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Dolla’ Dolla’ Bill: One Writer Debunks the Dollar Bill Myth

Submitted by schmooze on Wednesday, 10 February 20102 Comments

Jews have been known to wear the Star of David around their necks, emblazon it on their flag, and even tattoo it on their skin. But do all Jews, or even all Americans, carry around this Jewish symbol in their wallets?

Take a look at the back of the dollar bill. Above the eagle’s head are thirteen stars, representing the original colonies, arranged in…that’s right, a Jewish star! Now turn it upside down and look at the eagle’s tail feathers: nine feathers, four on each side of a longer one. Could that be a Hanukkah menorah?

The story says that these symbols were added to the Great Seal of the United States, and by extension the dollar bill, to honor Haym Salomon. Salomon was a Jewish businessman who immigrated to America shortly before the Revolutionary War and played a significant role in selling the bonds that paid for the Continental Army’s operations. The founding fathers of the United States (and George Washington himself) wanted to honor Salomon for helping finance the independence of his adopted land. Salomon said he wanted nothing, but when Washington persisted, he asked for the stars to be arranged in a Star of David to honor the Jewish contribution to the war effort.

Unfortunately for lovers of National Treasure-style conspiracy theories, there is no evidence that this story occurred. While the stars are in fact arranged in a hexagram (the geometric name of the Star of David), the official State Department document describing the history of the seal makes no mention of any Jewish symbolism. Darlene Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which manufactures paper money, says there is no intentional Jewish symbolism on the dollar bill.

So why has this myth captured the imagination of American Jews? Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun professor of American Jewish History and Life at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., says it has helped American Jews proudly connect themselves to their country’s formative era.
“Since very few Jews actually have Revolutionary roots in the U.S., the story of Haym Salomon helped to legitimize Jews in this country; it proved that they too had played a ‘major’ role in America’s founding,” he says. “At a time when Jews were reviled as immigrants and latecomers to America, this was very important.” Beth Wenger, Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the forthcoming book History Lessons: The Invention of American Jewish Heritage, agrees. “The Haym Salomon myth has persisted because it provides a way for Jews to demonstrate their patriotism and, in particular, it places a Jew in a pivotal role during the moment the nation was created,” she
explains. “In other words, the Haym Salomon myth establishes Jews as part of the organic fabric of the country, and offers ‘proof’ of their long-standing loyalty.” So what is the Jewish star doing on the dollar bill, if not to honor Haym Salomon?

According to The Secret Symbols of the Dollar Bill, a book by British astrologist David Ovason, the hexagram arrangement of the stars connects to other elements of the bill. The hexagram has six points, corresponding to the number of letters in the word “dollar.” The seven interior spaces of the hexagram correspond to the number of letters in “America.” However, the official explanations of the Great Seal’s symbolism do not answer this question.

So, when you pull out those crumpled dollar bills from your pocket to pay for that nonfat soy latte, take a peek at that Star of David on the back. Just remember, it has nothing to do with Haym Salomon.

benjamin GOLDBERG

2 Comments »

  • Ralph Adamo said:

    Bejamin Goldberg, you write as though you have done research on the origins of the symbols of the dollar bill. But you have not done any genuine research or study, and it shows. Furthermore, the point of your article seems to be a feeble attempt to denigrate Jews. Given your name, I can thus accurately describe you as a self-loathing Jew. I can further conclude that you are are Leftist. Do I have your number? You know that I do.

    You know nothing about Hyam Salomon or his role in American history, as you have obviously done no study, serious reading, or even baseline Internet research.

    First of all, if you had done any serious reading, you would have readily learned that many of the founding fathers held Jewish people in great favor, including Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and many more. For example, President John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams agreed with Alexander Hamilton, writing separately and favorably of Jews and a Jewish state long before it was fashionable in a letter to Mordecai Manuel Noah, America’s first Jewish consul, founder of New York University, and his day’s most famous Jew. “I will insist that the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation,” John Adams wrote to F. A. Van der Kemp, a Dutch-born Enlightenment thinker, condemning the anti-Semitism of Enlightenment writer Voltaire. “If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilization the nations. … [Jews] are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”

    Consider the following excerpt from a recent article, Obama’s Historical Chutzpah by Charles C. Johnson; May 31, 2012:

    “President James Madison also studied Hebrew, electing to spend an additional, post-graduate year to focus on it. During the Revolution, Madison turned to Haym Salomon, a Polish-born financier who offered loans well below market rate to members of the Continental Congress. Writing to fellow Virginian Edmund Randolph in September 1772, he praised Salomon’s generosity: “The kindness of our little friend in Front Street (Salomon) near the coffee-house is a fund which will preserve me from extremities, but I never resort to it without mortification as he obstinately rejects all recompense.” Salomon was captured by the British and condemned to death, but he escaped by bribing the guards with gold.”

    “Salomon wasn’t alone among Jewish patriots. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Jewish finance underwrote much of the cost of the American Revolution, something the unjustly neglected President Calvin Coolidge noted with favor in a dedication of the Jewish Community Centre on May 3, 1925. Their generosity, often never repaid, came because “the Jewish faith is predominately the faith of liberty,” Coolidge declared. “From the beginnings of the conflict between colonies and the mother country, they were overwhelmingly on the side of the rising revolution.” He listed the merchants—overwhelmingly Jewish—who cast their lot with the colonists in signing the non-importation resolution of 1765, also known as the Stamp Act, which directly taxed American colonists by restricting their freedom of commerce. “Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy,” Coolidge said. “[T]he patriots who laid the foundation of this Republic drew their faith from the Bible. … Every inheritance of the Jewish people, every teaching of their secular history and religious experience, draws them powerfully to the side of charity, liberty, and progress.”” http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/101230/obamas-historical-chutzpah

    With respect to the whether or not there are references to Jewish symbols on the dollar bill, such as the Star of David and the Menorah, the truth will never be known. And it certainly won’t be known by some bureaucrat at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

    Thus, Benjamin Goldberg, you have no evidence to conclude one way or the other about whether or not the symbols on the back of the dollar bill were inspired by Jewish symbols. Of course, we could always refer to the most “authoritative” and “supreme” source on the planet to find the answer, meaning Snopes.com. But the problem with Snopes, is that the website is run by Leftists, much like you, Benjamin Goldberg. And Leftists hate the truth.

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