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Flora, William (fl. 1775–1818), war hero and businessman, was born probably in the vicinity of Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of free black parents, whose names are unknown. On the eve of the American Revolution fewer than 2,000 free blacks lived in Virginia. The colony’s statutes forbade the manumission of slaves except those who exposed an incipient slave uprising. Consequently, Flora, who was known as “Billy,” was probably descended from Africans who arrived in Virginia before 1640, when blacks were treated like indentured servants rather than slaves....

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Haym Salomon. Sketch by C. Noar. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-148-GW-1124).

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Salomon, Haym (1740–06 January 1785), New York financier and patriot, was apparently born in Lissa, Poland, of Jewish parents. He traveled widely in his youth, becoming fluent in most European languages and acquiring considerable business skills before coming to the colonies. Despite the tradition that he left Poland in 1772 at the time of the first partition, he may have migrated as early as 1764 or perhaps as late as 1776. Most likely, he arrived in New York City shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution and soon established himself as a successful commission merchant. While there is no evidence of his participation in prerevolutionary political affairs, he immediately cast his lot with the patriots once hostilities began. Warmly recommended by Leonard Gansevoort, the Albany patriot, as a strong supporter of the American cause, Salomon, in June 1776, offered his services as sutler to the American forces under General ...