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“To Live and Die for Liberty”

A Direct Appeal to America

☆ American Eyes on the Greek Revolution ☆

Proclamation of the Messenian Senate
Citizens of the U. States of America!

In taking the Resolution to live and die for liberty, we feel ourselves drawn toward you by a natural sympathy. It is among you, that liberty has found her abode, and she is worshipped by you as by our fathers. In invoking her name we invoke yours; feeling that in imitating you we imitate our own ancestors, and that we shall show ourselves worthy of them in proportion as we resemble you.

Though separated from you, Americans, by mighty oceans, we are drawn near to you by your virtues. We feel you to be nearer to us than the nations on our frontiers, and we regard you as friends, fellow-citizens, and brethren, because you are just, benevolent and generous. Just, for you are free: Benevolent and generous, for your laws are the laws of the gospel.

On March 23, the Greek Maniote chieftan, Petrobey Mavromichalis (1765–1848), with 2500 irregular klephtic (brigand) fighters, liberated Kalamata as the Ottoman garrison surrendered without fighting. Two days later, on March 25, 1821, the large gathering of chieftains from the region, known as the Messinian Senate of Kalamata, convened to issue the revolutionary proclamation for “Liberty” from the “tyranny of the Turks.”

The proclamation for “Liberty” was sent in the name of the Senate and Commander-in-Chief Petrobey Mavromichalis. In his letter of appeal of May 25, 1821, Petrobey addressed the citizens of the United States of America. By appealing to the Americans directly as “Citizens of the United States,” Petrobey identified the shared value of liberty. He asked for aid to purge Greece from the “barbarians” who “polluted the soil” for four hundred years. Thus, the Greek revolutionaries understood themselves as part of a universal struggle for freedom.

(Courtesy of Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, Piraeus)

Petrobey Mavromichalis, Chief of the Mainottes or old Spartans. Lithograph by Adam Friedel, London 1830.

(The National Archives, Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, London)

“Προειδοποίησις εις τας ευρωπαϊκάς αυλάς,” a declaration of the Greek aspirations to the courts of Europe signed on March 23, 1821 by ‘Petrobey Mavromichalis, Prince and Commander in Chief’.

(Courtesy of the National Historical Museum, Athens)

Petrobey Mavromichalis, notable of Mani, declaring the Revolution in Messenia. Lithograph by Peter von Hess, Munich 1852.

“Your freedom does not rest on the slavery of other nations, … you wish that all men should partake these blessings, and enjoy the rights which nature intended for all…It is you, who first asserted these rights, and you who have first again recognized them, in restoring to the oppressed Africans the character of Men.”

(Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

“Am I not a man and a brother?” was an image popular among British and American Abolitionists. In a direct rebuke of slavery, Petrobey commended the citizens of the United States for their recognition of the humanity of Africans, and for halting the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808. Abolitionist ideals were introduced by the Greeks from the beginning of the Greek Revolution.

(Courtesy of the Library of the Hellenic Parliament, Athens)

(Public domain via Hathi Trust)

Here shown in Greek (top) with English translation (above), the Constitution of Epidaurus, or Provisional Constitution of Greece, became the first liberal democratic constitution in the modern history of Greece and was published in Corinth. Modeled on the French Revolutionary constitutions, as well as the United States Constitution, it created two branches of government — a legislative and executive — to maintain a balance of power.


Revolt in Peloponnese and Crete known as the Orlov Revolt


Rigas Velestinlis Feraios drafts constitution for the “Hellenic Republic”


Ionian Republic/ Septinsular Republic; an Ottoman vassal state – British occupation (1807) and protectorate until 1864


Establishment of the revolutionary society Filike Etairia Society of Friends


Ali Pasha revolts against Ottoman Sultan offering diversion


On 5 March Alexandros Ypsilantis enters Danubian Principalities and proclaims independence, fails and is captured


Greek National Assembly at Epidaurus Proclaims Hellenic Republic and votes on first Greek constitution


Campaign of Ottoman Commander Dramali


Ibrahim Pasha lands in Peloponnesos


Battle of Navarino– Ottoman Navy of Ibrahim Pasha defeated by allied fleet from Britain, France, and Russia


London Protocol declares Greece an independent monarchy, guaranteed by Britain, France, and Russia

(Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation)

A view of Kalamata in 1687 by Jacob von Sandrart.