United States Capitol
(freely dowloadable in PDF format here)
author: John D. Pappas
On December 3, 1822, the Congress of the Holly Alliance in Verona (October 8 – December 3, 1822) concluded its proceedings. At Verona, the rulers of continental Europe decided the invasion of a 100.000-men French army in Spain, in order to crash the revolution of the Exaltados, the anti-monarchic revolutionaries in Spain. Also, at Verona, the hegemons of Europe made the grave (hubristic) mistake to consider a transatlantic joint military intervention of the Holly Alliance in the American continent, in order to re-consolidate colonial order in South and Central America: The successful Austrian invasion in Italy last year (1821) against the Carbonari, the Italian revolutionaries, along with the imminent French invasion in Spain (1823), constituted an effective reactionary counter-revolutionary paradigm, which the Holy Alliance could apply (“export”) into the American continent—at least so the European monarchs thought—for crushing the rebellions that had been leading many European colonies in America to their emancipation and independence, in domino-like emulation of the momentous revolutionary paradigm of the American Revolution (1765-1783).
The response of the warring Greek revolutionaries to the reactionary deliberations and decisions of the Holy Alliance at Verona, was military:(1) On that day (December 3, 1822), they concluded the liberation (October 29 - September 3, 1822) of the first capital of Greece, Nafplion, from the Ottoman yoke, right after the destruction of the formidable 32.000-men Ottoman «Army of the 5 pashas» under Dramali (Mohamed Ali Pasha of Drama) by the 3.600-men Greek troops under Kolokotronis, the legendary Greek warlord.
The response of the United States was even more formidable, because it was geopolitical: By a twist of fate, on that same day (December 3, 1822), a philhellenic thunderbolt lightened the cloudy (or even gloomy) reactionary firmament of the then authoritarian-colonial Europe. It was a geopolitical thunderbolt that was flung from the other side of the Atlantic, by the U.S. Government, against the status quo of the European hegemons in the post-Napoleonic era.
5th U.S. President (1817-1825)
On that historical day (December 3, 1822), James Monroe, the 5th President of the United States (1817-1825), made an unqualified and geopolitically momentous statement in favor the Greek freedom fighters, who were then fully engaged in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1833). In his statement, Monroe announced that the U.S. favored the independence of the neonate democratic Greek State (first established on January 1, 1822): As of that day, December 3, 1822, the U.S. were looking forward to Greece becoming an independent country—not an autonomous suzerainty within the Ottoman Empire, as Czar Alexander A΄ intended at the time—of “equal station among the nations of the earth”.Monroe's statement, that was carefully worded (word-by-word), was proclaimed at the highest institutional level, i.e. in his annual (5th) State of the Union Address before the joint session of the U.S. Congress, as follows:
“ A strong hope is entertained that these people will recover their independence and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth.”
That was the first official explicit reference by a leader of an (emerging) Great Power to the national independence of the Greeks and also to their equal station at the level of international law: The U.S. was looking pragmaticallyforward to what Czar Alexander A΄ considered a “chimeric idea” at the time, and to what all other European rulers were then loath even to hear (let alone discuss), i.e. the national independence of the Greeks, despite the fact that the Greek fighters were fully engaged, all alone then, in a fierce and chaotic “war of extermination” (Finlay τ. Ι, σ. 171-172, 236-237) on land and in the seas, the Archipelago and the Ionian sea, in the “southeast corner of Europe” (according to the geographical characterization of Greece by the Holy Alliance in Verona), as forefighters of all Christian Europe against Ottoman theocracy, against Asian backwardness, and against Muslim expansionism (Jihadism).
Even more, by Monroe's proclamation, the United States have since emerged as the historically first Great Power whose government explicitly and officially “mentioned” the name “Greece”—more than four years before Russia and England did so by the Protocol of St. Petersburg (March 23, 1826)—i.e. the first Great Power that recognized a political existence of the Greeks as a nation.
Still more, according to that Presidential declaration, Monroe praised the Greek forefighters before the joint session of Congress, with words of historical wisdom and with an enthusiastic tone that unsettled the ears and the minds of many hegemons in post-Napoleonic Europe—like those of Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich—as follows:
“ One year ago 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 amicably 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 and personal liberty are associated with our recollections of ancient Greece. That such a country should have been overwhelmed and so long hidden, as it were, from the world under a gloomy despotism, has been a cause of unceasing and deep regret to generous minds for ages past. It was natural, therefore, that the reappearance of those people in their original character, contending in favor of their liberties, 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 recover their independence and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth.”
It is noteworthy that the philhellenic ultimatum Russia against the Ottoman Empire (6 July 1821), and thereby the threat of Russo-Turkish war (referred to in the introductory sentence of Monroe's declaration), were intended for protecting the Greek Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Hellenism (the Greek population throughout the tricontinental Ottoman Empire) primarily in non-combatant regions under Ottoman yoke, against indiscriminate Turkish reprisals in such regions for Greek victories in war zones. Still, the Russian ultimatum included verbal qualifications and conditions (explicit or implicit) as to the fate of armed Greeks (soldiers, guerillas and seamen) in war zones within the Ottoman Empire. On the contrary, the unconditional philhellenic Presidential statement of the United States (1822) pertained to the Greeks in war zones, as descendants of the ancient Greeks and forefighters of Christian Europe, with a maximalist wording as to the anticipated (positive) outcome of the Greek War of Independence—an outcome that, according to the U.S. Federal Government, could soon be nothing less eventually than the national independence of Greece. In sum, that proclamation of the U.S. Government was historically the first unconditional philhellenic declaration by a leader of a great country in favor of the Greek forefighters in war zones.
John Quincy Adams
6th President (1825-1829)
and Secretary of State (1817-1825)
of the United States.
The Presidential declaration was not merely the product of a “sentimentally” philhellenic predisposition of the American Government, although the U.S. foreign policy was led then by Philhellene John Quincy Adams, a prominent statesman in American History, then U.S. Secretary of State (1817-1825) and thereafter (6th) President of the United States (1825-1829). Nor was it a product of political expediency, in light of the Philhellenism that was then spreading to the U.S. electorate, even though the declaration referred explicitly to American Philhellenism at the end of the paragraph (second to last sentence). The real importance and outlook of that groundbreaking declaration was geostrategic, as demonstrated in the following year (1823): The philhellenic declaration of the United States (1822), amounted essentially to a “prelude” of the philhellenic proclamation of the “Monroe Doctrine” after just 12 months (December 2, 1823). That is, Monroe's philhellenic declaration in 1822, with all that it mentioned explicitly (concerning the national “independence” of liberated Greece, as a geographically small country but still of “equal stature” with the Great Powers) and implicitly (US potential support of the Greek revolutionaries, an option that was not explicitly precluded in the declaration), was virtually a preview of the philhellenic dimension of the “Monroe Doctrine”, which at the time, during the Congress at Verona and the following months, was being formulated by the leadership of the United States.
The great significance of the Greek War of Independence for Europe and the world, was pointed out by President Monroe in the following year, on December 2, 1823, in a most solemn institutional context, i.e. in the main text(2) (929 words) of the geostrategically groundbreaking (anti-colonial) presidential proclamation as to the founding principles of the U.S. foreign (geo)policy—principles that later, since 1850, were named epigrammatically as the “Monroe Doctrine”—in Monroe's next annual (6th) State of the Union Address before the joint session of the U.S. Congress. The text of that (second) philhellenic proclamation, also handwritten by John Quincy Adams, begins with a relatively large paragraph (165 words) that refers entirely to the Greek War of Independence. That paragraph constitutes the introduction of the main text of the Monroe Doctrine, as follows:
“ 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 station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that thewhole civilized world take 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 protected 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 mingles 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 forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most ardent wishes.”
The philhellenic ultimatum of Russia against the Ottoman Empire “repositioned” the “Greek question” to the epicenter of the “Eastern question” before the Great Powers of Europe in 1821-1822. The subsequent proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 upgraded the Greek question even further, to the highest conceivable (global) level, i.e. on center stage of the world arena of the Great Powers: The Greek War of Independence was an emblematic paradigm of national liberation for all nations in the world. Moreover, the democratic Greek State had evolved de facto into a political projection of the democratic U.S. in the Old World, because the revolutionary Greek constitution (effected by the National Assembly of the Greeks in Astros, 1823) had many common features with that of the (democratic) U.S. rather than of any other (autocratic-oligarchic) country in Europe then, in the post-Napoleonic era. Furthermore, through the Monroe Doctrine, warring Greece was potentially a geostrategic bridgehead of the (anti-colonial) U.S. in (colonial) Europe. In particular, under the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. would react, with all the means at the disposal of the American Government, against any further expansionist intervention of European Powers in the American continent, whether such intervention was direct (military) or indirect (political), as follows:
“We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”
In case of “any” indirect (politico-economic) counter-revolutionary involvement by a European Power, “in any other manner”, against an emancipated-independent former colony in the American continent, the U.S. projected implicitly, as deterrent, their own resolution for indirect (revolutionary) counter-involvement in Europe, and even in asymmetrical “manner”, namely, by offering substantial material and economic U.S. support to the warring Greeks, in order to put into effect chaotically, all across Europe, the Greek ethnic-liberation paradigm—which threatened to motivate or even instigate the peoples in the multinational mosaic of Europe towards their (national) emancipation from their hegemons—to the eventual dissolution of all (multinational) empires in Europe.
Within that context, the resolution of the United States, at to its counter-offensive contingency option, underlies the emphasis of the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine on the “heroic struggle of the Greeks”, i.e. Monroe's explicit and extensive reference to the Greek War of Independence—and indeed in the most prominent position of the proclamation, i.e. as an introduction to the main text of the Monroe Doctrine, which otherwise, in theory or in first reading, pertained primarily to the American (not the European) continent.
View of the United States Capitol (1806)
[painting by Benjamin Latrobe (1800-1856)].
It should be noted that John Quincy Adams, the mastermind and author of the Monroe Doctrine, had an outstanding knowledge of the vulnerability (“Achilles' heel”) of the seemingly powerful authoritarian (monarchic) regimes in mainland Europe: destabilization from within, through popular revolutions with democratic and national cause (per the Greek paradigm). Adams' knowledge of that vulnerability was not merely theoretical but also experiential, since, before taking up his duties in 1817 as U.S. Secretary of State, he had previously represented his country as the historically first U.S. ambassador in Russia in 1809-1814, i.e. in the most critical and perhaps most glorious period of Russian history up to that time. Adams was then fortunate to experience personally the titanic struggle of Russia against the Grande Armée of Napoleon and to develop, from then on, a personal relationship of mutual respect with Czar Alexander A΄. He had also obtained personal knowledge of the weaknesses of Russia, as well as those of England (where he served as U.S. Ambassador in 1814-1817) and France (where he resided during the «100 Days» of Napoleon in 1815). As result, in combination with an effective sense of measure that distinguished him (he was a classicist at an academic level, with profound knowledge of both Latin and Ancient Greek), Adams knew how to neither underestimate nor overestimate military or political threats from the Old World (Europe) against the New World (America).
President Monroe, through his successive philhellenic proclamations in 1822-1823, demonstrated that the U.S. Government was the first to realize that the Greek revolution was ethnocentric—barely a social rebellion against an unpopular regime, in emulation of the (failed) French Revolution—and, consequently, that the independence of Greece would mark the beginning of a new era, in which the natural (anti-hegemonic, anti-colonial) principle of ethnicity would replace the artificial (hegemonic-colonial) principle of legitimacy. Therefore, the Greek War of Independence brought the nations of Europe and their right of ethnic self-determination, regardless of the size of every nation's population, to the fore of the European political stage. Consequently, it is from Greece were the revolution and emancipation of the nations spun off at a pan-European level, or even (given the Eurocentrism of the era) at a global level.
In that evolutionary context, the philhellenic proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine undermined and shook the very foundations of the Holy Alliance (which collapsed in the following year, 1824), and signaled the beginning of the end of allempires, i.e. not only the multinational empires (like Metternich's Austrian Empire or the Sultan's Ottoman Empire) but also the colonial empires as well, due to the two successful ethnic revolutions in the “Age of Revolution”(Hobsbaum 1961): the ethnogenic American Revolution in the New World in the 18th century, and the ethno-liberating Greek Revolution in the Old World in the 19th century. Indeed, as reflected on subsequent historical developments worldwide, since small Greece managed to be liberated (from barbarous imperial yoke) in the 19th century, it would thereafter be inconceivable for great India not to be liberated as well (from comparatively civilized colonial dependence) in the 20th century.
The enormous power and the chaotic dynamic of nationalism when it becomes idealistic (patriotic), are implied in the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, whereby the U.S. President attributed the military and naval triumphs of the Greeks, against the armies and fleets of a huge (tricontinental) empire, to the purely idealistic value system of the Greek forefighters, by his saying that “the ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition with a view to aggrandizement, which mingles so much in the transactions of nations, seem to have had no effect in regard to them” in 1821-1823. That splendid deduction of John Quincy Adams, as to the ethno-liberating (or even chaotic) potential of (idealistic) patriotism, would be ever since, until World War II, the cornerstone of the anti-colonial foreign policy of the U.S., that for many decades was looking forward to the inevitable (or even teleological) dissolution of all colonial empires.
Another pertinent deduction of John Quincy Adams, as proclaimed in the Monroe Doctrine, is of lasting importance: President Monroe stated that the prime factors of the victories of the Greeks were “their cause and their name” that“have protected them from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people”. That is, according to the view of the U.S. Government, the Greek victories in war zones were due to the idealistic ehno-patriotic cause of the Greek revolutionaries (national independence and political freedom), while the effective protection of Ecumenical Hellenism by Russia in non-combatant regions, under the shield of the Russian ultimatum (1821) and the subsequent threat of Russo-Turkish war in 1821-1826, was due to the historical name of Greece as the cradle of Western (Greco-Roman and Christian) Civilization. In sum, according to the mutual point of view shared by both James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, as far as Greece is concerned, the ethno-patriotic cause of the Greeks and their uniquely great name legacy (“Greece”, “Hellas”, “Ionia”, “Crete”, “Cyprus”, “Macedonia”, etc.) are fundamental factors of national security and, as such, non-negotiable and hardly amenable to any cession, then and ever after.
- The Greek response to the reactionary (counter-revolutionary) deliberations of the European monarchs at Verona, was not only military (the liberation of Nafplion in October 29 – December 3, 1822) but had also been diplomatic: The Greek Government had managed to submit to the Congress at Verona—with the effective philhellenic mediation of Pope Pius III—an official “declaration” (“Δηλοποίησις”, signed on August 29, 1822) that among other issues pointed out the Ottoman genocidal threat against the Greek nation, as follows:
“ European Turkey, Asia and Africa are arming themselves, competing with each other to support the iron hand that has oppressed the Greek nation for so long and has been tending to exterminate that nationentirely.”
(“῾Η εὐρωπαϊκή Τουρκία, ἡ ᾿Ασία καὶ ἡ ᾿Αφρική ἐξοπλίζονται ἁμιλλώμεναι πρὸς ἀλλήλας διὰ νὰ ὑποστηρίξωσι τὴν σιδηρᾶν χεῖρα τὴν καταπιέσασαν τοσοῦτον χρόνον τὸ ἑλληνικόν ἔθνος καὶ τείνουσαν ὅλως εἰς τὸ νὰ τὸἐξολοθρεύσῃ.”)
Even more, the Greek response was also humanistic: Under strict orders of the Government of the neonate democratic Greek state, the liberation of Nafplion was orderly, i.e. without retaliatory massacres against the (surrendered) Turkish defenders of Nafplion. On December 3, 1822, Kolokotronis ordered the Greek troops to stay outside the gates of Nafplion, in order to avert looting or even such massacres. The Turkish defenders of Nafplion embarked on Greek ships under Greek Admiral Miaoulis, as well as on the English frigate Cambrian under Captain Hamilton, on December 12, 1822, and thereafter were transported safely to non-combatant Anatolia (to Smyrna and Kusadasi), in accordance with the terms of the pertinent treaty of their capitulation.
- The main text of the Monroe Doctrine:
“ 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 station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that thewhole civilized world take 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 protected 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 mingles 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 forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most ardent wishes.
It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked that the result has been so far very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe, with which we have so much intercourse and from which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators.
The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.
It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers.
The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.
We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security.
The late events in Spain and Portugal show that Europe is still unsettled. Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced than that the allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed by force in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same principle, is a question in which all independent powers whose governments differ from theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none more so than the United States.
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 just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none.
But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and those new Governments, and their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.”
This monograph is an adapted excerpt from the author's e-book entitled
κατά τής Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας τό 1821:
ch. 15, pp. 80-105.