III. “Greek Fire” The Grass Roots Response A. Expression of Public Support for the Greek Cause
A8. Citizens of the City of Boston Appeal to Congress
(Robinson, pp. 133–35) December 19, 1823
Communicated to the House of Representatives January 5, 1824
SYMPATHY FOR THE GREEKS
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled.
The undersigned, a committee appointed for this purpose, by a large number of the citizens of Boston and its vicinity, convened by public notification on the 19th instant, beg leave most respectfully to represent:
That they feel a deep interest in the political situation of he people of Greece, and rejoice in the information recently communicated by the Chief Magistrate of the United States "that there is good reason to believe Greece will become again an independent nation." That the contest of an oppressed and enslaved people for the invaluable blessings of self-government, and of a Christian people for the enjoyment of religious liberty, has a claim to the best wishes of this nation, for its eventual success, and to whatever aid and encouragement, consistently with the primary duty of self-preservation, it may have the ability to afford.
No one who has duly reflected upon the consequences which have resulted from our own successful struggle in the cause of civil liberty, not as respects the interests of our nation only, but as it has affected also the condition of the whole civilized world, can hesitate to admit that the question of the erection of a new independent Christian State is the most momentous that can occur in the program of human affairs, and especially deserving the attention of the representatives of a free people. Centuries, whose annals are filled with the common succession of wars and conquests, may pass away, without being attended with any important result to the great cause of civilization and humanity; but the emancipation from a barbarous despotism of a gallant and enterprising and intelligent people must be followed by the most propitious consequences, and cannot fail to add to the security of all free Governments, by increasing the number of those who are devoted to their common defence [sic].
The extermination of the Turkish despotism of the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean sea has justly been regarded as a more worthy object of concert and coalition among civilized powers than any which ever engaged their united attention. The existence of that despotism has reduced to a state of desolation several of the most fertile countries of the globe, and annihilated the commerce that might otherwise have been maintained. It has been attended with the grossest insults and outrages on the dignity of States and the liberty of their citizens. The maintaining of a powerful marine force, expensive consular establishments, disgraceful tribute, slavery and war, have successively been among the evils to which this lawless domination has subjected the civilized world, and from which our own country has not been exempted.
It is then quite obvious that the erection of a new free State in the Mediterranean, possessing not only the coasts of Southern Greece, but the islands, particularly of Candia and Cyprus, would form a powerful check upon the barbarous dependencies of the Porte in those seas, and give facility to that commercial enterprise which now finds its way only to one port of European or Asiatic Turkey.
Your Memorialists would not presume to make any suggestion as to the course which it may become the American Government to pursue at this interesting crisis. They feel, in common with their fellow citizens generally the just weight and obligation of that policy which hitherto has prohibited an interference with the internal concerns of any of the powers of Europe, and content themselves, therefore, with expressing their assurance, that if the peculiar and unprecedented condition of the Greeks should, in the opinion of the Government of the United States, form a case of exception to that rule of policy, the measures which may be adopted shall receive their cordial support.
But, your memorialists, at any rate, cannot refrain from the expressions of their earnest wish that the indignation and abhorrence which they are satisfied is universal through out the United States at the mode in which the Turkish Government is carrying on the war against Greece, should be distinctly avowed in the face of the world, and that other civilized and Christian nation should be invited to join in a solemn remonstrance against such barbarous and inhuman depravity.
The sale of forty thousand Christian women, and children (after the massacre of their husbands and fathers), in open market, in the presence of Christian Europe, and with out one world of remonstrance from the surrounding nations, is a circumstance discreditable to the age in which we live. If older and nearer nations are silent on such a subject, there is the greater reason and the more honor in giving utterance to the feelings which are excited on this side of the Atlantic, and of endeavoring to obtain the interference and combining the sentiment of all civilized nations to put an end to such horrible scenes.
The just indignation of the world has recently been manifested by a simultaneous effort to humble and restrain the Barbary powers. Every year hås witnessed some new exertions among Christian nations to abolish the horrible traffic in slaves; an amelioration of the ancient laws of war with regard to private property has recently been propounded as a subject worthy the consideration of the nations; and yet no remonstrance has been made in behalf of Christian brotherhood and suffering humanity.
Your memorialists do therefore most earnestly commend to the constitutional representatives of the American people an attentive consideration of the foregoing interesting and important subjects.
All which is most respectfully submitted, etc.
THOMAS L. WINTHROP, SAMUEL F. JARVIS, SAMUEL D. HARRIS
GEO. BLAKE, EDWARD EVERETT, F. C. WARREN
H. A. DEARBORN, HENRY ORNE, WARREN DUTTON
JAMES T. AUSTIN, S. ADAMS WELLS
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).