II. Information on the Greek Uprising Reaches America: Publications

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

B2. A Geographical View of Greece, and an Historical Sketch of the Recent Revolution in that Country. Published by N. & S.S. Jocelyn, New Haven; Collins and Hannay, New York [1824] (Book extract)

The Historical Sketch was taken principally from several well written articles recently published in the Boston Daily Advertiser.

Greece, or the country inhabited by the descendants of the ancient Greeks, embraces all that portion of Turkey in Europe which lies south of the parallel of 41° 30'. The continental part is a peninsula, jutting out into the Mediterranean, and separated by the Ionian sea from the peninsula of Italy on the west, and by the Archipelago, from Asia Minor, on the east. In the former sea are situated the Seven Islands, constituting the lonian republic; in the latter, about 100 islands of various size. All these may strictly be considered as a component part of Greece. Near the southern extremity of the peninsula, is the sub-peninsula of the Morea, (the ancient Peloponnesus,) connected with the main land by the narrow isthmus of Corinth. The whole area of Greece, including the islands, may be estimated at 40,000 square miles.

DIVISIONS AND POPULATION. It is impossible to define with any accuracy the limits of the different provinces into which Greece is divided by the Turks. The boundaries for many years have been continually changing, in consequence of the wars between the different Pachas. In modern maps, the country is commonly represented as comprehending the Morea, Livadia, Thessaly, and parts of Albania and Rumelia. These names are sometimes used by writers on the modern geography and history of Greece; but generally, they refer back to the most ancient divisions of the country. For this reason, we have inserted on our map both the ancient and modern divisions, the former being distinguished by an open letter.

Modern Divisions Ancient Divisions Population
Morea Argolis
[Total Morea]
Livadia Attica
[Total Livadia]
Thessaly Thessaly 300,000
Rumelia and Albania Macedonia and Epirus 800,000
Ionian islands   200,000
Islands in the Archipelago   700,000


Down the middle of the peninsula, and parallel to its two coasts, runs a continuous range of lofty mountains, varying in height from 7 to 8,000 feet in the northern and central part, to as many hundred near the southern extremity. Of the former height may be reckoned the ridge of Pindus and Parnassus, while Parnes and Pentelicus, in Attica, do not exceed the latter. Branches are thrown off towards either coast from this central chain; to the eastward, the celebrated Olympus, rising near the head of the gulf of Salonica, to the height of 6,000 feet, forms the north extremity of an inferior chain, con-sisting of Ossa and Pelion, Othrys, and Eta and continuing in a S. E. direction through the island of Negropont. To the westward of the main range are the rugged and mountainous countries of Epirus, Ætolia, and Acarnania. The highest mountains of the Morea are the Cyllenian range, near the west coast, and the Taygetus near the S. extremity. Extensive plains of considerable elevation above the level of the sea, are encircled by the mountain ranges. Of these, Thessaly, Boeotia, and Arcadia, still preserve their ancient character. The rivers by which these plains are watered are little more than mountain streams, with the exception of Peneus, or Salympria, whose numerous branches, after intersecting the plain of Thessaly, unite and discharge themselves through the celebrated defile of Tempe into the gulf of Salonica, and the Alpheus, which waters the verdant plains of Arcadia and Elis.

CLIMATE, SOIL, AND PRODUCTIONS. The climate of Greece is more severe in winter, and in many parts warmer in summer, than that of the south of Italy. In the neighbourhood of Tripolizza, on the elevated plains of the Morea, snow sometimes falls to the depth of 18 inches. In Attica, the climate is more moderate and equable than in other parts of Greece; the air being generally clear, dry and temperate. The peaked summits of Pindus and Parnassus are covered with snow for nine months in the year. The plains of Greece produce corn, rice and tobacco in abundance. In Thessaly are cultivated extensive groves of mulberry trees for the silk worm. The Morea is celebrated for the excellence of its silks, and Messenia, in the S. W. corner of the Morea, is as famous as in ancient times for its corn, wine and figs. The richest produce of Attica is the olive. The cotton plant is in general cultivation.

PRINCIPAL TOWNS. The following is a list of the most important towns that occur in the recent history of the country, arranged in geographical order.
Misolunghi or Messalonga is a town of 5000 inhabitants, situated near the coast of Ætolia. Corinth is situated on the northern declivity of a mountain near the isthmus which connects the Morea with the main land. It formerly had two harbours [sic]: one in the gulf of Egina, which is now deserted, and the other in the gulf of Lepanto. The town contains at present only 1300 or 1400 inhabitants. The isthmus in the narrowest part is only s or 6 miles across. It was famous in ancient times for the Isthmian games, celebrated there in honour [sic] of Neptune.
Patras is situated on a bay of the same name, near the entrance of the gulf of Lepanto. It is built on the declivity of a hill, at the top of which is the castle. The harbour [sic] is perfect-ly safe at all times for the largest ships. The surrounding country is cultivated with great skill and industry, and the numerous products for exportation have rendered this place the most important mart in the Morea; particularly since the Ionian islands have been formed into an independent republic, under the protection of Great Britain. The population is 6 or 8,000, among whom are a number of Jews.
Navarin or Navarino is one of the best ports on the south-west coast of the Morea. It is formed by the island of Sphacteria and several small islets, between which are the pas-sages to the harbour. The principal entrance, which is on the north, between Sphacteria and the main, is commanded by the cannon of Old Navarin. New Navarin is on a promontory of the south shore of the harbour [sic].
Coron is on a small peninsula which just out from the west shore of the gulf of the same name. About the middle of the peninsula is a high rock, which commands the fortifica-tions. The town was destroyed by the Russians in 1770, and a great part of it is now in ruins, but it is still one of the most commercial places in the Morea. The harbour [sic] is large and safe.
Modon, at the S. W. extremity of the Morea, is a town of 6,000 inhabitants, situated at the foot of a mountain, and surrounded by ancient fortifications falling to ruins. Its port is sheltered by the island of Sapienza, which is well inhabited by Greeks, and has sever-al trading vessels belonging to it. Pilots are usually taken here for the Archipelago.
Napoli di Malvasia, the Monembasia of the Turks, is built on a small island, close to the shore, north of Cape St. Angelo. It has but little trade, its port being unsafe. The ruins of Epidaurus Limera are north of it.
Napoli di Romania is situated at the head of the gulf of Napoli, on a rocky promontory which projects into the sea, and forms an excellent harbour [sic], capable of containing 150 ships of war. It is the best built town in the Morea and is well fortified, the works con-structed by the Venetians being still in good order. The town is built on the south side of the harbour [sic], and stretches along the whole length of the promontory. It is divided into upper and lower, having a wall and several batteries between them; the upper town is also surrounded by a wall with embrasures. On the summit of the mountain which rises behind the town is a citadel, the ascent to which is by a flight of steps covered over. Within the citadel are extensive barracks and cisterns. The town contains 9,000 inhabitants. Pidauro, on the west shore of the gulf of Egina, is situated on the ruins of the ancient Epidaurus. It was celebrated for the temple of Æsculapius.
Athens, anciently the capital of Attica, and the birth-place of the most distinguished orators, philosophers, and generals of antiquity, is now an insignificant town of 10 or 12,000 inhabitants, on the rivulets of Ilissus and Cephissus, a few miles from the east- ern shore of the gulf of Egina. Vessels from different parts of the Archipelago occasion ally visit the harbour [sic] and the neighbouring [sic] coast for wood.
Salonica is pleasantly situated at the N. E. extremity of the gulf of the same name. In extent of trade, it is not surpassed by any city in European Turkey, except Constantinople. It is poorly fortified. No city in Greece, except Athens, presents so great a number of splendid ancient monuments. The population of Salonica is estimated at 60,000 souls, one half of whom are Turks, and the remainder Greeks, Jews, and Franks.
Zetouni or Zeitoun, situated at the head of a small gulf in the S. E. part of Thessaly has 4,000 inhabitants, principally Turks. A few miles south of this place is the famous pass of Thermopylæ, between mount Eta and the sea. In the narrowest part it is only 25 feet broad. Here Leonidas and his 300 gallant Spartans resisted for three days the powerful army of Xerxes, and gloriously fell in defense of their country. Larissa, the capital of Thessaly, is beautifully situated on the Peneus, and contained a few years since 20,000 inhabitants, chiefly Turks, with a mixture of Greeks and Jews.
DARDANELLES. The Dardanelles are two old and strong castles on the Hellespont, (sometimes called from them the Strait of the Dardanelles,) between the sea of Marmora and the Grecian Archipelago. One is situated in Europe, and the other in Asia. There are on each side 14 great guns, fitted to discharge granite balls; they are of brass, with chambers, like mortars, 22 feet long, and from 25 to 28 inches in the bore. These castles are called the Old Dardanelles, to distinguish them from two others built at the entrance of the strait, about 10 miles to the south west, one of which stands in like manner in Asia, and the other in Europe.

CHARACTER. The character of the Modern Greeks will be best learnt from the sketch of their history which accompanies this description; there are several tribes, however, which deserve particular notice. The Mainotes who inhabit a mountainous district called Maina, at the southern extremity of the Morea, are supposed to be the descendants of the ancient Spartans, and, aided by the natural strength of their country, they have defended their liberty against the Turks with a bravery and constancy not unworthy of such distinguished ancestors. They were formerly noted of their daring piracies, but of late years these habits have yielded to a love of industry and regular commerce. When Guilletière visited Greece in 1669, it was not safe for his ships to approach the promontory of Maina. Rows of grottos in the rocks facing the sea were occupied as cells or hermitages by priests, who were always on the look out, to give the signal when ships appeared, and received as their reward a tythe [sic] of the plunder for the use of the church. The Mainote chiefs, who are very numerous, dwell in square towers strongly fortified; their government resembles, in many respects, that of the Highland clans in Scotland, each tribe being entirely independent of the other, and each chief being the judge of his people at home, and their commander in the field. The most powerful chief is invested with the title of Bey, and when the country was subject to the Turks it belonged to him to negotiate with the Grand Seignor, and settle the annual contribution, for no Turk was ever suffered to reside in any part of the territory of Maina. “Here, says Dr. Sibchorp, “man seemed to recover his erect form; we no longer observed the servility of mind and body, which distinguished the Greeks subjugated by the Turks.” Every man carries his rifle, and every woman is trained to arms.
The Souliotes are a courageous tribe of Greek Christians, about ten thousand in number, who inhabit the district of Suli, in Albania. This district consists of a valley, 26 miles long by 3 broad, inclosed on all sides by inaccessible mountains, except towards the south, where there is a narrow entrance defended by three towers.
The Yeuruks inhabit the mountainous districts in some parts of Macedonia. At the time of the conquest of Greece, their ancestors were transplanted hither from Turkomania, to restrain the subjugated districts. They occupy the villages on the heights, and on the slightest report of a revolt, arm themselves and descend into the Greek settlements to re, establish order. They are a laborious race of men, and manufacture large quantities of coarse cloth for exportation.

MANUFACTURES. Cotton and silk goods are manufactured in large quantities, particularly in Thessaly. In the district of Zagora, which lies along the declivity of Pelion and Ossa, there are 24 villages inhabited by active and industrious Greeks, who carry these manufactures to such an extent, that some of their towns resemble rather cities of Holland, than Turkish villages. The district produces annually 25,000 okes of silk, of which 5,000 are consumed in the country, in the manufacture of handkerchiefs, which are, for lustre [sic], equal to those of Lyons. The great coats of Zagora are celebrated in all the ports of the Mediterranean. They are made of a thick shaggy wool, which is so well woven, that it is impenetrable to water. Ten thousand bales of cotton are annually dyed red in the manufactories of Thessaly, and exported into Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Russia.

ISLANDS. The following table presents at one view all the important islands, with their population, according to the best estimates.

Islands Population Remarks
Tenedos 5,000 Half Turks, half Greeks
Metelin 18,000 Dearborn says 40,000 half Greeks half, Turks
Scio 60,000 Before the massacre, 120,000, chiefly Greeks
only 4,000 Turks.
Nigaria 2,000 Dearborn says 1,000
Samos 12,000 All Greeks
Patmos 3,000 Chiefly Greeks
Lero 2,000 All Greeks
Calamino 3,000  
Sianco??? 8,000 Greeks and Turks
Priscopia 700  
Rhodes 20,000 Acc. to Turner of whom 14,000 are Greeks
Acc. to Savary. 30,000 of whom 12,000 are Greeks
Cyprus 83,000 Half Greeks, half Turks
Scarpanta 4,000 Chiefly Greeks
Candia 240,000 Half Greeks, half Turks
Santorini 12,000 10,000 Greeks, 2,000 Catholics
Stanpalia 3,000 Chiefly Greeks
Nio or Jos 2,700 All Greeks
Sikyno 200 Chiefly Greeks
Policandro 1,200 Chiefly Greeks
Milo 7,000 Dearborn says 500
Argentiera 200  
Siphno 7,000 All Greeks
Paros 2,000 All Greeks
Naxia 10,000 Chiefly Greeks
Myconi 3,000 Chiefly Greeks
Delos uninhabited  
Syra 5,000 All Greeks
Serpha 2,000 Chiefly
Thermia 4,000 All Greeks
Egina 5,000  
Zea or Ceos 5,000 All Greeks
Tino 25,000 Chiefly Greeks
Andersho 12,000 All Greeks
Negropont 25,000  
Skyro 1,500 All Greeks
Scapelo 12,000 &nbps;
Lemnos 20,000 Chiefly Greeks
Imbro 3,000 Chiefly Greeks
Samothraki 2,000  
Tasse 8,000  
Hydra }    
Spezia } 58,000 All Greeks
Ipsora }    

IONIAN ISLANDS. The Ionian islands, sometimes called the Republic of the Seven Islands, is a small and recently constituted republic, consisting of seven principal islands, and a number of islets extending along the western coast of Greece, from 36° to 40° N. lat. The seven principal islands are, Corfu, Paxo, Santa Maura (the ancient Leu-cadia) Theaki or Ithaca, Cefalonia, Zante, and Cerigo. The coasts of these islands are rugged and difficult of access, and their harbours insecure, with the exception of those of Theaki and Cefalonia, to which, in consequence, most of the shipping belongs. The productions are corn, wine, olives, currants, cotton, &c. Since the year 1815, these islands have constituted a republic, under the protection of Great Britain. The inhabitants are partly Italians, but principally Greeks.

Origin of the Revolution

In the year 1814, an Association for the promotion of knowledge and of general improvement in Greece was established at Vienna. To this association many distinguished Statesmen of Western Europe, many of the literati, particularly in Germany, and most of the affluent merchants and other respectable characters in Greece itself, sub, scribed and contributed. No political object was avowed. In general, none, probably was contemplated. Still, however, the views of the most ardent associates doubtless extended to the political regeneration of Greece. The effervescence, which existed in Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, after the overthrow of Napoleon and the general call for political improvement in those countries, could not but have had an effect in Greece, from which country about one hundred young men annually resort to the Universities of Western Europe.

Ali Pacha.

In the year 1820, the war of the Porte against Ali, the powerful and veteran Pacha of Yanina, broke out. In this war the Greeks took no part, and Ali, when driven by the Turkish armies into his strong hold of the lake of Yanina, took with him more than one hundred of the most respectable Greeks in his dominions, as hostages of the quiet of the rest. By the end of the year 1820, Ali's armies had either deserted him or been driven from the field, and he was closely besieged by the Turkish Pacha, who had been sent against him.

Revolution in Wallachia and Moldavia.

In this state of things, in the beginning of 1821, the Greek Hospodar of Wallachia died. The two Turkish provinces, Wallachia and Moldavia, bordering on Austria and Russia, and wholly inhabited by christians of the Greek faith, (though not of the Greek nation,) are governed by Greek Princes, called Hospodars, nominated by the Porte. This government is guaranteed to these two Provinces by several treaties between the Porte and Russia. On the death of the Greek Hospodar of Wallachia in January, 1821, and before a new one could be appointed at Constantinople, Theodore, a native Wallachian, gathered together 60 or 70 adventurers, principally Albanians-a kind of Turkish Swiss, found in every part of the empire-and with these marched out of Bucharest, the capital of Wallachia, calling on the inhabitants to revolt and procure the redress of their grievances. It has been said that this revolt was effected by the gold and emissaries of Ali Pacha. Theodore in a short time collected about 15,000 men, without plan or organization, who demanded a redress of the grievances, which they suffered under their Greek governors. The Porte received the news of the revolt with little concern, and despatched [sic] officers with orders to suppress it, as one of those hasty mutinies, which are frequently happening in all parts of Turkey.

Meantime, however, a more serious event took place in the adjoining provinces of Mol-davia. On the 7th of March, 1821, a proclamation was found pasted up in all the streets of Jassy, the capital of Moldavia, signed by Prince Alexander Ypsilanti, calling upon the inhabitants to assert their liberty, assuring them that Prince Michael Suzzo, the Hospodar of Moldavia, was in their cause, and intimating that the co-operation of Russia might be hoped.-Alexander Ypsilanti is of one of the oldest families of Greece; his father was Hospodar of Wallachia, and escaped to Russia, his life being threatened by the Porte; Alexander had been educated in a Russian military school; served and lost an arm in the Russian army, and at this moment enjoyed the rank of Major General, in the Russian service. He had been an active member of the Association alluded to above, and stood in correspondence with the men of most influence in all parts of Greece. It was true that Prince Suzzo was in the secret of this revolt, although, in the first instance, it was against himself. Ypsilanti's proclamation had a powerful effect. The people rose and crowded to his standard, and he was soon in full march toward Wallachia. On the way, he was joined by another strong band, who had revolted at the same time at Galaez, on the Danube, and it may justly be called singular that these three simultaneous insurrections were wholly without concert.

The news of these events produced great excitement at Odessa, of which a great part of the inhabitants are Greeks. The wealthy subscribed in the most liberal manner, and the young and adventurous crowded to the banner of Ypsilanti, which was emblazoned, like that of Constantine, with the christian cross and the motto, “in this thou shall conquer.” Ypsilanti lost no time in sending an address to the Russian Emperor then at Laybach: and the Emperor lost as little time in ordering Ypsilanti's name to be erased form the lists of the Russian army, and directing the Russian consul at Jassy to denounce the revolutionary proceedings in the name of the Emperor. Information of these measures was also given to the Porte, by Baron Strogonoff, the Russian minister at Constantinople. The Porte not wholly satisfied, ordered a search of all vessels passing to or from the Black Sea; an order, at which Baron Strogonoff took umbrage.

By this time the Porte was alarmed at the progress of the revolt. The lives of the Greeks at Constantinople were threatened; Suzzo was outlawed as a traitor, and the Greek Patriarch, by order of the Porte, excommunicated him and all the Moldavian rebels.

Revolution extends to Greece.

Meantime, however, the fame was spreading. Alexander Ypsilanti had his agents in all the provinces of Greece, who received and propagated intelligence of the events in the two North Eastern Provinces. Preparations had been making all winter in the mountains of the Morea, and arms were collected, and councils held by Peter Mavromichalis, the Bey of the Mainotes, and his brave associates. At the end of March they had 8000 men ready to throw off the yoke. The news from Moldavia put them in motion, and the Turks were driven to the fortresses, in all the Southern parts of the Morea. The 30th of March, Germanus, Archbishop of Patras, raised the standard of the cross, collected the peasantry, and after a skirmishing warfare and many mutual excesses, drove the Turks into the citadel of Patras. On the same day, the Messenian Senate of Calamata, was convened; proclamations were issued, addressed to the Greeks; another to the Turks, promising them protection on condition of their not resisting; and others to foreign nations. Among the last a proclamation was addressed, by this body, in the month of May, to the citizens of the United States.

It was highly favourable [sic] to the cause of the Patriots that Churshid, Pacha of the Morea, the ablest Turkish commander who was has appeared in this war, was absent, besieging Ali Pacha at Yanina. On hearing of the revolt in the Morea, he detached his Lieu-tenant, Jussuf Selim, with a considerable force. Jussuf landed at Patras, pillaged the city, burned 800 houses, and massacred the Greeks, who fell into his hands, without distinction of age or sex. This severity produced a happy effect: it roused many, who had hitherto taken no part. The whole Province was in arms. Gregory, a monk, ranged the country with a cross in his hand, and took post, with several thousand followers, at the Isthmus of Corinth: and in a few days Attica, Livadia, Acarnania, and Thessaly, were in open revolt. The features of insurrection were every where the same. After some bloody skirmishes, the Turks were everywhere driven to the walled towns, and often to the castles in the towns. Nor were the islands behind the continent. Hydra, Spezzia, and Ipsara, the three islands where the navigation of Greece centres [sic], formed their Sen-ate, fitted out in a short time 180 privateers, and swept the Turkish trade from the Archipelago. The single house of Conturiory [sic] fitted out 30 small cruisers. Vovlina, a lady whose husband had been put to death by the Turks, fitted out, at her own expense, three cruisers, and commanded the little squadron in person. These fleets raised all the islands; kept up a communication between them; blockaded the ports where the Turks were fortified, and gave life to the Patriot cause in every quarter.

(Hatzidimitriou 101-111)

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).