The American Revolution and the Jews

While some Jews fought, others suffered at the hands of the British.

The role of Jews in the events leading up to the American Revolution is largely unrecognized, given that they represented only a tiny percent of the overall population. Like other colonial Americans, Jews’ loyalties were divided, with a sizeable majority favoring the Patriot vision of an independent America.

When revolutionary fervor grew after Britain’s imposition of the Stamp Act in 1765, Jewish merchants’ signatures appeared on the various non-importation resolutions adopted by individual colonies. Like other Americans, they opposed the power of the British Parliament to tax the colonies. But some Jews probably had mixed feelings, given the freedoms they enjoyed under British rule.

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