writing style. (49)

Other merchants had also found unique ways to "work both sides of the street" during the years leading up to the conflict, as Mark Abbott Stern puts it in his biography of the Philadelphia merchant David Franks (a son of New York's Abigaill and Jacob Franks and brother to Abigail! Frank's London correspondent of previous decades, the elder Naphtali). In February of T776, David Franks secured a contract with the Continental Congress to be the prime victualer to British prisoners of war. Fie had thereby obtained a promising position as someone with uniquely unassailable credentials and enviable financial stability, a man who could at once serve the American cause and claim to be acting in the best interests of captured English soldiers. Having "reached the ultimate gentleman's status, with an elegant townhouse and a splendid country home," Franks ought to have been protected from the war's effects and, indeed, to have profited from them. (50) Neither he nor Lopez nor just about any other Jewish merchant who wished to do so managed, however, to maintain either the appearance or the actuality of such neutrality for any length of time. If nothing else, in the urgency of Franks' need to defend his honor in the face of the inevitable accusations of treasonous behavior that were directed at him by some of his fellow Pennsylvanians, the American army supplier would find multiple occasions, in his private correspondence, in his court testimony, and in a postwar petition to the British Parliament for financial recompense, to wax eloquent and forceful on the subject of his own innocence and honor. Unable because of a physical ailment to write the words himself, Franks had directed a scribe to assert his defense in 1778: "I have never had any Criminal Intention towards this country, but have done sundry Services to the public Cause." (51) Regardless of where Franks' actual loyalties lay, the war had made it impossible for a merchant of his standing and aspiration to desist from making bold claims as to his innocence. Franks' eagerness to avoid paying a financial price for the war had resulted in his having to pay a political one, and he could not enter the political fray without speaking his mind freely. In the atmosphere of candor and "common sense" that had resulted from the outbreak of hostilities between England and America, outspokenness on political matters was not simply preferable to reticence--one's very survival depended upon it.

As the progress of trade was progressively threatened and curtailed by the war, Jewish merchants could not help but grow more concerned as their hard-won status appeared to be in jeopardy. Their written correspondence gave voice to mounting worries, heightened emotions and increasingly outright expressions of allegiance to one side and animosity toward the other. Over the course of their settlement in the colonies, Jewish merchants had come to take for granted the ability to ship and receive goods at will and to transfer their operations from one city to another in accordance with market needs. The fighting between the two armies and the frequency with which the British, in particular, would occupy and close off access to cities, rural districts, harbors and sea-lanes, posed a constant challenge, and the letters of Jewish merchants spoke with mounting fervor to the effects of these depredations. As one merchant, Benjamin Levy, put it in a letter to an overseas correspondent to whom he was long overdue in responding, the "politeness and every valuable qualification to render [him] worthy" of the other man's efforts in his behalf had been interrupted by "the various scenes of British Policy," which had "so agitated" him that he could "think of nothing else." (52)

By the middle years of the conflict, as the war swept through communities up and down the seaboard, letter writers' abstractly conceived political objections to British policies and actions were accompanied and sometimes entirely replaced by their firsthand descriptions of the war's immediate effects. In the winter of 1778, Eleazar Levy, a resident of the Delaware Valley town of Easton, Pennsylvania was eager to find a new house for himself and his wife. In a letter to his friend and business associate Barnard Gratz, he lamented the limitations that the war had imposed upon his safety and mobility and said that he looked forward to finding a safe haven in the spring. "In these troublesome times," as Levy put it, "it's a matter of indifference to me where I am situated ... provided it is where there are some Jews and free from being disturbed by the Enemy." (53) As a continuous procession of war-related obstacles prevented him from conducting business as usual, Levy could not help but note how "extraordy these times" were proving to be. Moses Michael Hays, a Boston-based merchant and privateer who developed fairly strong American proclivities over the course of the war, described the situation facing businessmen such as himself and his correspondent in similarly unstinting terms. (54) In a September 1779 letter to his former Newport associate Aaron Lopez, Hays remarked upon the "state of Business" in Philadelphia, whence he had recently come from his newly established base of operations in Boston. "A General Disapprobation appears among the Trading People," Hays wrote, owing to the fact that "fixed Prices" had become a thing of the past and "most goods ... [were] selling at the most enormous Prices that ever yet Transpired in the course of the warn" (55) He saw no point in naming any specific commodities, as "every Usuall article sold is now Beyond all Connection." Levy, Hays and other Jewish merchants framed the state of affairs in their letters by applying language that fitted its extreme and unprecedented nature.

Impediments to the transportation of goods, as well as inflationary prices and punitive tax policies constituted frequent subject matter in many Revolutionary War era letters by Jews and, in such instances, dramatic descriptions were called for. In June of 1779, David Lopez Jr. advised his uncle, Aaron Lopez, about the "danger which attend[s] our Coasting Vessels, from the British cruizers that infest the [Massachusetts] bay." (56) In an earlier letter to Aaron Lopez from January 1779, Samson Mears, one of several New York-based Jews who had relocated to nearby Norwalk, Connecticut in the wake of the British occupation of the city, referred to "so many difficulties attending the getting of Flour out of New York State" that there was no hope of any trader dealing in that commodity anymore. As Mears explained, with the British occupying the city and vying for control over the Hudson Valley, "there is no possibility of obtaining a permit to carry any, and there is no possibility out of this State that's raised in it." (57) Mears was no less forthright when he wrote Lopez on a more encouraging note three months later, assuring his friend that "he would have Seed ready to move" in short order, owing in part to his sense that he and his operation were safe from any threat from the British, who (he thought) "will have greater objects to attend to" than the occupation of such an "insignificant place" as Norwalk. He was proven wrong that very July, when the British laid waste to the Connecticut town--a strong testament to the volatility of the situation that inspired these Jewish correspondents to venture to use such direct language in the first place. (58)

"New difficulties arising ... by the restrictions on trade" were "add[ing] to the confusions of the times," Mears wrote Lopez two days after Norwalk had been lost to the British. (59) By November of that same year, a thoroughly defeated Mears was writing Lopez of his newly hatched intention "to leave the Continent in pursuit of better fortune than [he] had met on it." (60) In fact, that particular month had brought a quantity of bad news. Exactly one day after Mears wrote to Lopez regarding his intentions of departing North America altogether, Newporter Abraham Mendes warned the merchant prince about the detrimental effects that the "totall defeat" of both the French and American forces in Georgia two months earlier were certain to have upon market conditions. As Mendes told Lopez, the tide of events in the South was going to "greatly reduce [the value of] our currency," which most Newport merchants now "totaley refused" to accept for payments. The Jewish merchants' business correspondence indicated that the war's most salient effects upon them derived from the obstacles it constantly posed to the free flow of trade, and since they had never faced such strong obstacles before, the tone and phrasing of their letters was frequently an elevated one.

Jewish merchants often referred to the war and to the depredations of the invading British army as if they were inclement conditions whose cessation could come about only as the result of divine intervention. At the end of a sentence whose purpose it was to account for the high price of flour ("owing chiefly to he depreciation of Paper Currency") just as Passover was approaching, Isaac Seixas wrote to Lopez, "God send us better times." Likewise, in his letter of July 2, 1779 to Aaron Lopez, the New York merchant Moses Gomez (who, like so many others from that city, had fled to Philadelphia ahead of the British occupation) offered his "prayers to Almighty God to protect us all, and Grant that" his correspondent and his "worthy spouse may live to see [their] Dear Children happily Setteled in the world." (61) Both Gomez and Lopez had been among the most prosperous merchants in their respective communities, but the war had obtruded upon their great success and threatened to degrade their future enterprises. Calamitous business developments also shaped the course of events on the home front by depleting monetary stores that had once been plentiful, and some of the merchants believed that only God could supply the necessary deliverance from such circumstances. In July of 1780, Frances Sheftall, the wife of the Savannah merchant and revolutionary partisan Mordecai Sheftall (and mother of his son and comrade-in-arms Sheftall Sheftall), found herself coping singlehandedly (her husband and son had been taken prisoner by the British six months previous) to care for a houseful of sick children. Like a number of other Savannah Jews with American loyalties, she and her family had fled to Charleston. "How I shall be able to pay the doctor's bill and house rent, God only knowes," she wrote her husband. In depicting war-borne economic turmoil as a divinely ordained hazard, Jews were not only applying strong language; they were also acknowledging that, for better or worse, their lot had fallen in with that of America itself. They were not afraid to say that they were prepared to rise or fall in accordance with the nation's fate.

Michael Judah's letter of November 28, 1780 to Aaron Lopez and his father-in-law, Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, his one-time suppliers, described the war in plaintive terms as a series of misfortunes that had come to test him in his old age. (62) "I am so far advanc'd in years," he wrote, "that if I don't do something, I will soon spend what little I have left." The opportunities presented in the context of the rebellion against Britain had instilled an excess of confidence in the Norwalk, Connecticut-based merchant, who had mistakenly entrusted his future to the shifting fortunes of paper currency in inflationary times. Alluding to the conflict itself as "these times" ("when these times began I had but about twelve hundred pounds ... that I could call my own"), Judah asked Lopez and Rivera for financial support at a desperate time and in the aftermath of what he now acknowledged both as his mistaken financial judgment and his imprudent confidence in the American cause. In 1777, he had mistakenly put his faith in the value of the paper money he had traded for the sugar he had purchased from the prosperous Rhode Island merchants. Now, as a consequence, he was nearly broke. His letter to the Newport merchants was a cry for help.

Judah said nothing in his letter about the British raid on Norwalk or its effects on his family or circumstances in his letter to his would be benefactors. Instead, he concentrated wholeheartedly on the matter at hand, which was the procurement of emergency funds to reverse a precipitous decline that had resulted from his initial excess of faith in the possibility of a swift and decisive American victory. At the outset of the conflict, he had "laid" his 1,200 pounds "out in the artickel of suger, and at that time expected to advance [him-]self greatly by it." Shortly thereafter, he had sold a quantity of the sugar for paper money. "By the advice of ... friends," Judah continued, he
   Kept the money by me for some time, 1 expecting it would be good in
   time. But to my misfortune it sunk so fast that I got little or
   nothing for the hool, as low as a penny for a doller. So that I
   have all most sunk my hool substance so that I am not able to carry
   on any bussiness, and as I cannot go to New York for supplyes, (63)
   and you are gentlemen that has goods on hand and willing to do all
   the good you can to people under misfortunes, I beg tht you will
   befriend me, to let me have a small assortment of goods.


It is not known whether Lopez and Rivera ever offered Judah the assistance he sought in order to make up for his former error of putting too much faith in the fortunes of Continental currency (and in the military and political outcome upon which its value depended). However, as one historian puts it, Judah is known to have "died impoverished as a victim 63 of currency inflation caused by the Revolution." (64) While he had been too old for the battlefield and too impecunious to assist in financing the war effort, he would indeed become one of the war's several Jewish casualties. His letter's plaintive tone had hinted at his awareness of that fact.

As for Judah's would-be benefactors, they, too, had weathered all manner of shifting fortunes during the conflict, most significantly in their having had to evacuate their families and businesses to neighboring Leicester, Massachusetts when Newport was first bombarded and then occupied by British forces. While he had been somewhat slow to warm to the rebellion, Lopez evolved over time to become a wholehearted supporter of the patriotic cause in the war; the three privateers he owned are credited with having raided several English merchant ships and with having thereby contributed to the American war effort. As the war approached its conclusion, Lopez would find himself referring unguardedly to the British surrender at Yorktown as "our glorious conquest of Virginia." (65) His path to the expression of such unmitigated ardor for the American cause had not been without its bumps. In the early part of 1779, the British man-of-war Bristol had boarded one of Lopez's privateers, the schooner Hope, while she was on her way back to New England from Jamaica. It had been a close call; only minutes before the inspection, the ship's captain had barely managed to jettison all of the papers that would have betrayed the vessel's actual mission and told the British sailors that he was bound for Halifax with a permitted cargo. Ironically, a worse fate lay ahead, at the hands of two American privateers that were patrolling the waters off Block Island. Notwithstanding Lopez's already established (if self-serving) affiliation with the American cause, the Hope was seized. The Connecticut admiralty court gave an unsympathetic hearing to his case to recover the ship's value, and only after extensive litigation in the Continental Congress did Lopez's party obtain redress; however, the merchant was already dead by the time this occurred.

In the interim, the ongoing legal wrangling over the fate of the Hope's cargo inspired a spate of strongly worded letters from Lopez's allies and correspondents. The tone of these communiques was striking for its high pitch and unfettered expression of disdain for the merchant prince's would-be tormentors. Were Lopez and his allies so confident of their status in the American courts that they would so openly vilify their stateside opponents in the midst of a war? Abraham Mendes referred to the "troublesome Lawsuit" as the "the design of [a] Vilanous antagonist." (66) Lopez's nephew David Lopez did not hesitate to utter even bolder imprecations against his uncle's challengers. In an August 3, 1779 letter to his uncle, David Lopez referred to their actions as "The Ungratefull & Malevolent Conduct of the persons who Occasion you the disagreeable trouble." He then went on to describe them and the injustice that they had imposed upon his uncle in an unprecedentedly impolitic language. These were men who ought to have viewed Aaron Lopez as an ally. However:
   an Innocent trespass full discovers the rancor of a base & Envious
   disposition[.] Yet [I] am happy to find it has rather reflected an
   additional lusture on your unsullied reputation than otherways, &
   recall with more than double disgrace upon those vile reptiles
   whose growling souls so callous to the dictates of a Just and
   liberall Sentiment, could lead them to a design so repugnant to
   every moral & Sociall Virtue. (67)


Writing his uncle again from Providence on October 12, 1779, David Lopez would go so far as to caricature the American admiralty judges as "Rascally, peaked, [and] Bearded" in their "Chicanery." (68) All in all, David Lopez's epistolary defense of his uncle's honor was demonstrative of a newfound rashness of expression that the harsh conditions of war had evidently inspired in Jews and gentiles alike, and, in this case, it had taken shape without specific regard for whether it implicated the partisans of the American or the British causes. The new language, as Nichole Eustace describes it, was "a heady blend of civic love, mighty anger, and communal sympathy" that overflowed the bounds of propriety and caution. (69)

For his own part, Aaron Lopez had traveled to Philadelphia in February of 1779 in the hope of being able to convince the Continental Congress to overturn the negative decision by the Connecticut admiralty court. As preoccupied as he may have been with the task of seeking redress for the Hope's seizure, Lopez found many more causes for excitement besides that one to discuss in his letters. His one-time friend from Newport days, Captain Joseph Anthony, had recently moved to Pennsylvania, and he wished to see Lopez. In his response to Anthony's letter, Lopez described his recent experiences and relayed the latest news from Rhode Island. Despite "these times of publick and almost universal callamity," Lopez wrote, he was pleased to know that his friend had been "blest" with "health, peace, and plenty," as well as with the capacity to feel gratitude for what God had conferred upon him. (70) The Jewish merchant went on to describe the occurrences that had followed from the British invasion of Newport. "Since we left our Island [Newport]," Lopez wrote,
   my principle object was to look out for a spot where I could place
   my family, secured from sudden alarms and the cruel ravages of an
   enraged enemy. Such a one I have hitherto found in the small island
   township of Leicester, in the Massachusetts Bay, where I pitch'd my
   tent, erecting a proportionable one to the extent of my numerous
   family on the sumit of a high healthy hill, where we have
   experienc'd the civilities and hospitality of a kind neighborhood.


Lopez's pronouncement on the subject of the "cruel ravages of an enraged enemy" was a far cry from his and his fellow Jews' earlier efforts to avoid overt statements on public matters. Much of the letter, which comprised one of the longest sustained single pieces of Lopez's correspondence that was not devoted to the mere issuance of business directives, recounted the effects that the British takeover had had upon the residents of Newport. "The want of fewell and provisions," Lopez wrote, was having a debilitating effect on "those individuals of my society [i.e. the Jews] who ... had not tasted any meat but once in two months" and were left to subsist "upon chocolate and coffe."

Thanks to the initiative Lopez had taken in leaving Newport and also to his evident good fortune in being blessed with welcoming neighbors in Leicester, his own immediate circle had been spared the worst. They had only heard about, but not witnessed or experienced "these and many other callamities and insults the wretched inhabitants" of Newport had suffered at the hands of their invaders. Lopez owed "thanks to that Great Being" who given him the idea of "exchanging that melancholy spot" for a more hospitable one in Massachusetts. The privations undergone by Aaron Lopez and other prosperous Jewish merchants may not have been as severe as those experienced by a host of other Revolutionary War era businessmen, let alone farmers, mechanics and members of the underclass, but they were evidently sufficient to inspire an unrestrained discursive style and engagement of topics with political overtones on the part of correspondents who had formerly been more cautious. "Try to divert your self as much as possible": battlefield and home front correspondence

For obvious reasons, Jews who served in the armed forces of both warring parties were no less eager and willing than merchants were to write about the conflict and its impact, at least in their correspondence with other Jews. Having experienced the fighting firsthand, they did not hesitate to describe their combat experiences in detail, announce their allegiances and vilify the enemy. They were among the first Jews in the New World to do so, since, as Samuel Rezneck suggests, the Revolution itself was "the first war since antiquity anywhere in which Jews participated in its several aspects." (71) Much of the existing verbal testimony on Jewish military participation in the Revolutionary War comes from the handful of firsthand accounts that emerged in the years following the conflict. A few of the better-known Jewish veterans, including Mordecai Sheftall (of Savannah), David Salisbury Franks (of Montreal and Philadelphia), and Benjamin Nones (who emigrated from Bordeaux to Philadelphia in 1777) prepared brief narratives of their service at the war's conclusion. (72) Muster rolls, census and tax records, and an assortment of battle reports comprise the remaining evidence of Jewish military service to the American cause during the Revolution; the accepted figure of 100 participants (or approximately one in twenty-five Jews in America) results from historians' painstaking examination of these documents. Figures for the number of Jewish Loyalist combatants are less easy to come by, and our knowledge of their experiences is largely limited to anecdotal reports of their service. (73)

It is worth noting that at least a quarter of the Jewish partisans of the American cause served in one unit alone--Captain Richard Lushington's somewhat exaggeratedly nicknamed "Jew Company." (74) Moreover, according to one nineteenth-century chronicler of South Carolina Jewry, more than thirty-five Jews served from that state alone, comprising an entire third of the Jews who served the American cause during the Revolution. (75) Unfortunately, few of these Carolina Jews left any record of their experiences in or contributions to the war effort. While the facts of their actual participation in the war are for the most part irrefutable, very little insight into their actual attitudes toward the war can been ascertained from written correspondence. The letters that do exist, both by actual combatants and by men and women who witnessed the prosecution of the war on the home front, suggests that Jews experienced the military conflict of the Revolutionary War as a painful and bewildering period of deprivation, punctuated by an occasional moment of triumph--or, at least, relief. Their descriptions of the fighting and its effects upon them both as individuals and as members of families and communities were notable for their expressions of unmitigated fervor against a former backdrop of Jewish restraint.

One of the most frequently cited accounts of the exploits of a Jewish fighter during the war was the one given by an American officer who witnessed the death, shortly after the issuance of the Declaration of Independence, of South Carolina's Francis Salvador. Salvador, a Sephardic Jew who had been born in London and had only arrived in South Carolina in 1773, was mortally wounded on July 3 1, 1776 in a frontier skirmish with a Cherokee band that was allied with local Tories. (76) Less than two weeks prior to this occurrence, Salvador had written to Chief Justice William Drayton of the state's Supreme Court to apprise him of progress in the frontier campaign. After registering a complaint that his own regiment was not receiving the backing it required from the locals, who "grumb!e(d| at being commanded by a Major," and after describing a series of additional obstacles to his unit's success, Salvador acknowledged that his remarks on these matters might be perceived by his superiors as impertinent. "I hope you will pardon the freedom with which I express my sentiments," he said, "but I look upon it as an advantage to men in power to be truly informed of the people's situation and disposition." (77) Any doubts as to Salvador's actual loyalty were likely dispelled when news of his death in battle was made public. Just before expiring, Salvador had reportedly asked his commanding officer, Major Andrew Wilson, whether he had defeated his enemies, and, when told that he had done so, Salvador announced that he was very glad of it. (78)

All along, Salvador had been a strong partisan of the rebellion. Prior to his brief wartime service, he had been elected to the first and second provincial congresses. As one recent historian suggests, Salvador had "found acceptance among his rural compatriots," owing in part to the forthrightness with which he argued for colonial rights and expressed his opposition to one fellow Carolinian's failure to participate in an embargo on British goods. (79) The story of Salvador's death, as well as of his prior service to the South Carolina Assembly and at the head of his troops, offered compelling evidence of one Jew's devotion to the American cause. If nothing else, the reports of his final utterance on the battlefield certainly dramatized the shift from reticence to high enthusiasm on the part of Revolutionary War era Jews.

More sustained instances of emotional fervor on the part of Jewish participants in and witnesses to the war can be found in the letters written in the midst of the conflict. In July of 1776, Philadelphia merchant Samson Levy, who had been one of six Jewish signatories to a 1765 nonimportation agreement, wrote his son Moses, who at that time was encamped with "Capt. Delany's Compy in Coll. Cadwalader's Battalion" somewhere on the outskirts of Trenton, New Jersey. While it is known that father and son would both sign their names (along with those of another fifty persons) to an oath of allegiance to "Delaware State" in 1778, the July 1776 letter offers the greatest insight into Moses Levy's wartime service. (80) The letter's most remarkable feature was its writer's eagerness to apprise his son of local and distant developments in the armed conflict. Before he went on to announce the latest strategic developments, however, the elder Levy devoted significant attention to describing the lengths to which he had gone (and would continue to go) to reach his son in the field. He also wanted to assure Moses that all was well at home and to encourage him to concentrate on the matter at hand, which was his military service:
   I have already written to you this morning by Coll. McLean but fear
   you might not see him Soon enough for this is to Inform you your
   Dear Mother is much better then she was yesterday wch I think of
   the greatest moment to you to know as I suppose your Spirits will
   rise & fall in proportion as we  Feel. I send this by post for
   the first time. Tomorrow morning I will write you by Mr. Peasely
   who goes by water. Let us hear from you as often as possible for
   nothing else Can attone or make amends for your Absence....
   Try to Divert your self as much as possible & Drive away all
   Serious thoughts of home for one month wch I think will make
   your Absence agreeable to you & lighter to me for I shall studdy
   to make Mama & Myself do the same.


While the father's eagerness to reach his son in the field comes as no surprise, his concern lest Moses become preoccupied with the state of his family's well-being in the midst of campaigning indicates that the outcome of the fight was of great importance to him as well. Such an interpretation is corroborated by the remaining portions of Levy's letter, which on the whole comprises one of the most detailed contemporary accounts of the war to be found in any letter written by a Jew during the conflict.

Besides ushering in the declaration of American independence, the summer of 1776 had occasioned an eventful shifting of theaters. The British had evacuated Boston in the spring and were converging a massive combined infantry and naval force on New York. The attempted American invasion of Quebec had resulted in a full-fledged retreat. John Burgoyne, the British commander, had just arrived in that city with nearly 10,000 newly deployed soldiers, nearly half of which were Hessian mercenaries. American forces were facing pressure on several fronts simultaneously, trying to cope with their lack of a navy, and frantically trying to protect their fledgling Continental Congress from capture in Philadelphia. Samson Levy's letter to his son tried, in fragmentary fashion, to convey some of this news, and to do so in such a way as to raise hopes for an American triumph. Despite the loss of Quebec, Levy evidently had high hopes for a turnaround, based on news he had recently heard that the Americans who had attempted to take that city, despite having "left Canada for being too sickly" were "now growing healthy" and would soon "be able to withstand any force Burgoin may bring against them."

Evidently, Samson also knew some of Moses' comrades in the field and was eager to wish them well.
   I am with my Compli[men]tes. to all of my acquaintances in your
   Comp[any], 9 or 10 hundred Maryld Men Lodged Last Night at Chester
   and [I] Suppose they are in Town before this week or will be this
   evening. So hope will soon form ye flying Camp (81) as you return
   for these men are to be part of it. The New Castle Assembly Set's
   next Monday will then grant Commisions for their men ... I hear the
   Virginians were going to attack Dunmore Immediately. I fancy ...
   they were on their way thither. I wish them success as I do all our
   friends ...


Like so many other witnesses to the war, civilian and military alike, Samson Levy's view of ongoing events was largely limited to what came within his geographical purview. Nonetheless, on the basis of what little he knew, Levy had taken the opportunity of writing to his son in order not only to relay tidings from the home front, but also to apprise him of developments as they were occurring in the wider context of the war itself in the hope of boosting his morale. His letter of July 1776 certainly gave no hint of the darker times to come for the American cause.

One of the few Jewish Revolutionary War letters to include a firsthand account of actual fighting was that of Pennsylvanian Solomon Bush, who was wounded shortly after the Battle of Brandywine in September of 1777. Bush would eventually be commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army, and his achievement of that rank was no doubt at least in part the result of his steadfast enthusiasm for the American cause. His letter of November 15 to Marylander Henry Lazarus described the battle injury he had just suffered and his imprisonment by the British in its aftermath. Following his injury, Bush told Lazarus, he "was bro't home [to Chestnut Hill] in a most deplorable condition with my thigh broke and the surgeons pronounced my wound mortal." (81) Initially, his family and friends managed to conceal him from the British search party that had been sent out to arrest him, but three weeks later "a villain gave information" regarding his whereabouts and Bush was guarded in his own home by a party of redcoats who had taken up residence there. Despite the civil treatment he received at their hands (including the constant attention of a British surgeon), Bush wasted no time in telling Lazarus that he was eager to get back into the fight.

Before going on to describe the latest developments in the field, Bush celebrated the recent American victory over Burgoyne at Saratoga, wishing his friend "joy of the success of our troops to the northward." For his own part, he wanted his "limb perfectly straight" as soon as possible in order that he might "be able to get satisfaction and revenge the rongs of my injured country." His eagerness to do so and his willingness to refer unequivocally to the British as doers of so much "rong" were of a piece with what Jack P. Greene refers to as one of the central pillars of the rebellion: "the desacralization of the customary moral order." (83) Bush's excitement at his own survival, combined with the delight he took in the Americans' recent triumph in the Hudson Valley, was palpable. He hoped soon to be able to tell Lazarus that New York had been retaken. In the meantime, Bush did his best to convey a feeling of immediacy and drama in connection with the fighting that was occurring around his home city. "The [English] shipping is not got up to Philad'a though this is the 9th time of their attacking the fort," (84) he wrote. These events were neither remote nor of merely abstract interest: "There is a cannonade whilst I am writeing," he announced. The overtly patriotic sentiment in Bush's letter to Lazarus has garnered significant scholarly attention (in describing the British incursion into the Philadelphia area, he had also pointed out that "Howe's march this way has made many Wigs"). The strength of the letter's language was strongly echoed by its forceful and energetic tone.

Much of the extant Jewish reportage of the war was written not by direct participants in the fighting but by those whose peripatetic mercantile operations exposed them to the movements of the armies through fought-over territories or offered them access to news relayed from the front by either letter or newspaper. Providence-based David Lopez, Jr., who was also his uncle's regular correspondent on business matters, frequently included war news in the context of his business correspondence. He eagerly sent Aaron Lopez congratulatory news "on the Happy Important Success of the American Arms, over the British forces at Charlestown [South Carolina]" in his letter of June 2.2., 1779. (85) Three months later, he described the British evacuation of Providence. (86) David Lopez appended his most detailed account of war news--a report on the recent joint French and American victory in South Carolina--as a postscript to his letter of October 24, 1779.

While Lopez had not been an eyewitness to the events he recounted for his uncle in Leicester, he relayed the news with an immediacy, enthusiasm and strongly partisan spirit rarely seen in letters by Jewish merchants during the war:
   An express is just arrived from Geni Washington, Confirmg the
   Capture of the British Garison at Beauford [South Carolina] with
   sir James Wallace & his fleet by the Count De Estaing. The attack
   was made on the 16th ult and Carried after a very Severe Conflict.
   They have taken prisoners 700 British with 200 Tories & Negroes, &
   dispersed the rest through the woods where the militia were
   pursuing them in all Quarters. 13 Transports 1 Ship of 50 Guns &
   Severall Frigates is what the [British] Fleet consisted of that
   fell into the Count's hands. The Count after this proceeded to
   attack Savannah. The wind continues north East & and we momently
   expect to hear the departure of the Britons from Newport. (87)


Lopez may have included the report on the recapture of Charleston in order to assure his uncle of Newport's imminent restoration to order, pending the anticipated British evacuation of that city under favorable sailing conditions and in the wake of the French admiral's recent triumph to the southward. He was, after all, Aaron Lopez's trusted business protege. (88) The level of detail he provided, however, and the pacing of his account suggest that he also felt and wished to convey a pronounced exhilaration at the prospect of such a promising turn of events as the one he was relaying to his uncle.

While not all accounts of wartime activity tended to be as breathlessly enthusiastic as the younger Lopez's was, expressions of passion were ubiquitous. Eyewitness reports were attentive to the conflict's debilitating effects on life and property. When Samson Mears wrote to Aaron Lopez about the British raid on Norwalk, Connecticut in July 1779, he warned his correspondent that he was not quite up to the task of describing what he and his neighbors had just lived through. "To discribe the scene with all its horrors and the distress of its [i.e., Norwalk's] inhabitants require a much abler pen than mine," he wrote. (89) The "savage enemy" had advanced on the town on July 8, and Mears and his fellow townspeople were "closely employed till the hour of the Sabbath" on evacuating their homes, carrying as much as they could with them, and seeking shelter wherever they could find it. Adding to the general feeling of suffering experienced by the Jews in particular was the fact that the British attack on Norwalk coincided with Tisha B'Av, "the Anniversary Season with all its gloom that our predecessors experienced." The implied parallel between the "mass rage and grief" of the Jews and that of their adoptive American countrymen was indicative of what Mears now felt to be at stake in the conflict.

In the hour of their greatest fear and exposure to danger, it was only the sudden intercession of a fellow Jew that saved Mears and the thirty-odd family members and neighbors from the worst. The "incessant firing of cannon and musquetry and awful appearance of several columns of smoak ascending from the conflagrated buildings" in town, compounded with heavy rain against which the group was "so illy provided" caused many to flee further "up the country." Desperate to escape this apparently merciless attack upon the very town to which so many of them had only recently escaped in their flight from the British capture of New York, the group "continued to rove from place to place till this hospitable roof of Mr. Aaron [Nunez] Cardoza's was humanely open'd to our use," Mears explained. He devoted the remainder of his letter to Lopez to enumerating the financial setbacks that the raid had brought about, including the destruction of houses and the total loss of his supply of flaxseed and rum. In an echo of Michael Gratz's 1776 letter to the Virginia Commissary, Mears also lamented the "selfish" behavior of many townspeople who, as he put it, "preferred] their own trivial domestick employ to the pressing calls for the preservation of their distressed neighbours." His letter to Lopez spared few details, minced few words, and announced its sentiments boldly.

Given the memory of freedom, prosperity and relative tranquility that so many Jews had only recently found in the New World, the sudden disappearance of these same hard-won liberties in the wake of the war with Great Britain could only have come as a shock. Bystanders to the conflict like Frances Sheftall of Savannah faced myriad difficulties and physical dangers. Having fled to Charleston with her children and several other Jewish families from the British takeover of the Georgia port--a takeover that had resulted in her husband's and son's capture as prisoners of war--Mrs. Sheftall was eager to lend what assistance she could to her men in distress. "I would have sent something to your reliefe," she wrote to her husband on March 3, 1780, "but the enemy now lay off at the bar, so that it is not in my power to do anything for you at present." (90) Four months later, Mrs. Sheftall sent another letter to her husband, who by then had been paroled by the British and had settled in Philadelphia, where he and his son sought to revive their business careers. Her letter of July 20, 1780 related the latest tidings from Charleston in fervent tones. That city had fallen to the British at the end of a "three longe months sige" during which "thare was scarce a woman to be see[n] in the streets" owing to the "balls [that] flew like haile during the cannonading." (91) Mrs. Sheftall's letter described the civilian toll in unstinting detail, including in it an account of a smallpox epidemic that her own children had managed to survive, as well references to the loss of the "six Jew children" from families other than hers (see pages 5-6) and to the yellow fever that had killed "Little Billey," one of the Sheftalls' slaves. Echoing the theology of her Protestant neighbors, she noted that she could do nothing but "trust to Providence knowing that the Almighty never sends trouble but he sends some relief."

Conclusion: "Thanks to the almighty it is now at an end"

Like their gentile compatriots, Jews experienced the Revolutionary War as an extended period of anxiety, deprivation and excitement, and the emotional tenor of their written correspondence relayed much of the drama that was attendant on such an experience. With their relatively sudden acquisition of trading rights, religious autonomy and provisional social acceptance so recent in their memory, the Jews of North America who lent their support to the revolutionary cause understood how much was at stake for them. Barely twenty years earlier, in 1753, a great debate had raged in England over the proposed conferral of rights of citizenship on Jews, and as the Whig proponents of this "Jew Bill" were forced to retract their legislation in the midst of the controversy and its stirring of popular anti-Jewish sentiment, Jews on both sides of the Atlantic could only have taken notice that their situation was a precarious one indeed. Perhaps the memory of the 1753 debate, news of which had been broadcast throughout the colonies, was fresh enough to remind the Jews of British North America that whatever gains they may have thought they had made as prospective subjects of the Crown were entirely tentative. Bearing this and other considerations in mind, and taking into account their high level of dependence upon the goodwill of their fellow colonists, Jews had hedged their bets and, to varying degrees and with notable exceptions, consigned their individual and collective fate to the future of America, whatever it might be. Doing so necessitated and warranted a new willingness to speak their minds and to freely partake in the highly politicized discourse of the era.

As the smoke of battle cleared and as Americans awaited the imminent departure of the invading British army and navy, the war's conclusion inspired a final outpouring of fervency. By April 1783, Mordecai Sheftall was able to return to a newly liberated Savannah from his temporary haven in Philadelphia. The letter he wrote his son Sheftall on the occasion of the American (and French) victory over Great Britain remarked in celebratory fashion on what had just been achieved. The elder Sheftall looked forward to the ascendancy of new possibilities in the just-born American republic:
   What my feelings are on the Occasion is Easier Immagined, than
   described, for it must be supposed that Every real well wisher to
   his Country must feel himself happy, to have lived to see this
   longe and bloody Context, brot to so happy an houre more Especially
   as we have obetained our Independence, instead of those threats, of
   bringing us with submission to the foot of that throne, whose
   Greatest mercies to America has been nothing but one Continued
   Scene of Cruelty of which you as well as my self have Experienced
   our shares, But thanks to the almighty it is now at an end, of
   which happy Event I sincerely Congratulate you and all my freinds,
   as an intier new Scene will open it self, and we have the world to
   begin Againe. (92)


As Jonathan D. Sarna has written, increasingly favorable conditions in the aftermath of the war allowed Jews "to believe that they were witnessing the birth of a new age." (93) Whether "loyalty to a new homeland" can be said to have "supplanted the hope of a return to the holy land," as historian Frederic Copie Jaher argues, is still an open question. (94) The period immediately following the Revolution did, after all, present many challenges to the new nation's still tiny minority of Jews, including wild allegations on the part of Federalists that Jewish "foreigners" aligned with revolutionary forces in France had sought to commit acts of sedition calculated to destroy the nascent United States. (95) The pursuit and achievement of American independence, however, had equipped the members of the nation's tiny Jewish minority to think of themselves as vocal participants rather than as carefully silent outsiders.

What Sheftall's "intier new Scene" would actually consist of was anybody's guess. What mattered for the time being was that it replaced what had rapidly developed, in the years since 1775, into a "Continued Scene of Cruelty." For Mordecai Sheftall, the war had established only one fact: British rule (not to mention the war itself) had proven itself equivalent to a form of punishment. The closing of that scene, like the closing of so many previous scenes in the history of the Jews, was itself an occasion for celebration. As Sheftall reminded his son that the "Holliday" of Passover--an annual celebration of Jewish survival against great odds--was around the corner, he was clearly casting his lot with the new nation. What was also evident from his letter was that while Jews had by no means transcended the need to be vigilant and highly mindful of public sentiment on the question of their loyalty and on myriad other subjects, in their own communications with one another, as well as in defense of their wider reputation, the time for reticence had passed. The "cathartic event" of the Revolution, as Jack P. Greene describes it, had "at last enabled men to reject the oppressive social models on which they had long depended." (96) In other words, it freed their tongues to speak unhesitatingly on a range of subjects. Within this new context, as Jaher suggests, "citizenship took priority over creed, modernity over history, and diaspora patriotism over Judaic messianism." (97)

Thus, when the patriotic Jews of New York sought permission in 1784 to return to the synagogue they had abandoned eight years earlier in flight from the invading British, they felt no compunction in asserting in their letter to Governor Clinton that though their society was "but small when compared with other religious societies," they could "flatter themselves that none ha[d] manifested a more zealous attachment to the sacred cause of America in the late war with Great Britain." (98) Their claim certainly had some validity to it, but its unequivocal grandiosity and its deliberate inattention to the fact that some members of the New York congregation had, in fact, remained in the city and supported the British showed just how bold these Jews were willing to be in their public pronouncements. They were ready, as Howard B. Rock suggests, to be seen as "adept politicians [and] loyal republican citizens." (99) Later that same year, the Revolutionary War financier Haym Salomon issued his famous reply to Miers Fisher's indictment of the Philadelphia Jews. Seeking to deflect attention from his own wartime practice of Toryism, Fisher claimed, as Jacob Rader Marcus puts it, to be "protecting the people against the exactions of Jewish brokers." (100) Signing off as "A Jew Broker," Salomon--whose tenuous grasp of written English had likely necessitated some consultation with the Independent Gazette's editor Eleazer Oswald--went on the verbal offensive and fearlessly deployed his Jewishness as a point of pride. In any other place, Salomon wrote, men like Fisher might think that their prejudices could go unnoticed. However, in a "free country" like the United States, he observed, one had to assume that the members of the trampled-upon minority would have recourse to speaking firmly in their defense. (101)

(1.) Jonas Phillips to Gumpel Samson, July 28, 1776, American Jewish Archives, 27 (November 1975), 130-132. On the assumption that his letter might be intercepted by the British blockade of North American ports, Phillips wrote the letter in Yiddish (despite his admitted lack of facility with that language) and sent it by way of the Dutch colony of St. Eustatius. His fears were warranted; the letter was seized by a British patrol in the Caribbean and never did reach its intended recipient.

(2.) At the beginning of 1776, the Continental Army and the various colonial militias at that time comprised approximately 20,000 men-at-arms. Short-term enlistments and a high rate of desertion had depleted that figure considerably by July of that year.

(3.) Phillips was a strong and consistent advocate of the American cause. In 1770, he was one of ten Jewish signatories to a nonimportation pledge in New York. Well ahead of the British occupation of that city, he had moved his business to Philadelphia, arguing before his fellow members of Congregation Shearith Israel, "[It] were better that the Congregation should die in the cause of liberty than to live and submit to the impositions of an arrogant government." (See N. Taylor Phillips, "Family History of the Reverend David Mendes Machado," in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society Volume 2/1894, 76.) Once the conflict began, even though he was over the age of 40, Phillips served in Captain John Linton's Philadelphia militia. (See Samuel Rezneck, cited below, 59.)

(4.) Jacob Rader Marcus, United States Jewry, 1776-1985 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989), 32.

(5.) Edith Gelles, ed., The Letters of Abigaill Levy Franks (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), xxxix.

(6.) The letters of several Jewish merchant families other than the Franks family come to mind, including correspondence of the extended Gratz, Gomez, Hays, and Levy families. Much of this correspondence is available in the collections of the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Jewish Archives. Published collections would include Jacob Rader Marcus' American Jewry Documents: Eighteenth Century (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1959) and the Lyons Collection from the American Jewish Historical Society (Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, Vols. 21 and 27-1913 and 1920, respectively). Many of the letters examined and cited in this essay can be found in a special bicentennial issue of American Jewish Archives 27 (November 1975).

(7.) Jonathan D. Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 34.

(8.) Richard Brilliant, in Facing the New World: Jewish Portraits in Colonial and Federal America, eds. Richard Brilliant and Ellen Smith (New York: The Jewish Museum, 1997), 10.

(9.) Brilliant, Facing the New World, 8.

(10.) Eli Faber, A Time for Planting: The First Migration, 1654-1820 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 102.

(11.) Several historians have investigated the significance of the American Revolution from a Jewish perspective. Jacob Rader Marcus' Colonial American Jew and United States Jewry (see citations, below) offer detailed views of the individual Jews who played a role in the conflict, as well as an interpretation of the war's overall effect upon the Jewish community. Jonathan D. Sarna's book American Judaism (pages 31-41; see citation, above) and essay entitled "The Democratization of American Judaism" (New Essays in American Jewish History, eds. Pamela S. Nadell, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Lance J. Sussman, Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 2010, 95-108) offer nuanced readings of the cultural transformation brought on by the conflict and its aftermath. Samuel Rezneck's Unrecognized Patriots: The Jews in the American Revolution (see citation, below) is the only full-length monograph on the Jewish experience of the Revolution, but there are several complete biographies of Jewish participants in the war, including those of Aaron Lopez, David Franks (both volumes are cited below) and Mordecai Sheftall (Mordecai Sheftall: Jewish Revolutionary Patriot, by B.H. Levy, Atlanta: Georgia Historical Society, 1999). The following histories of particular Jewish communities also contain sections on the Revolutionary War: Barnett A. Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1905); Herbert Tobias Ezekiel and Gaston Lichtenstein, The History of the Jews of Richmond (Richmond: Ezekiel, 1917); and Henry Samuel Morais, The Jews of Philadelphia: Their History from the Earliest Settlements to the Present Time (Philadelphia: Levytype, 1894). Another valuable source on the subject is the book Jews and the Founding of the Republic, eds. Jonathan D. Sarna, Benny Kraut, and Samuel K. Joseph (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College), 1985.

(12.) Michael Kramer, "The Wretched Refuse of Jewish American Literary History," Studies in Jewish American Literature, Vol. 31, No. 1 (January 2012), 62.

(13.) Sarna, American Judaism, 32.

(14.) Howard B. Rock, Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World: 1654-1865 (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 91.

(15.) Isaac Seixas to Aaron Lopez, March 31, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 33.

(16.) Marcus, United States Jewry, 46; Colonial American Jew, 1Z49.

(17.) Richard Morris, in Jews and the Founding of the Republic, 16.

(18.) Nicole Eustace, Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 436.

(19.) Sarna, American Judaism, 31.

(20.) American Jewish Archives Volume 27, Issue 2 (November 1975), 164-165. Several historians have told the story of Mordecai and Sheftall Sheftall's record of service to the American military effort, including Mordecai Sheftall's biographer, B.H. Levy (see footnote 11, above). Both men served as commissaries to the American army. They were captured during the British occupation of Savannah and held as prisoners of war aboard the British ship Nancy. As early as the fall of 1775, the British and their Loyalist allies contemptuously classified the Sheftall father and son as "liberty people." Their experience is documented in Marcus' American Jewry Documents: Eighteenth Century, 232-234 and 237-241. Mordecai Sheftall's first epistolary account of his capture and imprisonment--a letter he sent to his wife, Frances, in January 1, 1779--placed a calm emphasis on his humane treatment at the hands of his captors, but he may have been going out of his way in this instance to avoid alarming his wife (see AJA 27/2, 154-155).

(21.) Jon Butler, Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 200), 28.

(22.) Sarna, American Judaism, 28.

(23.) Marcus, United States Jewry, 32.

(24.) Edith Gelles, xxvi.

(25.) David Shields, "Cosmopolitanism and the Anglo-Jewish Elite in British North America," in A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America, ed. Frank Shuffelton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 149.

(26.) Ibid, 143.

(27.) June 15, 1735. Franks family letters, American Jewish Historical Society, Box 1, Folder 1. Abigaill Levy Franks' letters are also available in published form in the Edith Gelles collection mentioned above, as well as in Leo Hershkowitz and Isidore S. Meyer, eds., Letters of the Franks Family (1733-1748) (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 1968).

(28.) June 9, 1734. Franks family letters, American Jewish Historical Society, Box 1, Folder 1.

(29.) December 12, 1735. Franks family letters, American Jewish Historical Society, Box 1, Folder 1.

(30.) June 7, 1743. Franks family letters, American Jewish Historical Society, Box 1, Folder 2.

(31.) Ibid.

(32.) May 7, 1733. Franks family letters, American Jewish Historical Society, Box 1, Folder 1.

(33.) Shields, 149.

(34.) Jacob Rader Marcus speculates that Seixas had been rebuffed in his attempt at courting Lopez's daughter. See American Jewry Documents, 21.

(35.) Marcus, American Jewry Documents, 21.

(36.) Eustace, Passion Is the Gale, 15.

(37.) Jacob Rader Marcus, in Sidney Meshulam Fish, Barnard and Michael Gratz: Their Lives and Times (New York: University Press of America, 1994), i.

(38.) Fish, Barnard and Michael Gratz, 144.

(39.) Arthur Hertzberg, The Jews in America: Four Centuries of an Uneasy Encounter: A History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 66.

(40.) Laura Arnold Leibman, Messianism, Secrecy, and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2012), 2.

(41.) Ibid, 301.

(42.) Jack P. Greene, Imperatives, Behaviors, and Identities: Essays in Early American Cultural History (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992), 144.

(43.) January 12, 1770, reel 105, Gratz-Joseph Papers (held at the American Jewish Archives).

(44.) M.G. to Matthew Anderson (Deputy to William Aylett, Commissary General of Virginia), Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine (January 1920), 1:45.

(45.) Fish, Barnard and Michael Gratz, 144.

(46.) Stanley F. Chyet, Lopez of Newport: Colonial American Merchant Prince (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1970), 155.

(47.) Marcus, United States Jewry, 50.

(48.) Aaron Lopez to Joseph Anthony, February 3, 1779, AJA 27, 156-159.

(49.) Brilliant, Facing the New World, 2; Chyet, Lopez of Newport, 167.

(50.) Mark Abbott Stern, David Franks: Colonial Merchant (University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), 120. Franks' written communication with his brothers Moses and Naphtali, who worked for the London firm to whom he had advanced money in order to supply the British prisoners of war, became the basis for the case that was brought against him by Pennsylvania radicals. Marcus describes Franks as "a political football in state politics" (American Jewry Documents, 242) as radicals and moderate Whigs sought control over governmental policy and the prosecution of alleged Tories.

(51.) David Franks to Henry Laurens, October 28, 1778, Papers of the Continental Congress, Reel 78, part 9, fols. 189-190.

(52.) Benjamin Levy, May 25 1775, Levy Family Papers (P-120), American Jewish Historical Society.

(53.) January n, 1778. Gratz Family Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-8, Box 1, Folder 8.

(54.) Born in New York in 1739, Moses Michael Hays spent several years as a merchant in Newport before fleeing to Boston ahead of the British occupation of that city. While still in Newport in 1776, he made a principled stand in defense of his reputation as an adherent of the American cause, testifying forthrightly not only to his attachment "to the rights and Liberalities of the colonies" but also to the moral failings of his accusers, who, without identifying themselves, had alleged that he was failing to conform to the American boycott on trade with England (see AJA 27/2., 120-122).

(55.) September 21, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 33.

(56.) Ibid.

(57.) April 28, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-n, Box 14, Folder 34.

(58.) See pages 36-37 for a discussion of Mears' experience during the attack on Norwalk.

(59.) July 14, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, Newport Historical Association.

(60.) November 24, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 34.

(61.) July 2, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-n, Box 14, Folder 36.

(62.) AJA 27/2, 184-185.

(63.) New York had been under partial and then complete British occupation since the battles fought there in September of 2776.

(64.) Jacob Rader Marcus, "Light on Early Connecticut Jewry," American Jewish Archives (January 1949), 30.

(65.) Aaron Lopez to Joseph Anthony, November 2,1781, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-n, Box 14, Folder 37 (see Chyet, 156).

(66.) Abraham Mendes to Aaron Lopez, November 28, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-n, Box 14, Folder 36.

(67.) David Lopez, Jr. to Aaron Lopez, August 3, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 36.

(68.) Ibid.

(69.) Eustace, Passion Is the Gale, 437.

(70.) AJA 27/2, 155-159

(71.) Samuel Rezneck, Unrecognized Patriots: The Jews in the American Revolution (New York: Greenwood Press, 1976), 6.

(72.) The Sheftall and Franks memoirs can be found in Jacob Rader Marcus, ed., Memoirs of American Jews, 1775-1865 (New York: Ktav, 1974).

(73.) For an account of Jewish Toryism during the Revolution, see Cecil Roth's "Some Jewish Loyalists in the American War of Independence, in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 38 (1948), 81-97. Jacob Rader Marcus' United States Jewry refers to the experiences of a handful of Jewish Loyalist fighters, including Barrak Hays of New York, who began the war as a member of the (Whig) colonial militia but later switched sides and served as "chief of scouts" to the British (55). The story of Newport's Isaac Touro, who, while he was not an intentional combatant, ended up dying in an American attack upon the Tory fort where he had taken shelter on Long Island, was made famous in a speech given by Edmund Burke in Parliament (see Roth, 91).

(74.) Rezneck, Unrecognized Patriots, 46. While Lushington's company did contain an unusually high number of Jews (militia companies were comprised of people from the same districts, and Lushington's district of Charleston happened to be the one where most of that city's Jews lived), they hardly comprised a majority of its members, nor were they the only Jews from Charleston to serve during the war.

(75.) Ibid, 47.

(76.) Francis Salvador's uncle Joseph Salvador had been one of the main sponsors of the 1753 "Jew Bill," which was passed, and then repealed, by the British Parliament.

(77.) AJA 27/2, 125-127.

(78.) Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina, 76.

(79.) James William Hagy, This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993), 36.

(80.) Levy Family Papers, 1710-1835, American Jewish Historical Society (P-120). Moses Levy served two years in the militia as his unit's secretary, and his name is attached as a signing witness to James Read's January 1776 commission as a first lieutenant. Jacob Rader Marcus asserts that he crossed the Delaware with Washington's forces in December 1776 (see United States Jewry, 416). A 1776 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he was admitted to the bar in 1778, and he would go on to serve as a presiding judge in Philadelphia from 1822 to 1825.

(81.) The "Flying Camp of Associators of Pennsylvania" was one of several militia units from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey that fought in the 1776 campaigns, including the battles that occurred in and around New York City.

(82.) AJA 27/2, 137.

(83.) Greene, Understanding the American Revolution: Issues and Actors (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995), 64.

(84.) AJA 27/2, 137-138.

(85.) Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 36.

(86.) October 21 and October 24, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 34.

(87.) October 24, 1779, Aaron Lopez Papers, American Jewish Historical Society, P-11, Box 14, Folder 34.

(88.) According to Jacob Rader Marcus, David Lopez, Jr. manufactured candle boxes in the service of Aaron Lopez's production of spermaceti (Colonial, 598).

(89.) AJA 27/2, 169-171.

(90.) AJA 27/2, 163-164.

(91.) AJA 27/2, 164-165.

(92.) AJA 27/2, 209-210.

(93.) Jonathan D. Sarna, "The Impact of the American Revolution on American Jews," reprinted in Jonathan D. Sarna, Benny Kraut, and Samuel K. Joseph, eds., Jews and the Founding of the Republic (New York: Markus Weiner, 1985), 27.

(94.) Frederic Copie Jaher, Jews and the Nation: Revolution, Emancipation, State Formation, and the Liberal Paradigm in France and America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 156.

(95.) Frederic Copie Jaher, A Scapegoat in the New Wilderness: The Origins and Rise of Anti-Semitism in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 130-137.

(96.) Greene, Understanding, 172.

(97.) Jaher, Jews and the Nation, 168.

(98.) AJA 27/2, 220.

(99.) Rock, 91.

(100.) Jacob Rader Marcus, American Jewry Documents, 41.

(101.) Ibid, 43.
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