VI. Tangible Support: Philhellenes, Warriors and Philanthropists

A. Popular Appeals and Contributions

(Robinson, p. 157) New York Commercial Advertiser, December 6, 1823: Greek Committee

At a meeting last evening of the committee of the “Greek Fund,” Wm. Bayard, Esq. was called to the chair and Charles King was appointed Secretary.

The meeting being organized, the following letter from N. Biddle Esq., which enclosed a donation of three hundred dollars, was read and ordered to be entered on the minutes, and published.
Philadelphia, Dec. 4

Allow me to request that you will have the goodness to add the enclosed to the contribution in favour [sic] of the Greeks.

To that unfortunate people, I owe something for personal kindness and hospitality; but I am much more grateful to them for the high spirit with which they are struggling to sustain their country against the worst enemies of civilized freedom. God grant that the sympathies and the humble aid of even this distant nation may not be wholly unavailing. With very anxious wishes for their success, and great respect for the gentlemen of your city who are generously engaged in promoting it, I am, very sincerely yours,

N. Biddle

Niles' Weekly Register, January 3, 1824
THE GREEKS. Much is doing in the states of New York and Pennsylvania, especially in their chief cities, to raise funds for the aid and relief of the Greeks; and means have been prepared to effect a general contribution in the state of Massachusetts. Liberal donations have been made by individuals and companies in other sections of our country, and it is probable that a very handsome fund will be raised, and perhaps reach them in time to assist in opening the next campaign for freedom. We hope that some one, who has opportunity and leisure, will keep a record of the liberal acts of our fellow citizens, that it may be preserved, in honor of those to whom honor shall be due.

Niles' Weekly Register, January 10, 1824
THE GREEKS go on bravely and with glorious success. They have beaten the Turks at every point, and destroyed and put to fight three armies of the barbarians, under the pacha of Adrinople, Jussef pacha and Mustapha pacha, all whom have lost great numbers of men, and the pursuit after the survivors was hot. They have also defeated their enemies at sea, and captured or destroyed many of the Turkish ships—LAUS DEO.

The spirit to assist them begins generally to prevail in the United States. Public and private bodies and individuals, are contributing handsomely: at the colleges, academies and schools, and in the churches—at the theatres, museums and other places of amusement or instruction—in the great cities and the small towns, much is doing, and the aggregate cannot fail to be of service to the Grecian cause. A Barber at New York, to shew his opposition to the barbarous Turks, opened his shop for two days to shave and dress hair, to aid the “Greek fund”—his receipts were fourteen dollars and fifty cents, which he paid over. This will support a soldier for a month, and if the example should become general, the effect will be powerful.

(Robinson, pp. 166-71) New York Commercial Advertiser, January 25, 1827: The Suffering Greeks
We have been favoured [sic] with the following extracts from a letter, written by the Rev. Jonas King, (late a Missionary in Palestine, but now in France,) to Mr. Evarts, Corresponding Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. We take this occasion to remind our readers, that eleven Greek youths, five of them members of Colleges in New England, are now receiving and education in his country, with a view to their future usefulness when they shall return to the land of their ancestors.

If the people in America could see unhappy Greece, sitting in the dust, in the midst of the ruins of her ancient grandeur, stretching out her hands, as it were, towards happy America;-could they hear her sighs,-could they behold the sorrows of her thousands and ten thousands in captivity;-I am sure they would extend the helping hand. But alas-the sufferings of a distant nation make but a slight impression on the heart! The sighs, that are borne along the eastern gale across the wide Atlantic, die away before they reach the western world; or light but feebly on the ear of those, who, in that happy country, sit peacefully and quietly under their own vine and fig tree, without any to molest or make them afraid!

That twelve millions of freemen, who justly hailed Lafayette, with unexampled joy, because, in his youth he left his country, and joined our immortal Washington, in the cause of freedom, should contribute no more, than forty thousand dollars, to aid a nation, struggling for the dearest rights of man-for liberty, for life;—that two frigates, (which, were they sent, might even now save Greece), should be left upon the stocks, or one be sold to defray the expenses of the other, is to me a matter of surprise.

A remark was made to me, a few months since, by a very respectable gentleman. 'What,' said he, ‘is the object of your Bible Societies? Is it not to distribute the word of God among Mussulmans and Pagans, to bring them to the knowledge of the truth, and to embrace Christianity? How few are you able to distribute among Mussulmans? But here you see fifty or a hundred thousand Greeks, women and children, led into captivity, to be taught the Koran, to be trained up as Mussulmans-who are ready to receive the sacred Scriptures,-who already believe in Christ-who now sigh to return to the religion of the Gospel; and you stand and look on, and no one appears to redeem them. It is the duty of the friends and patrons of Bible Societies, to pour out their treasures, for the redemption of those captives, if they wish to do good!'”

I must confess, that there is something in this remark, that looks like reason; and I am astonished, that Christians and freemen feel so little or, if they feel, do so little-for a suffering nation.

“It is said, “The Greeks are all pirates.” That there are piratical Greeks, I have abundant evidence, in the loss of my own property. But that they are all pirates, is not true. The Greek government does not approve of piracy. But how can Greece, when struggling for life, not only against the Turks, but Austrians;-I say, how can she spare vessels from her little navy, to go and destroy pirates? It seems to me a thing not to be expected-a thing impossible.

It is said, “The Greeks are divided!” That they are not united as they should be, I am ready to grant. But it appears to me that there must have been a bond of unity somewhere, to enable them to withstand, for more than five years, the united strength of Turkey, often aided by Austria.

It is said, “The Greeks are faithless-much more so than the Turks!” This comes from mercantile men, who are the best judges in point of trade. The Turk is the master; and has not, perhaps, the same inducement to overreach in trade, as the Greek has, who is the slave, and obliged to devise every means in his power, to gain subsistence. But, in a civil and political point of view, I do not think there is a more hypocritical, faithless nation under heaven, than the Turkish. Had I time, I could adduce a multitude of facts to prove it.

But allowing the Greeks to be ever so bad: What, I would ask, can be expected from a nation that has borne the Turkish yoke for four hundred years? I wonder that they have so many virtues as they possess, rather than that they have so few. Whatever they may be, they possess genius and talents in a high degree. This, their bitterest enemies readily admit: and they are ready to receive the two grand means, and I might say, perhaps, the only means which can render a nation civilized, noble and happy-the light of science and the light of the gospel. The Greeks are every where ready to receive the sacred scriptures, and to establish schools for the instruction of their children. The Greeks seek after knowledge. Now, with their genius and talents, their desire for instruction, and their readiness to receive the word of God, what might not be expected from such a nation in twenty of thirty years, if they had their liberty? Where should the tree of science best thrive, if not in the soil which first produced it? Where should the fine arts flourish more than in the land which gave them birth? Where should the religion of Jesus find a more welcome abode, than in the hearts of those, who, with all their errors, are ready to die as martyrs for his name? For the Greek has only to say, “there is no God, but God, and Mohammed is the apostle of God,' and he is free-he is pardoned-he has all the rights of a Mussulman. But rather than deny their God and Saviour [sic], they welcome the poignard, that pierces to the heart, and bow under the scymetar [sic] which separates their heads from their bodies. Is there nothing noble in such a nation? Is there nothing that can excite the sympathy of the Christian, the compassion of the philanthropist? Can the scholar, the painter, the sculptor, the poet, the orator, the lawgiver, the advocate, the divine, all of whom must feel their obligation to Greece, stand an look on coolly, and see her butchered? A war, ferocious, horrible, exterminating, has been lighted up in Greece, and it has gone so far that she must now be butchered or be free. A little band of men, poorly furnished with arms, without money, without discipline, have for more than five years, braved the fury of the storm of war, and they are determined still to resist. The courage of Leonidas, and the fortitude of the first martyrs, dwells in their breasts. The children and the sucklings [sic] swoon in the streets; they cry to their mothers for food, which is not to be found. The beautiful and delicate woman seeks death, as a favour [sic], from the compassionate hand of her husband, rather than be left to fall into the hands of a brutal Turk, whose garments are stained with the blood of her kindred. What eye does not weep at the remembrance of Ipsara, and Scio, and Missolonghi: What heart is so adamantine as not to feel, at seeing thousands of beautiful damsels, with tears in their eyes, bidding farewell to their native land, wet with the blood of their fathers and brothers, going to drag out a wretched life in a Mussulman harem?

If Greece falls, it will be an everlasting shame to every Christian nation.

I ask not for war; I ask that it may be prevented. I desire not that streams of human blood should flow more copiously, but that the fountains already opened should be stopped. The gospel of Jesus Christ certainly breathes peace. But does it command me to look quietly on, and see my brother's blood shed by the hand of an assassin, when I might interfere and rescue him?

(Hatzidimitriou 313-316)

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).