IV. The “Greek Question” As An Issue of U.S. Foreign Policy

A4. Correspondence between John Quincy Adams and Alexander Mavrocordatos

(Booras, pp. 163–65) Tripolitza, June 22, 1823

Sir: I am directed by my Government to bring to your knowledge the feelings of gratitude towards the ministers of your nation accredited in London, Paris, Lisbon, and Madrid. The interest they have taken in the success of our cause and the sentiments of benevolence inspiring them in our favor, assure them as well as all your generous citizens the incontestable rights to our thankfulness.

If an immense distance separates America from Greece, their constitutions and their reciprocal interests bring them so close together that we cannot possibly omit to look for-ward to the establishment of relations whose happy results can possibly be doubted.

A mission which is about to be sent to London for the negotiation of a loan is, at the same time, directed to enter into secret negotiations with you.

In the firm hope that they will have the desired success, I request you to be kind enough to accept the assurance of my perfect esteem and also the highest consideration with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant.


Washington, August 18, 1823

Department of State

Sir: A copy of the letter which you did me the honor of addressing to me, on the 20th of February last, has been transmitted to me by the minister of the United States at Lon-don, and has received the deliberate consideration of the President of the United States.

The Sentiments with which he has witnessed the struggle of your countrymen for their national emancipation and independence has been made manifest to the world in the public message to the Congress of the United States. They are cordially felt by the people of the United States; who, sympathising [sic] with the cause for freedom and independence wherever its standard is unfurled, behold with peculiar interest the display of Grecian energy in defence [sic] of Grecian liberties, and the association of heroic exertions, at the present time, with the proudest glories of former ages, in the land of Epaminondas and of Philopoemen.

But, while cheering with their best wishes the cause of the Greeks, the United States are forbidden, by the duties of their situation, from taking part in the war, to which their relation is that of neutrality. At peace themselves with all the world, their established policy, and the obligations of the laws of nations, preclude them from becoming voluntary auxiliaries to a cause which would involve them in war.

If in the progress of events, the Greeks should be enabled to establish and organize themselves into an independent nation, the United States will be among the first to welcome them, in that capacity, into the general family; to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with them, suited to the mutual interests of the two countries, and to recognize [sic], with special satisfaction, their constituted state in the character of a sister Republic.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,


(Hatzidimitriou 201-202)

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).