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

A3. Extracts from President James Monroe's Annual Messages to Congress

(Robinson, pp. 67, 72, 125): 17th Congress, Second Session. December 2, 1822.

.... Europe is still unsettled, and although the war long menaced between Russia and Turkey has not broken out, there is no certainty that the differences between those Powers will be amically [sic] adjusted. It is impossible to look to the oppressions of the country, respecting which those differences arose, without being deeply affected.

The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments, and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings, of which our nature is susceptible. Superior skill and refinement in the arts, heroic gallantry in action, disinterested patriotism, enthusiastic zeal, and devotion in favor of public liberty are associated with our recollection of ancient Greece. That such a country should have been overwhelmed and so long hid-den, as it were, from the world under a gloomy despotism, has been a cause of unceas-ing and deep regret to generous minds for ages past. It was natural, therefore, that the reappearance of these people in their original character contending in favor of their liber-ties, should produce that great excitement and sympathy in their favor, which have been so signally displayed throughout the United States. A strong hope is entertained that these people will receive their independence and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth.

18th Congress, First Session, December 2, 1823.
... Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers, to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none.

... A strong hope has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of the Greeks that they would succeed in their contest, and resume their equal status among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole civilized world takes a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power has declared in their favor, yet none, according to our information, has taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protect-ed them from dangers, which might, ere this, have overwhelmed any other people. The ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition, with a view to aggrandizement, which mingle so much in the transactions of nations, seem to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to our knowledge, there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost for ever all dominion over them; that Greece will again become an independent nation. That she may obtain that rank, is the object of our most ardent wishes.

18th Congress, Second Session, December 7, 1824.
... In turning our attention to the condition of the civilized world, in which the United States have taken a deep interest, it is gratifying to see how large a portion of it is blessed with peace. The only wars which now exist within that limit, are those between Turkey and Greece, in Europe, and between Spain and the new Governments, our neighbors, in his hemisphere. In both these wars, the cause of independence, of liberty, and humanity, continues to prevail. The success of Greece, when the relative population of the contending parties is considered, commands our admiration and applause a similar effect with the neighboring Powers is obvious. The feeling of the whole civilized world is excited, in a high degree, in their favor. May we not hope that these sentiments, winning in the hearts of their respective Governments, may lead to a more decisive result? that they may produce an accord among them to replace Greece on the ground which she formerly heal, and to which her heroic exertions, at this day, so eminently entitle her?

(Hatzidimitriou 199-200)

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).