Late in 1773, Francis Salvador, a young English Jew of Portuguese descent, set sail from London to Charleston, South Carolina. Swept up in the excitement leading to the American Revolution, Salvador identified at once with the patriot cause. In December 1774, at age 27, he was elected to the First Provincial Congress of South Carolina as one of ten deputies from Ninety Six, the colony’s second most populous district. Thus Salvador became the first professing Jew in America to serve in a legislative assembly.
He is also the first Jew known to have died in the Revolution. Before daylight on August 1, 1776, his militia was ambushed by Tories and Indians hidden behind a fence near the town of Seneca. Salvador was mortally wounded and scalped. An eyewitness reported that he remained conscious long enough to ask whether his unit had achieved victory, shook hands with the commander, and bade him farewell.