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Journal of Modem Greek Studies, May 1984 Lafayette's Efforts to Send American Aid to Revolutionary Greece Paul C. Pappas The Greeks rebelled against Turkish rule in March 1821 wim high hopes of obtaining foreign assistance in their endeavor. They were almost certain that aid would be forthcoming from Russia, with which they had religious and cultural ties. They soon realized, however, that the governments of England, France, Austria and Prussia would stand in the way of Russian involvement. This was partly due to their own interests in maintaining the Ottoman Empire as a means of restraining Russian expansion and keeping a balance of power in southeastern Europe. It was also due to their considerable fear of unleashing the revolutionary spirit upon a Europe that needed repose. However, mis did not prevent the Greeks from appealing to the West for private assistance, primarily in the form of economic aid. Europeans and Americans responded quickly to the Greek call for help primarily because of the classical education which was popular in the West. They sent money, armaments and provisions to Greece, and volunteers set forth to assist me fighting Greeks. Philhellenic activities in the form of public meetings, concerts, balls, speeches, solicitations for funds and the establishment of committees occurred throughout the major cities of Europe and America. As philhellenism rose in popularity, constitutional monarchies like England and France came under increasing philhellenic pressure until they changed tÃ-ieir attitude toward Greece and began to align themselves with Russia to help Greece gain her freedom. French philhellenism became intensely active. The Paris Greek Committee became the leader of the philhellenic movement in Europe and was able to send to Greece, after a three year campaign, about $325,000 (£65,000).' It attracted members of all parties and ranks, republicans and royalists, bourgeois and dukes, sergeants and 1 William Linn St. Clair, That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War ofIndependence (London, 1972), 267, 270-272. The ratio of dollars to pounds was 5 to 1. 105 106 PaulC.Pappas generals, thus providing a sense of unity for much divided France. One of the most illustrious members of the Paris Committee was Lafayette . This hero of the American and French revolutions remained true throughout his life to his liberal principles. Living during a period of liberal and national revolutions, he championed the cause of all peoples aspiring to freedom. Lafayette and his family vigorously supported the Greek cause, and he personally contributed five thousand francs to the Paris Committee. Lafayette was anxious for the United States to help Greece. Seeking to take advantage of the American navy's presence in the eastern Mediterranean, where it had been protecting American commerce since the summer of 1822, Lafayette wrote (November 5, 1822) to Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, suggesting that the United States should participate actively and pointing out that a small naval force costing only two million dollars "would suffice to insure the liberty of that classic country."2 He sent a similar letter to Senator Rufus King of New York saying mat the United States was Greece's only hope for salvation. He added that he rejoiced at reports concerning the presence of the American navy in Greek waters.3 America had no intention of going to war against Turkey. President James Monroe desired to help the Greeks, but his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams opposed it. When, in the fall of 1821, Russia invited the United States government to sign a commercial treaty which would have been considered as a disguised military alliance against Turkey, Monroe was ready to sign. But Adams held back, not wishing to abandon America's policy of isolation from European affairs. The Tsar, who in August 1821 had broken diplomatic relations with Turkey and was under the influence of a strong pro-Greek party, was looking for allies to go to war. After a cabinet discussion on November 29, 1821, Monroe declined Russia's offer.4 In his annual message to Congress (December 2, 1822), Monroe enthusiastically endorsed the Greek cause, but as Adams noted with satisfaction in his diary, he also judiciously stated that the United States would...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 105-116
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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