II. Information on the Greek Uprising Reaches America: Publications

B. Printed Materials on Greece and the Progress of the War of Independence

B1. Address of the Committee Appointed at a Public Meeting Held in Boston, December 19, 1823, for the Relief of the Greeks, to Their Fellow Citizens. [BOSTON]: Press of the North American Review [1824] (Pamphlet)

The committee appointed by the meeting, assembled Dec. 19th, for the Relief of the Greeks, for the purpose of addressing the public on this subject, now solicits your attention. In discharging this duty, we feel ourselves called upon, at the risk of repeating facts of public notoriety, to state those circumstances and considerations, which seem to us to dictate to the American people the propriety of an earnest expression of their sympathy, and of a generous exertion of their benevolence, in the cause of the Greeks.

That people, it is well known, has now been, in most of its provinces, subjected to the Turkish government, for nearly four hundred years. We apprehend that, notwithstanding the length of time, for which the Turkish domination has been established in Greece, the majority of the community is not yet fully alive to all the misery, which is implied in the political relation of the Greeks to their Turkish masters. Such is the similarity between civilized nations in manners, character, language, and more than all, religion; and such is the effect of the civilized policy of Europe in putting conquerors and conquered on the same footing, that the permanent subjection of a province or a state in Europe, to a foreign European power, though ever followed by murmurs and alienated affections, seldom presents any spectacle of national disaster and woe. It is for this rea-son, perhaps, that we are apt to think too lightly of the subjection of Greece to the Ottoman yoke, regarding that country as in somewhat the same condition as Ireland, since its conquest by England, or Poland, since its partition by the northern powers. The circumstances of the two cases are, however, widely different. The Greeks have been kept from mingling with their Turkish conquerors, by several causes, all natural, and some most honorable. Their languages are different, not only as the languages of many states of Europe differ, which are yet of the same stock; but different to such a degree, as to cut off almost the possibility of intercourse between the Greek and his masters. Reflecting men will consider the aggravation of a despotic rule, arising from the want of a common language between subject and master. We will only invite such men to imagine to themselves a peasant in Greece, a country where there are no legal advisers by profession, who having been cruelly oppressed by a Turk, should appear before the Turkish judge, to demand his rights, with no medium of communication but the secretary of the latter. Another important circumstance of dissimilarity exists between Greeks and Turks, in their respective national character. The Turks are still but little above the state of barbarism, in which they issued from the deserts of Tartary. They are strangers to the improvements of civilized life, not wholly from ignorance of them, but partly from superstitious attachment to their inherited manners, and still more from hatred to the Christians, among whom those improvements exist. From the absence of any law, there is no security to property. While the Greek is indiscriminately pillaged by the Turkish governors, they in their turn are subject to the caprice of those higher in authority than themselves, and all to the despotism of the government. In this manner, the little disposable wealth in the country circulates, not through the natural channels of fair exchange, diffusing private comfort and public improvement in this way, but through the ruinous channel of successive extortions, in which it is lawlessly amassed to be final-ly squandered in the barbarous luxuries of the governors or of the Porte. Hence this country, so highly favored by nature, is wholly destitute of artificial comforts and improvements; without the art of printing; without roads, consequently without any vehicles for island trade; without social institutions of any kind; without any means of securely investing property. What makes this state of things the more oppressive is, that the Greeks possess, naturally, a strong aptitude for all these improvements, and are not only kept in barbarism, but in a barbarism of which they are conscious and keenly aware. Lastly, the religion of the Greeks renders them victims of oppression, in the tenderest and most sacred point. The original alternative, which the barbarous warriors of the crescent proposed to the vanquished, was death to the koran. Wearied by the heroic constancy, with which Christian provinces had, in this terrible alternative, held fast their faith, the Ottoman princes, in time, relaxed from this Tartarian rigor, and allowed the inhabitants of vanquished Christian nations to ransom their lives. On this footing, the conquest of Greece was made; and the name of Rayas, given by the Turks to the Greeks, imports, those whose lives are ransomed from the sword. This ransom is annually renewed in the form of a tax on every male Christian above a certain age. It need not be urged, what a feature of barbarity the taxes of a despotic government acquire, from being considered as the fair ransom of the forfeited life of the subject; and yet this odious tax is but a small item in those imposed upon the Greeks.

By the several causes we have mentioned, all amalgamation between the Greeks and their masters is prevented, and the latter hold the country by a military occupation alone, and that of the most cruel kind. Nineteen-twentieths of the soil are the property of the Turks, and the miserable Greek proprietors are fatally harassed in the possession of the poor remnant. It is an habitual resort of the Turkish governor, in order to increase his wealth, to let loose a band of robbers upon any particular village, of which he covets the possession. The wretched inhabitants understand the source of the evil, and that they have no protection to hope from the arm of power. Their only resource is to sell to their oppressor, for a trifle, their own lands, and even the payment of this trifle is often withheld on account of a pretended arrearage of taxes. The poor peasant, thus stripped of his land, has nothing left but to work upon it as a serf, for the wretched compensation which his tyrant is willing to bestow. It is in this form, under the name of chiflics, that a large proportion of the farms in Greece have been wrested from their owners. In addition to this comprehensive despotism, which blasts all the germs of social improvement, the Greeks are exposed to the grossest violations of personal right. Their houses are always exposed to military quarterings; nor is any other provision made for the march of a Turkish army, than to designate the Greek villages, on which it shall be quartered. To have acquired wealth in any considerable amount is a crime usually expiated with life alone; while the most sacred relations of domestic life are continually trampled on, by a tyranny as licentious and depraved as it is absolute.-Such is a faint sketch of the despotism, which having for four hundred years weighed upon the Greeks, had grown into a burden too grievous to be borne. Life had lost its value, and death its terrors, under such a yoke. The state of Europe, moreover, for the last fifty years had carried many Euro-pean travellers [sic] to Greece, and brought many Greeks either as navigators, merchants, or students, into the countries of Western Europe; and the horrid contrast of the situation of their country, with that of the rest of the Christian world, has more and more forced itself upon their feelings. It is now three years since they rose in their desperation, and appealed to arms, to Christian nations, and to God. They rose in the simple energy of oppressed, insulted, outraged man; their great resource that they had nothing more to lose; their strong encouragement that no extremity could sink them lower. With little previous concert, the fame spread from province to province, and from island to island; and in the space of three months the whole of Greece was in revolt. The fortunes of the war are before the world. It has raged three years. The two first years terminated with the total defeat of the Ottoman plan of campaign, both by sea and land, and left the open country throughout the south of Greece, and several of the most important fortresses, in the hands of the Greeks. For the present year, down to the middle of October, as far as our accounts go, the want of success, on the part of the Turks, has been still more complete. They have not been able to penetrate to the great theatre of the war; and this campaign, like that of 1822, has closed with the disgrace and exile, and probably the death of the Turkish commander in chief. A still more brilliant success has crowned the naval efforts of the Greeks. Possessed in time of peace of a commercial marine of six hundred sail of vessels of all kinds, all of which were more or less powerfully armed, the Greeks have exhibited on the sea a skill and enterprise memorable in the annals of naval warfare. Though unable to meet the Turkish navy in regular battles, three Ottoman ships of the line have been destroyed by the Grecian fire ships, and the Grecian squadrons have been able to keep up a constant communication between the Continent and the islands, and have held several of the Turkish ports in a blockade, which for eighteen months past has been respected by the English and French. In addition to their naval and military exploits, the Greeks have formed a constitution of elective representative government, an institution which carries strength and power in its name, and which has for two years gone into operation, and been administered with a success, that, under the circumstances of the people, demands the highest admiration. It is unnecessary to subjoin, that such success has produced a very general opinion, that the Greeks will finally triumph. The most respectable writers in Europe have avowed this opinion. A writer in the Quarterly Review, a journal of very high authority, and at the same time by no means friendly to revolutionary pretensions, makes use of these expressions, “It now appears extremely probable, (we might indeed we believe use a still stronger expression,) that the Greeks will be able to establish their independence.”

To this opinion, the President of the United States has given great strength in his late Message to Congress, in stating, that, from the facts, which have come to our knowledge, there is good cause to believe, that the Turkish government has forever lost its dominion over the Greeks, and that they will become again an independent nation.

Such then are the efforts, and such the success of Greece, in her struggle, they appealed to the sympathy of Christian nations, and the appeal was everywhere, in Europe, heard and answered. A thought on the state, in which they entered the war, will satisfy all that they must be destitute of arms, munitions, military skill, and money. All these wants, if not supplied, have been diminished by the liberality of the friends of freedom and humanity in Europe. Besides several bands of volunteers, who have entered their service, the numerous societies, which have been formed for their relief in the several parts of Europe, have transmitted large supplies of arms, clothing, and money. The sum of sixty thousand florins was subscribed by the king of Wurtemberg alone, toward the expenses of an armament of volunteers fitted out in Germany for the aid of the Greeks.

But another, and perhaps, more powerful appeal has been made to the benevolent in Europe. The war being peculiarly a war of Mahometanism against Christianity, the Greek and the Christian, wherever he was found, whether in arms or quietly pursuing his occupation, was indiscriminately proscribed. Hence thousands, even without the limits of the theatre of war, could save their lives, only by flying from their homes, in a State of total want. At Constantinople, after the cruel spectacle of the Patriarch hung on Easter day, at the door of his church; and of ladies and children, from the ancient Greek families in the Fanar, torn from their homes, and surrendered to a brutal soldiery in the bazar; thousands of Greeks fled, in the extremest [sic] misery, to the Morea, and the free isles. Throughout the cities of Asia Minor, particularly at Smyrna, the Greeks were shot at, like dogs, by the lawless Janisaries; and European and American merchants established there, were obliged to shut their doors on women who, after wandering for two days without food, and in constant peril of their lives, came to implore a single night's shelter, from pursuit, brutality and death. The only hope of all the Greek population in Asia is, in finding means of escape to those parts of Greece in the power of the Patriots. In the catastrophe of Scio, besides forty one thousand, principally of women and children, sold to slavery; besides twenty five thousand, who had perished with arms in their hands, or were hanged, impaled, burned, or drowned, by the ruthless victors, it is computed that fifteen or twenty thousand succeeded in making their escape to the independent Grecian islands, in a state of total want, and of misery of the most pitiable descript-tion. On this subject, we quote the words of an address of twenty respectable Sciote merchants established at Trieste, made in behalf of their wretched brethren. This address, after stating that the warfare now waged by the Turks, surpasses in horrors of cruelty, whatever is recorded of the ages of darkness, thus proceeds, “Those who, no longer able to endure the intolerable yoke of tyranny, resolved to take up arms, with a determination either to obtain their lawful and just liberty, or end at once their miseries and their life, have suffered indeed many and great evils. But then it has not been their unhappy lot to see their temples profaned, and their children and wives dishonored, to be themselves dragged into captivity, and to become the sport of the insolent rage of their rulers. These are horrors, which have been reserved for the submissive and unoffending; for those who, trembling at their own defenseless situation, when exposed to the cruelty of the tyrant, determined to bear in silence the weight of oppression; for those, who not only took no part in the operations of the insurgents, but who, in order to give the strongest proof of their allegiance and subordination, surrendered themselves into the hands of their masters, and as a confirmation of their submission, went voluntarily to prison, where they were treated with every indignity and cruelty. Nay, they even deprived themselves of food, in order to maintain those very persons, who were soon to become their executioners. They consumed all their property to enrich their plunderers; they stripped themselves to clothe their oppressors. It was upon these wretched victims, (amongst whom the inhabitants of Cyprus and Scio were preeminent in misery,) that those Turkish beasts in human form rushed, with the fury of tigers, attacking them with fire and sword, without distinction of class, family, or age, guilt, or innocence, slaughtering unmercifully and indiscriminately, from the magistrates of the people, the arch, bishops, and the archons, to the lowest menial, so that the blood of the Christians flowed in torrents, dyeing the very soil of Scio. It was indeed a sight too horrible to be endured, when men beheld their wives led into captivity, their chaste daughters shamelessly dishonored on the highways, and in the streets, by the vilest of the multitude, their innocent infants snatched from their arms, and dashed upon the ground. Many women, unable to endure so shocking a calamity, threw themselves from the windows of their houses; others cast themselves into the sea, with their children, choosing rather to be themselves the destroyers of their offspring, than to leave them to perish, by the barbarity of the enemy.*** Out of more than a hundred thousand inhabitants, there now remain but twelve hundred on the island. The greater part of the men and of the aged women were destroyed. The younger women were made slaves, and carried into Asia and else, where, to be exposed to the insolence and cruelty of barbarians. And when the consuls of the different European powers, resident at Scio, deceived by the insidious promises of the Capudan Pacha, had persuaded the fugitives to return, and had delivered up those of the Greeks, who had sought the protection of their flag, these also shared the fate of their brethren.”

This address then proceeds to describe the sufferings of those, who made their escape to the mountains, wandering without food or water, or any other necessary of life. Of these, some succeeded in reaching the coast, and embarking for the various islands in the possession of the Greeks, and some for Trieste and Ancona. Of those, who escaped to Trieste, the address thus speaks.

The clemency and humanity of our great and magnanimous emperor [of Austria] have afforded them an asylum. But scarcely had their harassed spirits recovered a little from their pressing dan-ger, when they began to feel more acutely the full weight of their calamity; one perceiving that he had lost a son, another a brother, another a father, another his wife, or children. Naked, they knew no one who should clothe them; perishing with hunger they doubted if any one [sic] would take compassion on them. Our Greek community in this town, small and poor as it is, made generous efforts for their relief, and supplied their immediate wants, in order to prevent their dying on the spot; but owing to the great number of fugitives from all parts, who had taken refuge here, and on account of the poverty of the community, it was no longer able to raise sufficient to support them. Thus many families of the upper and middle classes of merchants, brought up to abundance, and all the conveniences of life, are compelled to take up their abode in the roofs of houses, are ready to perish for want of clothing, and ashamed to go abroad, have no beds whereon to give a little rest to their weary frames, are destitute of necessary daily food, scarcely supplying the urgent wants of nature, with the coarsest bread. Here are old men, objects of honor and esteem, worn away not only by the weakness of age, but by want of the common necessaries of life; widows miserably bereaved, lamenting bitterly that they have escaped from death, which would have spared them the weight of their present calamity. Absorbed in the contemplation of their wretchedness, no longer possessing their substantial houses, they wander about not knowing whither to go, and pining with hunger. Such is the extreme of misery, that on many of both sexes, who had escaped the flurry of the Turks, the violence of the shock has produced insanity and death itself. And if the compassion of the benevolent, both of our own nation, and among foreigners, be not excited on their behalf, despair and a miserable death will be the termination of the calamities of the survivors.

Such is the condition of those of the Greeks, who have made their escape to foreign countries. To convey an accurate idea to the public of the horrors exercised on those, who were surprised by the Turkish power too suddenly to escape, we feel it our duty to enter into a few details of a nature almost too painful to be read, but of which the Chris-tian world ought not to be uninformed. It is well known that a few weeks after the commencement of the revolt in the Morea, the Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the church of Greece and of Russia, was torn from his altar, on Easter day, and hung in his robes at his own door. We quote the following sentence from the Jafta, or inscription which, according to the forms of justice in Turkey, is attached to the breast of the person executed, to set forth his crime: “Instead of having prevented or punished the revolt, the Patriarch has, in all probability, taken an active part in it, so that it is almost impossible, that the whole Greek nation, although it may contain innocent individuals, should not be totally destroyed, and exposed to the wrath of God.” In these impious terms, and on this impious occasion, the decree of extermination against five millions of Christians was pronounced. The infuriated Janisaries constituted themselves its executioners. According to an extract, which we have seen from a work published at Leipsic, by an eye witness of the scenes, which took place at Constantinople, after the murder of the Patriarch,

One hundred and seventy six of the most respectable Greeks were dragged upon the pavement, till the flesh was torn from their limbs, and they expired. The Janisaries heated the ramrods of their guns red hot and forced them into the bodies of their prisoners; others were blinded by burning irons; and the hands and feet of others exposed to live coals. On one day four thousand bodies were found in the street, the limbs mutilated, and the heads cut off. Some were nailed by their ears to tables; others had burning coals thrust into their mouths, and their flesh corn with hot pincers. A large number were nailed to trees; others were scourged to death; of others the hands and feet were sawn off. Children perished in multitudes by the bayonet. Without the walls of the city, were to be seen several wretches buried alive to the neck, with their mouths kept open by a gag, so that the ants and vermin might creep in.

In these sickening horrors, there is unfortunately nothing inconsistent with the Turkish habits and manners; nothing improbable, at a moment when, according to an expression in an official note of Lord Strangford, the English ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, “the distinction between the innocent and guilty was unknown, and all the Greeks, without exception, were criminals in the eyes of an exasperated populace.” Throughout the Turkish empire, the same horrors were perpetrated. The fate of the island of Cyprus was scarcely less deplorable than that of Scio. Notwithstanding the total absence of every thing like a revolutionary movement in that island, and although a general disarming of the Greeks had taken place, the archbishop was hung at the close of 1821, and most of the Christians of the town of Larnica, the chief place in the island, were massacred. By the month of August, 1822, sixty-two villages had been destroyed; every church in the area of forty miles levelled, and 18,000 Christians put to death. “The Christians were hunted by the Turks,” says a respectable foreign writer, like wild beasts. Several churches were immediately converted into mosques and stables. In the monastery of Panteleimon, the Turkish commandant caused the brethren of the fraternity to be saddled and bridled, like beasts of burden, and traversed the hills, he and his soldiers, thus mounted, till these unfortunate Christians, in many cases, dropped dead with fatigue and merci, less beating.

There is the less difficulty in giving credit to these horrid details, when we call to mind the treatment of the Christian prisoners at Cyprus, when this island was first taken by the Turks, in the year 1570. After a massacre of men in arms to the amount of 20,000, "the aged of both sexes, the women not sent to the slave market, and the children unfit for service, were built up within a wooden pile, in the market place of Nicosia, and burned alive." One of the most shocking features of the present war, is the impious rage, which the Turkish soldiery has every where exhibited against the religion of their victims. The first objects of their fury are the monastery, the church, the altar, the volume of the Scriptures, and the ministers of religion. The most respectable foreign prints, on the credit of the letters from Greece, have related among other atrocities, one, that surpasses almost the bounds of Turkish barbarity. A Greek priest, who bore the name of our Saviour, (a name not unusual in the Greek church,) having fallen into the hands of these monsters was, by them, in derision of his name, nailed to a cross, and after languishing for some hours, covered with pitch and burned alive.

The few facts, we have stated, are sufficient to show the horrors of this warfare, the cruel-ties to which the Christians are exposed, whenever they are within the reach of Turkish power, the number and wants of the fugitives in every part of Greece, in the possession of the Patriots. There is satisfaction in reflecting, that the sympathy of the benevolent has been excited, as widely as the tale of these calamities has circulated. In Odessa and in Trieste, at St. Petersburgh, in all the considerable towns of Germany, in Holland, France, and Switzerland, and in England, societies have been formed for the relief of this appalling amount of human misery. Large sums of money have been forwarded to the principal scenes of action and suffering, and agents sent to Greece to ascertain the most effectual mode of applying the contributions, that have been raised. In the city of London, it has been publicly stated, that the Quakers alone, in that place, raised the sum of £4000, in one week, after receiving the intelligence of the catastrophe of Scio. Our own country, used to be the most prompt in listening to the call of misery, has, as yet, sent nothing to the sufferers of Greece. Our distance from the scene of suffering, our communication with but one port in Turkey, and that distinguished for its hostility to the cause of the Patriots, and the general want of information, are not doubt the reasons why America has so long remained the only Christian country, which has taken no interest in this momentous struggle. At length, however, the public mind is awakened. Two successive appeals to the sympathy of the national legislature have been made by the President of the United States, in his annual addresses to Congress. Our first commercial city, under the lead of one of its first commercial citizens, has evinced the noblest spirit in the cause; and a memorial from the pen of another of her citizens, a civilian, whom to name is to praise, has already gone to Washington, on behalf of the Greeks. The same spirit has been displayed in Philadelphia, and her most eminent citizens have appealed to the people and to the government, in the cause of their suffering fellow men and fellow christians. Other cities and towns in various quarters of the country, and the scientific and literary seminaries, are daily giving proof that the emotion in this cause is universal. In the legislature of Maryland emphatic resolutions have been already introduced, responding to the sentiments of the President's Message; the chief magistrate of South Carolina has expressed himself not less earnestly on the same topic; our own representative in Congress, whose character and talents are the honor of his constituents, and of his country, has laid upon the table of the House an important resolution, which has perhaps already been called up.

Under these circumstances, we rejoice to know that a very general feeling has also been cherished in Boston, in the same good cause, and that we may safely discharge in few words, all that remains of our duty, in this address. We feel that no arguments are wanting in aid of facts like those before the world. We confidently call upon the citizens of Boston and our brethren generally throughout the state, to join the efforts already made and making in the civilized world, for the relief of an oppressed, suffering, agonizing, Christian people. We call upon our merchants, whose hearts are as noble as their for-tunes, to put forth their liberality in behalf of an enterprising nation, which has not enjoyed the blessings of a government able and willing to protect their flag on every sea; but which, nevertheless, amidst indignity, insecurity, and oppression, has acquired a high reputation for commercial skill and industry. We call upon the inhabitants in general of our favored cities, towns, and villages, while they glory in the possession of privy-leges, which call out and strengthen the powers of man, and make him capable of all that is great and generous, to stretch forth a helping hand to a people of noble origin and aspiring feelings, subjected for centuries to the most revolting slavery. We would invite the matrons of America-wives and mothers—to contemplate, and to realise [sic], the picture of the fate of Scio, and to use their influence in exciting a general and powerful emotion, in behalf of the sufferers, in a war like this; and while they draw round their firesides, and miss no member from his place in the happy circle there, to think of the mothers and the daughters, bred up like themselves in ease and competence, in the gar-den of the Levant-sold in the open market, driven with ropes about their necks into Turkish transports, and doomed to the indignities of a Syrian or an Algerine slavery. To all who have felt the pangs of eternal separation from a beloved child, even in the course of nature, we would quote the words of the address of the Greeks at Constantinople to their brethren in London, on occasion of the sack of Scio. “It is time,” says this affecting address, to turn your sympathy toward the unfortunate survivors, to call, dear countrymen, your attention to the miserable naked state of thousands of our Sciotes, with which the markets here and at Smyrna are glutted; picture to yourselves children of the tenderest age, hitherto nursed with the most delicate attention, now driven about with only a piece of cloth round their infantine limbs, without shoes or any other covering, having nothing to live upon but a piece of bread thrown them by their inhuman keepers, ill-treated by them, sold from one to the other, and all in this deplorable condition exposed to be brought up in the Mahometan religion, and to lose sight of the precepts of our holy faith.

We call upon the friends of freedom and humanity to take an interest in the struggles of five millions of Christians, rising, not in consequence of “revolutionary intrigues,” as has been falsely asserted by the crowned arbiters of Europe, but by the impulse of nature, and in vindication of rights long and intolerably trampled on. We invoke the ministers of religion to take up a solemn testimony in the cause; to assert the rights of fellow men, and of fellow christians; to plead for the victims whose great crime is christianity. We call on the citizens of America to remember the time, and it is within the memory of thousands that now live, when our own beloved, prosperous country waited at the door of the court of France and the States of Holland, pleading for a little money and a few troops; and not to disregard the call of those, how are struggling against a tyranny infinitely more galling than that, which our fathers thought it beyond the power of man to support. Every other civilized nation has set us this example; let not the freest state on earth any longer be the only one, which has done nothing to aid a gallant people struggling for freedom.

EDWARD Everett, Secretary.

(Hatzidimitriou 92-101)

Source: Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou, Founded on Freedom and Virtue: Documents Illustrating the Impact in the United States of the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1829 (New Rochelle, New York: Aristide D. Caratzas, 2002).