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Reviews 115 Paul Constantine Pappas, The United States and the Greek War for Independence , 1821-1828. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1985. Pp. xvi-231. Paul Constantine Pappas rightly claims a pioneer status in making his contribution to understanding Greek-American relations during Greece's war for independence. No American diplomatic historian has undertaken as close a study of this subject as Pappas has in the last 50 years, and none of his predecessors had utilized Greek sources. Given the special role Greece has played in the American mind, and given also its place in the making of the Monroe Doctrine, a new study is welcome. The results, however, are not as satisfactory as the project itself. There is no question about the thoroughness of Pappas' research; Ernest May's work on the Monroe Doctrine is the only striking omission in the bibliography. But there are questions to be asked about the author's conceptualizations. His style and organization do not help clarify them. His major assumption rests on a widespread philhellenism in America that shaped the American response to Greece's rebellion against the Ottomon Empire. If this were true, it was a thin philhellenism subject to easy suppression by such a determined opponent as Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Pappas presents at length an impressive list of newspapers and journals and particularly statesmen who rallied to the Greek cause. Rivals such as Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, presidents Madison and Monroe, could join in urging special American treatment of Greece. They failed to win recognition for Greece in this period, let alone provide military aid to its cause. The two major efforts—Daniel Webster's resolution in the House to pay for an agent to be sent to Greece in 1823, and Adam's actual dispatch of agents in 1825— aborted dismally. And no one really cared. The author suggests from time to time that the various Greek factions were less than vitally concerned with American support. Their eye was on Europe, and it was the great powers of Europe— Britain, France, and Russia—that won autonomy and then independence for Greece through their concerted action in the St. Petersburg Protocol of 1826 and in the Treaty of London in the following year. Pappas reinforces the impression that the competitive interests of European powers in the fate of the Turkish Empire were far more significant than a fitful and tenuous transatlantic tie between American politicians and humanitarians with equally competitive Greek factions seeking support abroad. Indeed, he does not even mention the 116 Reviews United States until more than one-fifth of the book has been completed . Pappas' climactic chapter, on the construction of two Greek frigates in the United States by American shipbuilders, suggests both the virtues and drawbacks of this volume. This is new material, and its political story is worth telling for its implications. The United States appeared to violate its own neutrality laws by allowing the New York House of Le Roy, Bayard and Company to help the Greek cause in 1824 by constructing the frigates. Much the same winking at the law was done for South American rebels in earlier years. But the fiasco resulting from exorbitant prices, long delays in constructions, the ultimate delivery of only one frigate, and the court fights that followed, all revealed the strength of pecuniary gain as against the idealism of a cause. When the details were exposed, the greed of the shipbuilders provoked some feeling of shame but also annoyance at the behavior of the Greek agents. But while the case of the Greek frigates is the final chapter in the book, it might well have been placed in an appendix, rather than as an integral part of the story. The case illustrated a tale already told. What is disclosed is the relative minor impact the romantic appeal of ancient Greek democracy had for American political life. While the author did not play up its significance, he did mention the greater importance that a commercial agreement with Turkey held for the United States government. In the private sector it seemed that merchants involved in trade with Turkey more than balanced sympathizers with Greek democracy or opponents...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 115-117
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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