The Philhellenism Museum, in collaboration with the Center for Hellenic Studies of Greece at Harvard, are organizing a workshop on the theme: “Art and Philhellenism. Lord Byron and the philhellenic visual culture of the 19th century”.

The workshop will take place on 9-10 March 2024, 11:00 – 15:00.

The academic coordination will be undertaken by Dr. Theodoros Koutsogiannis (Curator of the Hellenic Parliament Art Collection, Harvard CHS Fellow in Philhellenism 2023-24) and the activity administration by Ms. Matina Goga (KES).

For information and applications:



Dr. Niki Kalogiratou presents her children’s book “Heraclitus and the Mystery of Cayster River” at the Philhellenism Museum, a work that has attracted the interest of both young readers and adults who love ancient Greek philosophy and culture.

The author, with an academic background in philosophy and experience in marketing, public relations, and the media, combines her knowledge with her love of children’s literature, presenting a work aimed at children aged 6-12. The book follows the adventures of young Heraclitus and his dog, Kyon, as they search for the source of their hometown’s main river, with Heraclitus making observations about the natural environment and expressing his philosophical thoughts on the ever-changing world.

The book highlights the importance of Heraclitus’ philosophy, presenting ten exact passages in translation, together with elements of ancient Greek history and culture. It encourages young readers to look for deeper meanings in everyday life and to reflect on the constant changes in their lives and environment.

The presentation will take place on November 19, 2023, and will include an interactive workshop for children, where they will be able to explore philosophical topics through activities that will stimulate their imagination and thinking. The workshop will be open to children from 6 to 12 years old and participation is free, subject to prior registration due to a limited number of places.

Dr. Kalogiratou will be available for discussion and autographs after the presentation, and the book will be available for purchase in the museum shop.

For more information and registration, contact the Philhellenic Museum by email at

Location: Philhellenism Museum
Address: 12 Zisimopoulou, 11524 Athens
Date: 19 November 2023
Time: 11:00-13:00
Workshop Duration: About 2 hours
Suitable for ages: 6-12 years
Admission: Free (pre-registration required)
Phone: 210-8094750



Christos S. Bartsocas

Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics

University of Athens



Among the numerous historical sites of Boston, the Greek visitor must definitely visit the frigate USS CONSTITUTION, moored at the Charlestown Naval Base. This frigate significantly supported our country in the Struggle for Independence of 1821, as we will see below (Fig. 1).



Fig. 1 The USS CONSTITUTION today, moored at the historic Charlestown Naval Station (Boston).

It is impressive how the Independence of the United States of America was influenced by ancient Greece and especially by the ancient Greek theories and institutions about Democracy, but also by its culture. The Greek Literature provided an important supply of studies in European universities during the 18th and 19th centuries, while ancient Greek texts and language were taught in the best schools of Europe and the USA. The spirit of modern Hellenism was clearly created and established, as it is evident in the public buildings erected that period. Simultaneously, visitors and travelers were visiting Ottoman-occupied Greece, described their impressions (Pouqueville), wrote poems (Byron, Shelley), painted (Dodwell), but unfortunately also were collecting antiquities, either for trade or for the enrichment of private collections.

The enthusiasm that developed for ancient Greece, Greek culture and its values, included the undivided interest, the sympathy of the Americans, who only in 1776 had gained their independence from the Crown of Great Britain. Enthusiastic speeches about Greece in the American Congress, with a wider appeal mainly to the educated people of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, contributed in the early 19th century to the establishment of philhellenic committees to support the oppressed. Some young philhellenes such as Dr. Samuel G. Howe, George Jarvis, William Washington and others, left the security of their homeland and of course the warmth of their families,

Unfortunately, the official American government could not come to the aid of the struggling Greeks because of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), which forbade the military involvement of Americans in Europe, but also Europeans in America, thus dictating a strict neutrality.


The Monroe Doctrine

US President James Monroe, in his annual address to the US Congress in 1823, included a warning to European powers not to get involved in operations in the Western Hemisphere. The reason for James Monroe’s statement, which was described as the Monroe Doctrine, was the continuing involvement of Britain, mainly in North America, France, North Africa, Spain in Latin America, and Russia in West North America (from Alaska to Oregon). The US Secretary of State persuaded President Monroe to issue this unilateral declaration of US foreign policy. Thus, the Western Hemisphere closed for continued European colonization and the United States would no longer interfere in European affairs.

In contrast to the US government, which maintained a neutral stance, there was clear broad support for the Greeks from the American people. However, the American trade relations with the Ottoman Empire were also remarkable, mainly through Izmir.

US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams feared that participating in the Greek Independence Struggle would damage US trade and pose a threat to his country’s economy.

In order to deal with the protection and safe navigation in the Mediterranean, Monroe sent to Greece in 1822 a fleet of the most powerful US warships to protect American trade. Among the ships was the frigate USS CONSTITUTION.


The frigate CONSTITUTION and its action until 1820

The frigate USS CONSTITUTION, later with the nickname OLD IRONSIDES due to its metal shield, is a wooden three-mast boat, displacing 2,200 tons. It has a length of 93 meters (53m. On the waterline) and a height of 60.67m. and 52.60m. respectively in its sails. Its reef depth is 4.34m. Its speed is 13 knots. The crew consisted of 450 men, including 55 marines and 30 sailors. The equipment consisted of 30×24 pound long guns, 20×32 pound carronades and 2×24 pound bow pursuers. The ship was built in Boston in 1797 and initially participated in the protection of American merchant ships in the Mediterranean, against French ships, as well to eradicate the North African pirates (Barbary Pirates War) (Fig. 2)



Fig. 2 «To USS Constitution». Painting by Nicolo Camillieri (1824).

In the war of 1812 she captured many merchant ships, but also defeated five British warships, HMS GUERRIERE, JAVA, PICTOU, CYANE and LEVANT. As a flagship she continued to participate in the fleets of the Mediterranean and Africa and in 1840 she went around the world. During the American Civil War the CONSTITUTION was used as a training boat at the US Naval Academy. It retired from active service in 1881 and fortunately was not destroyed, but has been designated as a museum ship since 1907.

The CONSTITUTION Diary contains interesting information about its activities, naval attitudes towards enemy (French and English), but also friendly ships. Impressive are the adventures of the frigate in the Mediterranean, where it was particularly distinguished. It should be added that the United States had paid a ransom to the North African states to ensure the safety of its merchant ships. But in 1801 Yusuf Karamanli (1766-1838), Pasha of Tripoli (Libya), was dissatisfied with the US, claiming that he had been cheated by receiving a smaller amount than they had given to Algeria and demanded immediate payment of $ 250,000. This forced President Thomas Jefferson to send a fleet of frigates to protect American merchant ships in the Mediterranean, but also to make peace with the nations of Barbary. As flagship the CONSTITUTION fleet commander sailed from Boston on August 14, 1803 with instructions not to allow a new blockade. A typical meeting was with the British HMS MAIDSTONE, with which it avoided a last-minute exchange of fire in Gibraltar on 6 September. With instructions to release two American ships and their crews, Captain Edward Preble, commander of the fleet, entered Tangier and succeeded in returning the seized ships to the Americans. On October 31, the frigate PHILADELPHIA ran aground in the shallows, chasing a ship from Tripoli. The Libyans, however, detached it and towed it, as confiscated, to the port of Tripoli. With an impressive entry of the ship MASTICO in Tripoli on February 16, 1804, as a supposedly commercially renamed INTREPID, and occupied by the Americans, Governor Stephen Decatur set fire to PHILADELPHIA. The fleet (CONSTITUTION, ARGUS, ENTERPRISE, SCOURGE, SYREN), reinforced by 6 smaller boats (missiles, etc.), arrived in Tripoli on August 3, 1804 and began bombing the port, with heavy losses to Libya, without Libya being defeated. Karamanli had to back down in his demands. However, returning to Malta for repairs on August 11, CONSTITUTION arrested two Greek boats transporting wheat to Tripoli.  .

A Peace Treaty with Tripoli was signed at the CONSTITUTION on June 3, 1805 and with Tunis on August 14 after its exclusion.

The CONSTITUTION, with two other warships, the ENTERPRISE and the HORNET, remained for patrols in the Mediterranean, monitoring the activities of the French and English fleets during the Napoleonic Wars. An incident between the American warship CHESAPEAKE and the British HMS LEOPARD, resulted in the preparation of the ship for war with the British. Because the CONSTITUTION crew then rebelled and demanded the immediate return of the ship to the United States, Captain Hugh G. Campbell fired cannon at the insurgents, who retreated. The ship finally returned to Boston on October 14, 1807, after four years of operations in the Mediterranean, crossing the Atlantic in 36 days.

Repairs costing about $ 100,000 followed, but without removing the copper shields, which characterized the ship as a “slow traveler”. Finally, after two years of training of the crew and the usual moves, the new captain of the CONSTITUTION Isaac Hull decided to clean the ship, withdrawing “ten wagons of straw and seaweed”! It set sail for France on 5 August 1811 and remained in the winter near the coasts of France and the Netherlands in readiness for hostilities with the British. He returned to Boston on February 18, 1812, bringing back messages from US Ambassador Joel Barlow, whom he had brought to settle in France. The presence of the ship disturbed the British fleet, consisting of five ships, HMS APOLUS, AFRICA, BELVIDERA, GUERRIERE and SHANNON, which chased the CONSTITUTION as far as the shores of Egg Harbor, New Jersey on July 17, 1812. Captain Hull ordered boats to be placed on the sides of the ship to tow it out of bounds, applying small anchors to tow it and splashing the sails to take advantage of any wind gusts. British ships imitated the installation of small anchors by continuing the pursuit. Rifles were exchanged several times during the 57-hour chase. CONSTITUTION, to alleviate, had to empty 8.7 tons of drinking water into the sea! Eventually, the British abandoned the pursuit on July 19, 1812.

The ship made its supplies in Boston from July 27, sailed again on August 2, 1812 for patrols in the British navigation lanes in Saint Lawrence Bay, Canada. There she captured three merchant ships, which he burned.

On the 19th of August the British frigate HMS GUERRIERE was seen, which fired on the CONSTITUTION causing light damage. Nevertheless, with skillful handling, Captain Hull brought the CONSTITUTION to a lateral advantage, 23 meters from the GUERRIERE. He then ordered a full double-barreled fire, which destroyed the stern mast of GUERRIERE. The flexibility of the GUERRIERE was limited, while the stern mast was dragged into the sea and finally collided with the CONSTITUTION, entangling the cantilever of its ship with the stern of the latter. Thus, only some of the GUERRIERE cannons were capable of being used. The Hull Bridge ignited and while the captains ordered a raid on the other ship as the two ships were huddled together, the turmoil prevented the battle. When the two ships were separated, the cantilever separation forces sent strong waves to the GUERRIERE dependency. The main mast sank and the ship without masts, cumbersome, with one third of the crew injured or dead, forced the English captain to surrender (Fig. 3).



The naval battle of the two frigates left GUERRIERE severely damaged and unworthy of towing, so after the transfer of the British captives to the CONSTITUTION, GUERRIERE was set on fire. It is worth noting that Hull and his crew were welcomed by heroes when they returned to Boston on August 30.

With William Bainbridge as their new Commander-in-Chief, the CONSTITUTION and HORNET prepared for a mission against the British Navy near Brazil, where they approached São Salvaron and spotted HMS BONNE CITOYENNE on 13 December. There were reports that the ship was loaded with items worth $ 1.6 million for England. While HORNET was waiting for BONNE CITOYENNE to leave the neutral port, CONSTITUTION sailed, and on December 29 was involved in a collision with HMS JAVA. JAVA responded with cannon fire to the CONSTITUTION salute, resulting in severe damage to the CONSTITUTION sails. The latter responded with a series of side artillery shells, while a JAVA shot destroyed the CONSTITUTION steering wheel. Captain Bainbridge, then twice wounded, ordered the crew to manually steer. The JAVA cantilever became involved with the CONSTITUTION dependency allowing Bainbridge to continue firing with the side guns. Fortunately for him, the JAVA front sail sank and as an unfortunate wreck and with many injured on the crew, it was delivered. Bainbridge ordered to set it on fire after rescuing the steering wheel, which was repositioned at the CONSTITUTION.  After three repeated skirmishes, the British Admiralty ordered the British frigates to no longer collide with the heavier American frigates, with the exception of being allowed mainly when fleets approached for artillery attack.

After major repairs, the CONSTITUTION for the West Indies sailed again on December 31, 1813, to threaten British ships. She captured five commercial ships and the HMS PICTOU, equipped with 14 guns in March 1814. She then tore its main sail outside Bermuda and while sailing on March 27 for new repairs in Boston was unsuccessfully pursued by the British HMS JUNON and TENEDOS to April 3. After landing in Boston protected by coastal guns, she remained there for repairs until December 1814.

Since the British Navy was suffering heavy losses from the Americans, it was decided to send the HMS LEANDER to reinforce and deal with the American frigates. On December 18, the CONSTITUTION sailed again from Boston to Bermuda. She was then unsuccessfully pursued by the British fleet consisting of LEANDER, NEWCASTLE and ACASTA, under Captain George Collier. On December 24, 1814 the CONSTITUTION occupied and staffed with its own crew the commercial LORD NELSON, from which it confiscated rich supplies. In addition at Cape Finisterre on February 16, 1815, CONSTITUTION captured the English merchant ship SUSANNA loaded with animal skins, valued at $ 75,000.

On February 20, the CONSTITUTION chased the light British CYANE and LEVANT, who tried to sidestep it. While LEVANT retreated for repairs, CYANE showed off its colors. This was repeated when LEVANT came back in support of CYANE and finally surrendered. When the CONSTITUTION was repairing its damage, it was found that twelve shells were embedded in the wall of the boat, which fortunately had not pierced it.

Sailing to Guinea and then to Brazil, Captain Stewart was informed that HMS INCONSTANT was transporting gold to England, which he sought to seize as booty. Then came the news of the Ghent Treaty and the end of the war, so the CONSTITUTION sailed victorious in New York on May 15th. Unfortunately, the other two sister ships, the CHESAPEAKE and the PRESIDENT, were seized in 1813 and 1815. The CONSTITUTION moved to Boston, where it remained until January 1816.


The Mediterranean Fleet

In April 1820 the CONSTITUTION moored at Boston Charlestown Naval Base (where it is presently moored) for repairs and improvements. Two more tanks of drinking water were added and the copper cladding and timber on the ship’s reefs were replaced. Paddle wheels operated by the crew were added using manual rollers, which propelled the ship up to 3 knots at rest. However, the above were removed as not suitable for a warship and were stored in the ship’s cargo depots, before departing on May 13, 1821 for a three-year patrol in the Mediterranean. On April 12, 1823, it collided with the British merchant ship BICTON, which sank. He finally sailed back to Boston on May 31, 1824.

It was then considered that the ship had fulfilled its purpose and was to be decommissioned, since the life of a frigate at that time was estimated at 10 to 15 years.

Again, however, the CONSTITUTION sailed for the Mediterranean on October 29, 1824, under the command of Thomas Macdonough, who resigned for health reasons on October 9, 1825, after repairing his damaged warehouses in Port Mahon. Temporary repairs were not completed until March 1827, when the frigate returned to Boston and was put in reserve on July 4, 1828.

The intense military activity of the CONSTITUTION continued until 1848, when it was ordered to the Mediterranean and with the outbreak of the American Civil War eventually participated as a training ship of the Annapolis Naval Academy.


The action of the USS CONSTITUTION in the Aegean (1824-1828)

Occasionally, ignoring American neutrality in the Greek Revolution, the USS CONSTITUTION crew went from a neutral stance to actively participating in the conflict with Turkey.

Visits of American ships were not rare in the Greek islands after 1821. The following letter of G. Koundouriotis from Hydra is also characteristic:

June 20, 1822

Yesterday, three American ships arrived here, a frigate, in a curvature and a shotgun…, they sent an officer… the following were sent, Georgios Gionis, Anagnostis Economou and one of us… (Georgios Kountouriotis).

It was obvious that the naval squadron was hesitant, keeping its distance from the ardent desire to provide humanitarian aid to the struggling Greeks, but also to ensure safe US trade with the Ottoman Empire.

Of course, the USS CONSTITUTION’s primary mission in the Mediterranean was to protect American merchant ships. It should be noted that several of them carried supplies for the suffering Greeks. According to the diary of Marine William Fleming, from his experiences on the USS CONSTITUTION, there were cases where the frigate protected American merchant ships carrying supplies for the Greeks.

The invitation of the philanthropist Samuel Gridley Howe (Fig. 4) to the CONSTITUTION should also be mentioned in a letter to Captain Patterson (Fig. 5) from Nafplio on May 31, 1827 to support the CHANCELLOR, which sailed from New York, with supplies for distribution to the starving Greeks.

Fig. 4 Doctor Samuel Gridley Howe (doctor in KARTERIA).


Fig. 5 The Master of CONSTITUTION, Daniel Patterson.

Patterson immediately went to protect CHANCELLOR and the FORTUNE kettle and to oversee the distribution of supplies. The above are indications of CONSTITUTION’s interest in participating in American humanitarian efforts to help the Greeks.

An incident is also reported in July 1826, while the CONSTITUTION sailed along the coast of Salamis. From the shore some locals signaled and Captain Patterson took them aboard. These unfortunate Greeks asked for some supplies for their starving families. Knowing the US Navy bans on strict neutrality for inactive involvement or support of Greeks and Turks, Patterson found a way to overcome it. He offered to give a quantity of supplies to the Greeks and they in return to give him a Greek statue to transport to the United States! However, it is unknown whether Captain Patterson made the transaction as a charity or out of a desire to acquire an ancient Greek statue.

The sympathy of the American Naval Squadron for the Mediterranean for the Greeks is typical. The US Navy, however, formally wanted to remain on friendly terms with the Ottoman Empire, protecting American trade. At that time, Captain Rodgers met repeatedly with Turkish Fleet Commander Kapudan Pasha, but unsuccessfully sought a peace treaty. The US Navy wanted to maintain trade with the Ottomans and for this reason it wanted the presence of American ships in the Aegean to be obvious.


George Sirian and the USS CONSTITUTION (July 22, 1824)

Turkish fleet arrives in Psara. Turkish soldiers land on the island and immediately begin their bloody work, executing the entire Greek population. An unfortunate Psarian mother just manages to board her six-year-old son in a dinghy hoping to be rescued from a friendly ship. She was executed on the spot by the Turks in front of her unfortunate son George.

He was rescued by the crew of the USS CONSTITUTION, in whose diary he was recorded as George Sirian (1818-1891). Because the ship’s neutrality did not allow the hosting of Greek refugees, USS CONSTITUTION’s Captain Daniel Patterson bypassed the dilemma and enlisted George as a crew member of the US Navy on the ship from May 1827. George from the rank of “sailor-boy” was promoted to full-time sailor until the ship arrived in Boston Harbor on July 4, 1828. However, he was lucky as Lieutenant Robert Randolph took care of the young refugee and then supported his education (Fig. 6).


Fig. 6 The young George Sirian (George Sirian).

George was trained in the practice of artillery and pyrotechnics by the US Navy by gunner George Marshall and on April 20, 1827 he was anointed “gunner”. Three years later he married Eleanor the daughter of his trainer. His descendants live and have been honored for their Greek ancestor.

During his naval career, George Sirian participated in 37 service tours on 20 ships and 7 land stations. His service as an artillery instructor at the Naval Academy during the USS CONSTITUTION World Tour during the American Civil War, as well as in Japan and Hong Kong. George Sirian served in the US Navy until 1880, for 53 consecutive years, the year he retired (Figs. 7-8).


Fig. 7 The Commander of the US Navy, George Sirian (Sarigiannis).


Fig. 8 George Sirian Roadmap for service on CONSTITUTION.

He died in Portsmouth, Virginia on December 21, 1891. In his honor and in his memory  the US Navy established “The George Sirian Meritorious Award”, which is awarded annually at the USS CONSTITUTION to distinguished originators from across the fleet.

Sirian was noted for his bravery in the battles in which he participated. In his obituary in the Alexandria Gazette on December 22, 1891, he was likened to a fierce warrior with his ancient ancestors, the Marathon Warriors and the heroes of Thermopylae and Plataeae.

On July 4, 1826, Americans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of United States Independence. The sailors of CONSTITUTION, which sailed between Tenedos and the coasts of Asia Minor, are also ready to celebrate. Captain Daniel Patterson sent a dinghy with some sailors to pick up supplies for the ship. Around 11:20 a.m. the crew realized that a Turkish fleet was approaching, consisting of frigates and schooners. The fleet was returning from the Dardanelles, where a naval battle had been fought with the Greeks and was heading towards the American Squadron. An alarm on the CONSTITUTION announced that the escort ship USS NORTH CAROLINA had ordered the crew to take up the battle positions. The drums sounded the alarm at the CONSTITUTION and the crew was preparing for a naval battle.

Captain Rodgers on NORTH CAROLINA ordered a July 4 salute with 21 artillery shells. The Turks considered the greeting to be in their honor and reciprocated the courtesy. The compliments continued for the next three days and on July 7 the schooner USS PORPOISE welcomed Kapudan Pasha and hoisted the Turkish flag on the bow mast.

Throughout July 1826, the American Squadron and the Turkish Fleet exchanged frequent visits and formalities. Captain Rodgers had frequent meetings with Kapudan Pasha, hoping to sign a trade agreement with the Ottomans. A detailed description of Rodgers’s meeting with Kapudan Pasha on July 14, 1826 is given by Fleming.

The USS CONSTITUTION received a visit from Konstantinos Kanaris on May 11, 1827. As Fleming describes: “Admiral Kanaris visited our ship accompanied by other Greek officials. He is a man of about 35 years old, short, stocky, with dark piercing eyes, and he is very gentle, modest character. He is one of the bravest men that the Greeks have and his brave achievements made his name popular with his compatriots “.

With the same admiration, Fleming describes Theodoros Kolokotronis, who visited the ship on June 1, 1827, as follows: “While we were at a standstill, the Greek General Kolokotronis visited us. He is about 50 years old, tall, with impressive features, and decisive style. He is at the same time a very majestic-looking man and a great warrior. The Greek soldiers look forward to him as the main supporter in the fight for freedom. His whole appearance, his bravery, is seldom not victorious in the action in which he leads them “.

An interesting book, based on the Ship Diary, was published in 1997 by former USS CONSTITUTION Commander Tyrone Martin, entitled “A Most Fortunate Ship: A Narrative History of Old Ironsides.” There Martin states: “On June 1, 1827, Captain (Daniel T. Patterson) had to disembark (in Nafplion) in order to settle a problem he had with the management of some supplies, which had arrived on the American ship CHANTICLEAR, and as was obvious they would get into the wrong hands. In cooperation with the authorities, things were quickly settled. The Greek General Kolokotronis arrived for an official visit on the ship during the day “.

Both Greek leaders and heroes, “Admiral” Konstantinos Kanaris and “General” Theodoros Kolokotronis, are presented as brave men of the Greek Revolution. Both are described by Fleming, with the same admiration with which the Americans referred to George Washington and his participation in the American Independence Struggle. Although Fleming does not seem to express direct bias towards the Greeks, the favorable descriptions of the Greeks in relation to the objective descriptions of Kapudan Pasha expose a blatant bias in favor of the Greek officers.

USS CONSTITUTION’s petty- officer Edward Clearwater mentions a battle between Greeks and Turks on May 14, 1827. In his description, Clearwater repeatedly refers to the “poor Greeks.” For example, describing American merchant ships that arrived with supplies for the Greeks on May 18, 1827, he states: “The FORLINE kettle with Governor Harris arrived from Philadelphia after a 56-day voyage with supplies for the poor Greeks.” On May 24, 1827, Clearwater describes: “At 5 p.m. The American ship CHANCELLOR arrived with supplies from New York for the poor Greeks “.

As Americans Abroad, USS CONSTITUTION sailors reflected American opinion and their desire to support the Greek Struggle for Freedom. Due to American neutrality, neither Marine William Fleming nor probation officer Edward Clearwater immediately expressed support for either the Greeks or the Turks. Their observations, however, are the result of direct observation.

The Protestant scholar and priest of the USS CONSTITUTION George Jones described in detail his visit to Milos and the Liturgy of Good Friday. He was impressed by the abundance of Orthodox Churches, many of which were simple and small, while other large churches were decorated with frescoes, domes and offerings. Surprised, he mentions the Orthodox priests and their vestments, the churches without pews and the women on the left, while the men on the right side of the church. He even stressed the important differences between the Orthodox and the Protestant Church.

As a tutor on the ship, George Jones, had repeated opportunities to visit various areas that the CONSTITUTION visited. It should be noted that he also wrote particularly flattering comments about the Turks he met.



US diplomacy clearly relied on the Navy as a means of conducting its policy calmly and informally. It is obvious that with the Mediterranean mission of the USS CONSTITUTION from 1824 to 1828, the frigate contributed to the Greek Struggle for Independence. It is noted that the United States did not strictly adhere to neutrality. On the one hand, they facilitated the efforts of the American Philhellenic Committees to provide humanitarian aid to the unfortunate Greeks, on the other hand, they did not negotiate treaties with the Ottoman Empire without result.

And while many American politicians and ordinary people agreed with the philhellenic statements of celebrities, such as President Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, Harvard University President Edward Everett, and Daniel Webster’s famous speech to Congress, that it was a moral obligation of America to support Greece, it is obvious that officially the American Government has never supported us. Fortunately, the USS CONSTITUTION was discreetly on our side in the Struggle for Independence. The Americans even consider the USS CONSTITUTION a National Monument and honored it with a stamp in 1947 (Fig. 9).


Fig. 9 USS Commemorative Stamp with USS CONSTITUTION (1947).


Brodine CE, Crawford MJ, Hughes CF: Ironsides! The Ship, the Men and the Wars of the USS Constitution, Fireship Press, 2007.

Fitz-Enz DG: Ironsides: Eagle of the Sea. The Story of the USS Constitution, Lanham Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004.

“Log Lines”, Research and Collections at the USS Constitution Museum.

Martin TG: A Most Fortunate Ship, Guilford: Globe Pequot Press, 1980.

Martin TG: A Most Fortunate Ship. A Narrative History of “Old Ironsides”, Naval Institute Press, 1997.

Toll IW: Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the US Navy, WW Norton, New York, 2006.



Le philhellène portugais António Figueira de Almeida (collection SHP)

Article de Maria Manuela Tavares Ribeiro, Professeure titulaire émérite de la Faculté des Lettres de l’Université de Coimbra. Chercheure au Centre d’Etudes Interdisciplinaires de l’Université de Coimbra

Après 1820 au Portugal, le débat politique sur les formules concrètes de gouvernement et le régime constitutionnel et parlementaire devient de plus en plus vif. Afin qu’advienne le changement politique auquel ils aspirent, beaucoup tiennent pour nécessaire une pratique insurrectionnelle, dont la viabilité et l’internationalisation se font jour, au cours de la décennie 1820-1830, dans l’espace européen.

C’est dans cette conjoncture révolutionnaire que les libéraux portugais exilés entrent dans la voie de l’insurrection et de l’internationalisme. La solidarité entre les partisans du mouvement révolutionnaire et de l’internationalisme apparaissait indispensable, seule l’union des forces à l’échelle internationale pouvant favoriser chacune des subversions nationales. La cause des peuples – d’Espagne, d’Italie, de Portugal, de France et de Grèce – était la même – celle d’un mouvement patriotique européen, et non pas d’une “conjuration internationale”, quedénonçaient les agents de l’absolutisme. Ainsi, constitutionnalisme, soulèvements insurrectionnels et internationalisme expliquent l’atmosphère de conspiration régnant alors dans toute Europe[1].

Dans ce contexte, la composante militaire est un aspect essentiel de la stratégie politique “como fórmula de subversión al servicio del liberalismo de la época”[2].

Durant la période libérale, après la révolution de 1820, au Portugal, la relation avec les libéraux étrangers se resserre et on voit grandir l’intérêt pour les mouvements révolutionnaires en Espagne, en Italie, en Grèce. Révolutionnaires libéraux et militaires portugais vont prendre part à ces mouvements, notamment en Grèce.

Les libéraux portugais se tournent vers la Méditerranée. Voyons pourquoi.

Le Portugal avait subi l’invasion des armées napoléoniennes à partir de 1808. La Cour, avec le roi João VI et de nombreux membres des élites, s’était installée au Brésil. La vieille alliance avec l’Angleterre se maintenait. Il importait de protéger le vaste empire portugais dans l’Atlantique et seule la force navale anglaise permettait de le faire ; il était urgent de défendre le pays face à une possible invasion des armées espagnoles et françaises. Et cela en dépit de la diversification du commerce externe avec la France, avec l’Italie, en plus de l’Angleterre.

La monarchie portugaise représentait, pour l’indépendance de la Grèce, un appui stratégique à la révolution. Ce qui explique la présence de Nikolao Kefalas au Portugal en 1822 précisément au moment où la question de l’indépendance du Brésil absorbait l’attention du gouvernement portugais. La délégation grecque repartit de Lisbonne pour Rio de Janeiro, et des documents montrent l’intention de l’un des fils de João VI, D. Pedro, libéral, ou D. Miguel, légitimiste, de monter sur le trône grec. On lit dans le journal O Campeão Portuguez qu’une telle prétention suscita une polémique. Mais la question de l’indépendance du Brésil faisait passer au second plan la prétention de la Grèce, ce qui fut considéré comme un “acte de couardise de la part du gouvernement portugais”[3]. En 1822, le libéral José Liberato Freire de Carvalho écrivait : “Le Capitaine Nicolas Chiefala … espère que son passage à Lisbonne rapportera quelque chose de plus pour les intérêts mutuels du Portugal et de la Grèce”[4].

Une des causes qui ont suscité le plus d’enthousiasme en Europe dans les années 20 du 19e siècle, parmi les libéraux de diverses nations, fut l’indépendance de la Grèce. En 1821, les Grecs se révoltaient contre l’Empire Ottoman et, en peu de temps, le philhellénisme se répandait dans l’Europe entière. En 1822, des comités grecs s’étaient formés à Madrid, Stuttgart, Munich, Zurich, Berne, Genève, Paris, Marseille, puis aux Etats-Unis. De nombreuses personnalités soutenaient les causes libérales européennes, particulièrement celles de la Péninsule ibérique, les italiennes et la grecque. On y voyait autant de luttes, légitimes, pour l’indépendance, contre la soumission à un pouvoir politique étranger, France, Autriche, Empire Ottoman[5].

Mais le mouvement libéral se renforce au Portugal avec les révolutions libérales en Espagne, en Italie, en Grèce. Le grec Nicolao Kefalas et le ministre portugais Silvestre Pinheiro Ferreira entament des pourparlers. Pinheiro Ferreira adresse une lettre au prince Alexandros Mavrokordatos et au métropolite Ignace leur proposant une alliance politique qui serait négociée avec le gouvernement de Napoli di Romania (Nafplio)[6], ce qui attestait l’importance attribuée à l’espace méditerranéen, régénéré par la liberté, dans l’émergence d’un nouvel ordre international. Le Portugal devait s’y intégrer. Le moment était particulièrement opportun alors que le Brésil s’affranchissait de la tutelle portugaise[7].

La fédération méditerranéenne

Selon le ministre portugais de la Guerre et des Affaires Étrangères, Silvestre Pinheiro Ferreira, grand admirateur de la culture classique grecque, l’insurrection hellénique contre le “despotisme musulman” devait avoir des répercussions profondes sur le continent européen. Il affirmait: “la cause de la défense de la Grèce est notre cause. C’est pourquoi les efforts pour la faire triompher devraient être communs à tous les peuples qui, comme le peuple grec, se sont constitués en nations par leur énergie propre”[8].

A cette lumière, le ministre portugais proposait une union politique avec la Grèce, sous la forme d’une fédération élargie à l’Espagne. Une ligue méditerranéenne, assurait-il, “ferait trembler les trônes des despotes”. Cette ligue annoncerait l’abolition des décisions prises au Congrès de Vienne (1814-1815). Une telle fédération des puissances méridionales proposée au gouvernement grec par le ministre portugais constituerait la première étape de la “Grande Fédération des peuples libres”. Elle serait la meilleure façon de garantir l’indépendance des nations. Le modèle à suivre, à ses yeux, était le système fédératif des États-Unis, avec un parlement commun des nations libres fédérées[9].

Le ministre Silvestre Pinheiro Ferreira considérait comme stratégique le déploiement d’une politique méditerranéenne fondée sur la solidarité libérale internationale. Il le montrait dans sa proposition d’alliance avec la Grèce formulée en 1822. Cependant, l’envoyé anglais était arrivé à Lisbonne. Il faut faire pression sur l’allié britannique afin de garantir le régime libéral et d’éviter des attaques de l’étranger. La Méditerranée était en effet pour les libéraux portugais l’espace qui pourrait diminuer, sinon rompre, la vieille alliance luso-britannique. Cette idée d’un internationalisme méditerranéen destiné à résister à l’Angleterre perdure dans la décennie 1820 et pendant la guerre civile portugaise de 1832-1834 entre libéraux et légitimistes.

Une question se pose alors : cette proposition de fédération est-elle une tentative pour construire un nouvel ordre international?

Favorisé par cette atmosphère anglophobe, un sentiment antibritannique grandit au sein de la révolution libérale portugaise. Certains révolutionnaires portugais déplorent l’assujettissement à l’Angleterre et la situation du Portugal, y voyant une “colonie de sa colonie ”. Un tel affaiblissement était causé, d’un côté, par la sortie au Brésil des capitaux avec la Couronne et les élites et, de l’autre, par une politique impérialiste anglaise qui se maintint après le Traité de 1810. Selon le libéral José Liberato Freire de Carvalho et le député libéral Manuel Borges Carneiro, l’indépendance du Brésil réduisait en effet le Portugal à l’état de colonie britannique.

La présence à Lisbonne en 1828 de l’ambassadeur anglais William A’Court, qui avait été présent à Palerme en 1814 lorsque fut abolie la constitution sicilienne et, à Madrid, en 1823, quand succomba le régime libéral, renforça la solidarité des libéraux portugais avec les révolutionnaires de l’Europe méridionale[10]. Rappelons par exemple le sentiment d’un illustre écrivain romantique, Almeida Garrett, dans son livre Portugal na Balança da Europa, de 1830, quand il se réfère à la position du Portugal dans le nouveau cadre international. Pour Garrett, avec la régénération de la Méditerranée, le Portugal serait en mesure de résister à la tutelle britannique.

Le volontariat militaire – une autre forme d’exil

On assiste à un nouvel exode des libéraux à partir de 1828, au moment où est rétabli l’absolutisme au Portugal sous l’égide de D. Miguel. A Londres, avec l’action diplomatique du Marquis de Palmela, le projet fédératif se voit abandonné et on cherche à obtenir un renforcement de l’appui de l’Angleterre. Ainsi, dans les années 1830, au cours de la période de la guerre civile entre libéraux et contre-révolutionnaires le projet méditerranéen perd de sa vigueur. Le Portugal allait se tourner dans les années 1830 vers l’Atlantique, afin de s’émanciper de la tutelle britannique, en consolidant son empire colonial africain[11]. Rien d’étonnant à ce que les libéraux aient défendu une liaison avec l’Espagne constitutionnelle[12].

Les libéraux portugais du groupe de 1823 participent avec des exilés espagnols à des tentatives de putsch militaire. Il se trouve que quelques-uns manifestent, du fait de leur engagement libéral, un intérêt particulier pour le volontariat militaire international. Par exemple, dans les mouvements d’indépendance latino-américain et grec. C’est le cas d’António Figueira de Almeida, exilé du groupe de 1823, qui fait partie d’un détachement militaire philhellène, en Grèce[13].

Militaire de carrière, né à Elvas en 1781, il était fils et petit-fils de militaires. Il participa aux campagnes de la Guerre Péninsulaire contre les troupes napoléoniennes en 1808, 1811 et 1813, ce qui lui valut une décoration en récompense de ses actions valeureuses à Fuentes de Canto, dans la province de Badajoz, en Estrémadure. Il combattit en Espagne contre les troupes du Duc d’Angoulême.

António Figueira de Almeida, “très connu à Lisbonne”, fut relégué à Elvas, en Alentejo, pour avoir participé à une conjuration libérale le 24 août 1823 contre le gouvernement anti-libéral qui s’était formé à la suite du soulèvement militaire contre-révolutionnaire de la Vilafrancada. Cette conspiration d’Elvas avorta après l’interception d’une correspondance qui y faisait allusion. La révolte comptait avec la collaboration de libéraux portugais et espagnols ainsi que d’émigrés portugais résidant dans la ville espagnole de Badajoz[14]. Figueira de Almeida rejoint alors la Grèce.

En août 1826, ayant le grade de colonel de cavalerie, il se distingue comme chef de corps à Tripoli sur ordre de Teodoro Colocotronis. Et en mars de l’année suivante, il combat sous les ordres de George Karaiskakis en Attique pour défendre Athènes. Sous les ordres de Fabvier, il débarque à Chios le 18 novembre 1827.

Déjà à Égine, le 29 août 1829, il est nommé inspecteur de cavalerie régulière chargé d’organiser le corps de cavalerie et, le 22 janvier 1833, gouverneur militaire de Nafplio, et de ses forts comme celui de Palamède. Il quittera son poste pour l’occupation, le 20 mai 1832, de l’armée française. Citoyen d’honneur de Nafplio (1832), il est promu général sous le gouvernement d’Agostino Capodistria[15]. Il devient gouverneur militaire de Missolonghi le 3 juin 1837, et c’est alors qu’il réprime la révolte du colonel N. Zervas.

A révélé ses compétences politiques en tant que gouverneur militaire de Nafplio en 1830, gouverneur militaire d’Égine (Aegina) en 1833, et de Missolonghi en 1834. Le 2 mars 1832 lui fut conféré, en Grèce, le grade de général. Il participa à la capture de l’assassin du gouverneur Ioannis Capodistria[16] et réprima, comme j’ai déjà écrit, la révolte du colonel Zervas en 1837. Mariée à une Grecque, Zoé Mavrokordatos, il eut deux fils, dont l’un, Manuel, combattit en 1866 et 1870 contre l’Autriche et la France[17]. Figueira de Almeida est mourut à Betaglia, Venise, le 21 janvier 1847. En Grèce, António Figueira de Almeida, “héros de la Guerre d’Indépendance de la Grèce”, reçut plusieurs décorations comme la Croix d’Or de l’Indépendance et la Grand-Croix de l’Ordre Hellénique et, au Portugal, par décret du 15 mars 1839, il fut fait Chevalier de l’Ordre du Christ[18].

L’ambassadeur de Grèce au Portugal, Ioannis A. Metaxas, considère António Figueira de Almeida comme “l’un des co-fondateurs de l’armée grecque moderne, que lui et ses descendants servirent héroïquement. Ils ont suivi des trajectoires exemplaires pour tous les Grecs et tissèrent des liens solides entre les peuples”[19]. C’est là un exemple marquant d’un mouvement patriotique et de solidarité internationale. Il a son portrait dans l’Exposition permanent du Musée National d’Histoire à Athènes.

Nous dirons pour conclure que les libéraux de différentes origines, une fois en exil, continuèrent à promouvoir leur cause, soit dans les journaux et les manifestes politiques, soit en prenant part à des insurrections, révoltes et révolutions. L’émigration favorisa les liens politiques avec les pays qui accueillirent les exilés et approfondit la solidarité libérale internationale au profit de la Sainte Alliance des Peuples, en opposition à la Sainte Alliance des rois[20].

“… les exilés portugais n’abandonnent pas leur engagement politique à l’étranger. Comme les émigrés libéraux… ils continuent de promouvoir la cause de la liberté… En outre, leur libéralisme est très internationaliste, de sorte qu’ils se montrent solidaires des autres causes libérales contemporaines, collaborent aux complots des autres exilés, prennent la plume ou l’épée en leur faveur et participent aux luttes progressistes des pays où ils trouvent refuge […]. Parfois leur engagement libéral s’exprime sous la forme du volontariat militaire internationale en faveur des indépendances latino-américaines ou grecque”[21].

[1] Irene Castells Olivan, “Constitucionalismo, Estratégia Insurrecional e Internacionalismo Liberal en la lucha contra el Antiguo Regimen español (1823-1831)”, Revista de História das Ideias, n.º 10, Coimbra, FLUC, 1988, pp. 486-487.

[2] Idemibidem.

[3] Carlos Daniel de Castilhos, “A Casa de Bragança e a Coroa Grega: uma cartada nas relações internacionais da Grécia revolucionária em 1822”, in XIV Encontro Regional da ANPUH, Rio de Janeiro, 2010, pp. 1-8.

[4] José Liberato Freire de Carvalho, O Campeão Portuguez em Lisboa, ou o Amigo do Povo e do Rei Constitucional, vol. 1, Lisboa, Typographia Rollandiana, 1822.

[5] David Brewer, The Flame of Freedom. The Greek War of Independence, John Murray, Londres, 2001; Denys Barau, La cause des Grecs. Une histoire du mouvement philhellène (1821-1829), Paris, Honoré Champion, 2009; William St. Clair, That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellènes in the war of independence, Cambridge, Open Book, 2008.

[6] Nicolao Kefalas est un grec navigateur et aventurier des années de la révolution. Il a atteint l’Amérique et les Indes où il aurait collecté de l’argent pour la révolution. Il a visité de nombreux pays comme l’Angleterre, la France, l’Italie, la Palestine, la Serbie et a noué des relations avec le Pape et le Patriarche de Constantinopla et d’autres dirigeants européens de l’époque.

Alexandros Mavrokordatos est origniaire d’une grande famille de Constantinople, de la classe dite Phanariote, dont plusieurs membres ont gouverné pendant la période Ottomane. Alexandros a été un important homme politique dans le cadre de la révolution avec de grandes liaisons avec les cours européens.

Le métropolite Ignatio fut métropolite de Arta, Hongrie, Valachie et à Bucarest. Un homme lettré.

[7] Grégoire Bron, “Il mediterraneo dei portoghesi all’inizio del XIX secolo: diplomazia e internazionalismo liberale, 1808-1835”, Daedalus, 5/2014, pp. 121-144.

[8] ANTT, MNE, Livro 175.

[9] ANTT, MNE, Livro 175.

[10] Libelle anonyme, [Carvalho, J.P.R.] (1830), Influence du ministère anglais dans l’usurpation de Don Miguel, Rennes, Mme V. Frout. Cf. Grégoire Bron, “Il mediterraneo dei portoghesi all’inizio del XIX secolo: diplomazia e internazionalismo liberale, 1808-1835”, Daedalus, 5/2014, p. 132.

[11] Valentim Alexandre, Os sentidos do império. Questão nacional e questão colonial na crise do Antigo Regime português, Porto, Afrontamento, 1993. Cf. Grégoire Bron, art. cit., pp. 121-144.

[12] José Liberato Freire de Carvalho, O Campeão Português, n.º 22, 16 de Julho de 1820.

[13] Henrique de Campos Ferreira Lima, “O General português António Figueira de Almeida, herói da guerra da Independência da Grécia”, Boletim do Arquivo Histórico-Militar, n.º 9, Lisboa, 1939, pp. 253-264 et O Portal da História. Páginas Pessoais.

URL: Grégoire Bron, “L’exil libéral portugais du début du XIXe siècle (1808-1934)”, Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez, nouvelle série, 48-1, 2018, pp. 315-321. URL: Lire, du même auteur, “La diplomatie du libéralisme portugais et la solidarité aristocratique internationale (1828-1832)”, Ler História (online), 68, 2015, pp. 9-31.


[14] “Documentos relativos ao general António Figueira de Almeida”, Boletim do Arquivo Histórico Militar, n.º 12, 1942. Cf. Isabel Nobre Vargues, “Insurreições e revoltas em Portugal (1801-1851). Subsídios para uma cronologia e bibliografia”, Revista de História das Ideias, n.º 7, tomo 2, Coimbra, FLUC, 1985, p. 534.

[15] Agostino Capodistria (1778-1857), fut frère de Ioannis Capodistria premier gouverneur de la Grèce.

[16] Ioannis Capodistria fut ministre des affaires extérieures de la Russie et ensuite premier gouverneur de la Grèce (1831-1832). Il succédant à son frère Ioannis (1776-1831), qui a occupé le poste de gouverneur en Grèce entre 1827 et 1831. Élu chef d’État de la Première République Hellénique (1827-1831).

[17] Eduardo de Carvalho, “Portugueses na Grécia. O general Almeida”, Ocidente. Revista Portuguesa, vol. III, 1938, pp. 85-89. Cet auteur était Consul Général du Portugal en Grèce. Un petit-fils de Figueira de Almeida a participé à la guerre gréco-turque de 1897 et a été volontaire dans la guerre des Balkans de 1912. Il y a, encore aujourd’hui, des descendants en Grèce.

[18] Ioannis A. Metaxas, “General António Figueira de Almeida, herói da Guerra da Independência da Grécia”, Diplomática, n.º 36, Fevereiro/Abril, 2021. URL:, pp. 30-33.

[19] Ioannis A. Metaxas, art. cit., Rodrigo Elias, Rodrigo Elias, “Uma cabeça, muitas coroas”, Revista de História da Biblioteca Nacional, n.º 74, novembro, 2011 e Grande Enciclopédia Helénica, edição Pyrsos, Atenas, 1928.

[20] Grégoire Bron, “La diplomatie du libéralisme portugais et la solidarité aristocratique internationale (1828-1832)”, Ler História, 68, 2015, pp. 9-31. http://doi/10.4000/lerhistoria/1677.

[21] Grégoire Bron, “L’exil libéral portugais du début du XIXe siècle (1808-1834)”, Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez, nouvelle série, 48-1, 2018, pp. 315-321. Voir aussi Pappas, Vasilios N. (Ed.), Philo-hellénisme en Macédoine (XIXe-XXe siècles), Thessalonique, Société d’Études Macédoniennes, Bibliothèque Macédonienne, n.º 113, 2021, pp. 45-54 et Idem, António Figueira de Almeida. Un portugais grec et l’histoire de sa famille, Thessalonique, Société d’Études Macédoniennes, Bibliothèque Macédonienne, n.º 114, 2021.


Kathleen Ann O’Donnell presents the links of the secular work of The Poems of Ossian by James Macpherson and its promotion by Thomas Moore’s ‘Imitation of Ossian’ and ‘Irish Melodies’ together with an adaptation of  the epic Fingal entitled ‘The Death of Calmar and Orla’ by Byron.

The presentation will take place by CESA TALKS on February 17, 2022 at 19.30 (EET) through the digital platform ZOOM:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 849 4824 4372
Passcode: 420646

These links come from networks of radical scholars who sought to unite the newly-freed Ottoman territory into a democratic federation, without Western monarchy, under the Democratic Eastern Federation to include Cyprus.  Its founder, the Kephalonian scholar and journalist Panayiotis Panas, inheritor of the dream of Rhigas Velistinlis, pro-martyr of the Greek Revolution, was the main translator of Cesarotti’s Italian version of this Celtic poetry written in English which presented a moral imperative to cement unity among different creeds to combat  the policy of ‘divide and rule’ by the British Empire.

More information:

Kathleen Ann O’Donnell is an independent scholar affiliated to the British School at Athens. Kathleen has spent a quarter of a century researching Ossian since she presented a paper at the James Macpherson Bicentenary Conference at Oxford in 1996.  Recent publications include: ‘The Influence of ‘Thomas Moore in the Nineteenth-Century Greek-Speaking World’ in The Reputations of Thomas Moore, edited by Sarah McCleave and Triona O’Hanlon (Routledge, 2020), and  ‘Translations of Ossian, Thomas Moore and the Gothic by 19th Century European Radical Intellectuals: The Democratic Eastern Federation’ in Lublin Studies in Modern Languages and Literature (Lublin 2019).

Kathleen Ann O’Donnell (on and ResearchGate):



It was the great moment of the emblematic British Philhellene, founder of the Greek Navy, captain of Karteria and national benefactor of Greece, Frank Abney-Hastings.

This naval battle was also one of the greatest moments of Philhellenism. The Greek fleet with Admiral Frank Abney-Hastings, captains of the other ships the Danish-German Fabricius, the British Georges Thomas and the French general Dentzel, and dozens of other philhellenes and Greek sailors, destroyed the entire Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Corinth, opening the road to the liberation of mainland Greece. The African-American Williams also took part in this naval battle, leading a group of 15 sailors to take back control of the Greek ship Savior that had been left unmanned.

SHP and the Philhellenism Museum honor the Philhellenes volunteers who participated in the naval battle of Agali (Itea), displaying in the Museum of Philhellenism the personal pistols of Frank Abney-Hastings, which were used in this naval battle.

You may find the biography of Frank Abney-Hastings here:







Letter of 1824 (SHP collection, Philhellenism Museum)

Article by George Thomareis


The letter constitutes a precious part of Greek history. It is a letter written on 28 January 1824 in New York by some J.J.L. addressed to some Gracie in Baltimore.

In the draft letter a lot of information is included, mainly on the emblems (Constantne’s Cross, “ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ” etc.) the symbolisms and the flags of the Revolution. The information concerning the flag are coming from American compatriots who had seen it in Psara!

The most standing of all, however, is the page with the sketches of the flags and mottos, drawn with Chinese ink in 1824. Maybe world’s first of our flag on paper!

What did actually the contents of the letter mean?

The Philhellenic movement in America was great at that time. In various cities (New York, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati etc.) Philhellenic Committees were founded which gathered funds and clothing to be sent to Greece from various events such dances, concerts etc. for the relief of the hunger-striken population.

The result of this great mobilisation was the dispatch in 1827 of eight ships with food and clothing to Greece (On philhellenism in America see Stephen A. Larrabee, The American experience of Greece 1775-1865, New York 1957).

The New York Committee organised a dance on 8 January and it seems that a member of the Baltimore Committee was asking some information for the decoration of the ballroom for the dance they were preparing.

The dance of the Baltimore Committee had in fact taken place in February 1824 with great success. A nice description of the evening and the decoration of the ballrooms with Greek flags-evidently copying the ball of N. York- was published in the newspaper Ellinika Chronica [Hellenic Chronicles] published in 1824 in Missolonghi (The description was republished by M. Anninos in The Philhellenes of 1821, p. 63-65 and C. Lazos in America and her role in the 1821 Revolution, vol. I, Papazisis 1983, pp. 462-463).


The letter reads:

“In answer to your inquiries respecting the Greek Cross and Flag, I send you the following:

The Cross adopted by the Committee of decorations, as the most appropriate to be displayed at our Greek Ball on the 8th of January was the Cross of Constantine.

It is asserted by Historians that it was seen by that Emperor in the Heavens with the inscription ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ. By this conquer it occasioned his conversion to Christianity.

In a vision, which it is also said he had the same night, he was directed to adopt the Cross or Labarum as his standard and to inscribe the same on the shields of his soldiers. A further reason for exhibiting this cross was that Prince Ipsilanti fought under it as his banner in all his recent battles with the Turks. It is in the following form of the name of Christ in Greek representing the 2 first letters.

The proportions in this monogram, as taken from an ancient coin, should be:

the perpendicular piece to be of the same length with the transverse piece measuring from the lower part of the curve to the ground – as some authors say that when seen by Constantine, it resembled a flame, our object was to make it as near that color as possible, and after making numerous experiments, we covered it with a bright foil giving nearly a flame colour when a strong light was thrown upon it. Our inscriptions were in letters of gold in a white ground.

There is as yet no National Flag in Greece – each Island or State having its own.

There are three known to us:

– Cross Blue on a White Field.

– Stripes Blue & White alternately.

– Anchor Blue in a white field.

The first of these was only exhibited as harmonizing best with our own and as it is the only one yet seen by some of our countrymen at Ipsara.

I have no doubt it would have given the Committee pleasure to send on the Greek Flag made for us to Baltimore, but the size of the Theater required a flag of 80 Feet length and as economy was studied by us as much as possible, we sewed pieces of bunting together, which have since been taken apart and sold.

We are therefore denied the pleasure of giving this small proof of our wish to cooperate with our friends at that city”.


Note on the Philhellenism of the time

The philhellenic movement in America, around 1823-24, had erupted. In the churches there were sermons in favor of the Greek Revolution, in the theaters special performances were staged to support financially the Struggle, while from 1824 American companies sent to revolutionary Greece swords, rifles, pistols, small cannons and medical supplies!

Many Americans fought on the Greek side, such as George Wilson of Rhode Island, James Williams of Baltimore, Captain John M. Alen, a close friend of General Lafayette, William T. Washington from Washington, and others.

In various cities (New York, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, etc.) philhellenic committees were established which collected money and goods to be sent to Greece, through various events, such as dances, concerts, etc. to alleviate the grief of the starving population. The result of this great mobilization was the sending of eight ships in 1827 with food and clothing to Greece (Stephen A. Larrabee “Greece 1775-1865, How the Americans Saw It”).




By George Thomareis

When Ibrahim had landed in the Peloponnese in 1825 and the revolution was in danger, the Greek government sought in the person of French Colonel Charles Favier an experienced officer who could organize a regular army worthy of the, under Ibrahim, Egyptian one. On July 30, 1825, Fabvier was appointed organizer and commander of the regular Greek army.

Fabvier was recognized as one of the most honest and selfless Philhellenes. He gave many examples of a sense of justice, military conscientiousness, generosity and selflessness.

On November 4, 1826, Fabvier wrote to the Swiss banker Jean-Gabriel Eynard as a guarantor of the young Vasilios Anagnostis Papamanolis from Hydra, asking the well-known Philhellene Eynard, to help the young man in his studies in Europe, while referring in parallel with warm words on the patriotism of Hydriotes.

The letter was sent from Hydra to Geneva on November 4, 1826 and has been disinfected (stamp… SANITA), most likely in Semlin.



From Fabvier to Eynard


Charles Nicolas Fabvier (1783-1855) was a French Philhellene general and commander of the Greek regular army during the Greek Revolution. He is considered the most capable and beloved among all the Philhellene officers who fought on the side of the Greek revolutionaries from 1823 to 1828. He wore a fustanela and a sariki on his head, similar to those worn by Generals Nikitaras and Makrygiannis. He had adapted so much to the life of the fighters that no one could realize that he was not Greek.

John-Gabriel Eynard (1775-1863) was a Swiss banker, Philhellene, honored with the title of Benefactor of the Greek Nation. On November 30, 1826, Fabvier, with 530 men broke the siege of the Acropolis carrying ammunition and remained besieged there until May 24, 1827, when he capitulated. On the 100th anniversary of this battle and the occupation of the Acropolis of Athens by the Greek army, the Hellenic Republic honored General Fabvier by issuing a series of three stamps engraved with the words: “TO FAVIERO”.


Rare envelope of the 1st day of circulation (1 Aug. 1927) of the Fabvier series

Medal of 1926 in honor of Fabvier



by Alexis Papadopoulos

The two letters sent from Ioannis Capodistrias to his Swiss philhellene friend Jean-Gabriel Eynard presented here are of considerable interest not only due to the names themselves of the two correspondents but also due to their contents. Both letters are included in Correspondance du comte J. Capodistrias, président de la Grèce comprenant les lettres diplomatiques, administratives et particulières, écrites par lui depuis le 20 Avril 1827 jusqu’au 9 Octobre 1831, recueillies et mises en ordre par les soins de ses frères et publiées par E. A. Bétant, l’un de ses secrétaires, Abraham Cherbuliez et Cie, Libraires, Genève 1839, [Correspondance of count J. Κapodistrias, president of Greece, including diplomatic, administrative and private letters, written in the period from 20 April 1827 to 9 October 1831, collected and sorted out by his brothers, and published by E. A. Bétant, one of his secretaries, Abraham Cherbuliez & Cie, Geneva 1839].

In 1839, the brothers of John Capodistrias, after taking good care of the copies of the letters of the Governor’s archive, with the help of Α. Betant, one of Ioannis’ secretary, they published in Geneva a four-volume work which contained his correspondence from the day he accepted the responsibility of the government in 1827 right up to his assassination in 1831. This work was then translated in Greek by M. G. Schinas and published in Athens in 1841. The two letters are written in French by Capodistrias’ secretary, save for the short closing paragraphs and the signatures which are in the Governor’s handwriting. They are written in a most crucial period for the fate of the newly formed Greek state and this fact is reflected on their contents. The Greek translation shown here is the original Schinas’ text, except the parts translated into Greek by Alexandre Galinos as these parts were previously unpublished in both the 1839 and 1841 works. 1828 was a difficult and decisive year for the successful outcome of the Greek uprising. Capodistrias had already arrived in Greece in January 1828 as Governor and tried to organize a state on scorched earth. Apart from the severe financial difficulties, there was always the danger of the uprising being suppressed by Ibrahim’s presence in the Peloponnese. The French expeditionary mission in the Peloponnese in late August forced Ibrahim’s troops to retreat and leave Greece. Shortly after, at the Poros Conference (September-December) where the Ambassadors of the Great Powers met, Capodistrias tried to secure larger boundaries for the newly formed Greek state.


fig. 1: The first letter


First letter (fig. 1)

To Chevalier Eynard, in Geneva Aegina, 15/27 August 1828

A few days ago I wrote to you my dear friend, and today as opportunity offers I am writing again to let you know that I drew a check on Messieurs Odier & Co for the amount of 51,000 francs for which you have credited me. As soon as Mr. Marinoglou acknowledges that he received the aforementioned sum, I shall credit the honorable lender (Schinas’ note: the King of Bavaria) and Mr Carnot. The bank should release the moneys at the agreed time, which is at the end of the year. The same will apply with yours as well. The contributions offered by the generous Kings of France and Russia still do not allow us to be financially content, so we cannot turn down offers of any additional help. I hope that it will not be long that we will be better off financially.

For the moment, I give to Mr. Odier the sum of 20,000 francs as stated in your letter of 21 July, a sum donated by the benefactors for the education of poor children. You can assure them that their wishes will be fulfilled with the greatest precision. It is impossible for me to tell you all about the things that have been happening at this most important period for the regeneration of Greece. I only have time just to tell you that we are working hard every day. The things that we do, if we want them to be of substance and to have a permanent effect, should not be improvised. At the time that I am writing to you, I am receiving three very important pieces of news. You know all about the French expeditionary mission in Greece. You should be pleased to know that on the 9th of August, Mehmet-Ali signed a treaty with admiral Codrington in which he promises to free all the Greek prisoners of war in Alexandria and to order his son to leave the Messinia fortresses.

Finally, the plenipotentiary ambassadors of the allied royal courts are on their way to the Aegean archipelago to prepare their efforts for the peace settlement entrusted to them. I will be expecting them in Poros in eight or ten days time. For this reason, please put on hold until further notice any action in regard with the mercenaries’ contracts (Schinas’ note: capitulations), for which I wrote to you on 12/24 June via Paris. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – start] I am telling you to refrain from any such action because I would like first to be better informed and to gather all the necessary information before taking my final decision. I hope that in a few days things will clear-up and I will tell you: carry on with the negotiations and get them finalized. Two days ago I wrote directly to our friend in Paris so that he warns you. I hereby enclose two numbers of the Government Gazette and a printed circular. Young men bearing your letters of recommendation arrive daily. You should stop here. As I had already the honor to inform you, whoever does not speak Greek is absolutely not eligible to become a public servant. In a few cases and just for those that have some abilities, they can only be enlisted in the army. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – end] [by Capodistrias’ handwriting] I shake your hand and I beg you to remind me to your ladies, and to give my best to Madame Eynard.

I am all Yours, I. Capodistrias [signature]


fig. 2: The second letter


Second letter (fig. 2)

To Chevalier Eynard, in Geneva Poros, 7/19 September 1828

My dear Eynard,

I have just returned from the bay of Messinia, where I had gone to regulate the future relations between the chief general Marquis Maison and the locals of the place that he will set free from the Turks. Ibrahim Pacha embarks and sets sail for Alexandria. The three plenipotentiary ambassadors of the allied powers are here. Therefore, do not get at me if I keep this letter short. I received your letters of 15 and 28 July. I directly reply to count Hoogendrop thanking him for the 15,000 francs that I received through you. Your observations on the possible ways to reduce Greek debt and what to do next are excellent indeed, but it is not the proper time to implement them. Perhaps, in a few days I would be able to write to you more on this matter. Please be assured that I wish to act in the way you suggest, but for now I cannot do anything more.

In my last letter I wrote to you to put on hold the big issue of recruiting German and Swiss mercenaries, but also to keep the negotiations open, so as to when we have the desired outcome I will immediately notify you to finalize the issue. I received the note regarding the various tools that are needed for the agriculture and education, I very much thank you for this; Mr. Bazin has already dealt with them. The regular soldiers, the ones already drafted and those coming in will now enjoy their military music, the farmers will have their farming tools, and not least the orphans will have blackboards for their education. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – start] I read count de Bourg’s letter and have put it in the archives. It is impossible for me to reply to the entire world. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – end] [by Capodistrias’ handwriting illegible closing paragraph mentioning Mme Eynard]

I. Capodistrias (signature)


Postal history

At the time these two letters were written there was no postal services in the new Greek state, let alone postal treaties signed with other states. The postal communication relied on the good services offered by merchants, sailors, travelers etc.

The first letter, written in Aegina on 15/27 August 1828, was privately carried probably aboard a British merchant vessel, which made a stop at Malta where disinfection took place (red wax seal reading QUARANTINE OFFICE MALTA with the coat of arms of King George IV of Great Britain). When the ship called in Genoa, the letter was handed over to Nicolaos Petrokokkinos forwarding agency, and this is where the letter was posted (red straight-line GENOVA) on 6 October, according to the handwritten date on the reverse of the folded letter. Eynard was not a Geneva resident, his mansion was in the nearby town of Rolle in Lake Geneva, where the letter was readdressed. The handwritten charges of 12 and 16/ 20 most probably mean that the letter was charged 4 centesimi for the Italian part of the trip, 12 decimes by the French postal service for the French transit (a total of 16 currency units), 2 kreuzers were charged by the Fischer Post (which provided all mail service for the Canton of Geneva in 1828) and 2 kreuzers by the Canton of Vaud (where Rolle belonged), making a grand total of 20 currency units.

The second letter written in Poros on 7/19 September 1828 was privately carried all the way to Geneva, where it was posted and then readdressed to Rolle. The ship on which this letter traveled, called at some point in Ancona where it was treated for disinfection and received the rectangular boxed Lazzaretto Ancona / Netto Dentro E Fuori cachet. The handwritten postal charges of 2/4 means that 4 kreuzers were paid in total, half of it credited to the Fischer post, the other half to the Canton of Vaud.

My sincere thanks to Harlan Stone of the American Helvetia Philatelic Society for his help in “deciphering” the postal rates, and to my good friend Alexandre Galinos for translating from French to Greek the previously unpublished parts of the two letters.



The Memorial to the English Sailors


John Kittmer, former British Ambassador to Greece
24 March 2021

The small boat, with its group of twenty or so British tourists and schoolkids, was leaning into the wind across choppy waters. Gerald, our teacher and guide, was telling us two stories at once and they were becoming occasionally confused. As we left the jetty of the pretty town, the geography opened up in all directions. Behind the town, itself set out on the edge of the bay, a conical mountain was rising. The island to which we were heading now seemed much larger; its sides precipitous and covered in forest. ‘The surrender of the Spartan garrison on Sphacteria was the first time that Spartans had ever capitulated,’ Gerald shouted, above the noise of the engine. ‘It was an exciting moment for the Athenians: a moment that carried them into uncharted waters – waters that were unfortunately stalked by Hubris and Nemesis…’

The waters through which we were being cοnveyed seemed themselves to be increasingly stalked, by danger. We were apparently now heading out into the open sea through the southern channel between Sphacteria island and the mainland, and the waves were getting bigger. ‘We will soon see the monument to the French sailors who died at Navarino,’ said Gerald, optimistically. The boat bounced on the turbulent waves, as we approached the stairs cut into the cliff of the islet of Tsichli-Baba. ‘It’s too choppy to land today – according to the captain, but we’ll sail round the islet and then return to find the English monument.’


The Battle of Navarino


It was the middle of April in 1984. I was sixteen. We were in the first week of a three-week tour of Greece and were travelling around the Peloponnese. It was Orthodox Lent and we were due to spend Holy Week on Aegina and Easter week on Sifnos. I had never been to Greece before, but had been learning the ancient language for three years. Earlier in the day, we had excitedly toured the Mycenean remains of Nestor’s Palace at Ano Engliano. Now we were learning about events in the Peloponnesian War in 425BC (the capture of Sphacteria by the Athenians) and the Battle of Navarino on 20 October 1827AD. As we re-entered the bay, Gerald told us about the disposition of the Ottoman fleet (arranged in a horseshoe) and the tactics and skill of the allied sailors, as Codrington, provoked by Ibrahim’s fleet, launched a devastating and decisive counterattack. From the English memorial on Chelonaki islet, we could see, at the northern end of the bay, the flat lands of the lagoon and the thirteenth-century Frankish castle at Old Navarino. In this small corner of Greece, every age of European history seemed to have left its mark. Homeric mythology, ancient and mediaeval history, legendary figures from the age of European empire and Greek revolution, the ghosts and footfalls of the past – all crowded into this compact environment, this landscape of astonishing natural beauty.


Yialova Lagoon, Navarino


First impressions matter. My first impressions of Greece changed the course of my life. I am not alone in that. Rather more importantly for the course of Greek history, Byron too fell in love on his first trip to Greece in 1809. He fell in love multiply. Famously, of course, with Teresa Makri, the ‘Maid of Athens’, but even more lastingly with Greece itself, its landscapes, its mythical past, its people and their customs – and above all, he fell in love with the idea of Greece: a Greece of radical liberty, freed from Ottoman shackles. He was entranced by Greece (I have placed below a favourite stanza from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage), but for many years, he does not seem to have thought that the Greeks would actually rise up and claim their freedom. It was his friend, the poet Percy Shelley, who taught him a more dynamic form of pro-Greek political activism. Shelley’s radicalism and idealism galvanised Byron and inspired him to his last great venture, in 1823: the adventure that ended with Byron’s death at Mesolongi on 19 April 1824 and the release of a great wave of philhellenic sentiment across Europe and the United States.


Byron in Greece, by Vryzakis


Byron was a liberal and his contribution to the Greek struggle was motivated by liberal ideals. But at heart Philhellenism is not a political ideology, though it has a political dimension. The history of British engagement with Greece in the past two centuries shows that passionate British Philhellenes have included liberals, conservatives, socialists and the apolitical. It would also be wrong to think that Philhellenism, though it has important historical associations and deep historical roots, belongs exclusively to the past. I think that the youthful Byron shows us what Philhellenism is. It is quite simply a transformative love affair. The millions of my compatriots who go to Greece every year are as susceptible to falling in love with Greece as Byron was in 1809. Whether or not that first spark of love develops into something more lasting and significant depends on many factors, not least personal investment of time, willingness to learn the language, to acquire a knowledge of and a share in the culture. For those of us who come to Greece and truly fall in love with her, this love affair shapes our lives: it guides our present and moulds the future and soon becomes a treasured, indispensable part of our personal past.

So on this day, which marks the 200th anniversary of the launch of the struggle for Greek freedom, I am thinking not only of the heroes of the struggle – Makrygiannis, Kolokotronis, Karaiskakis, Bouboulina, Miaoulis, Mavrocordatos, Capodistrias, Byron, Hastings, Church – and of the ordinary Greeks who fought and endured, but also of today’s Greeks: my many Greek friends and acquaintances, the Greeks I meet in London, those greater numbers of Greeks I have yet to meet in their homeland: Athens, Thessaloniki, and elsewhere. I say to all of you: This day is your day; it goes without saying that after 200 years of sustaining liberty, what your ancestors achieved is now your achievement. However heavy the burden of the past sometimes seems to be, you are worthy of it and you carry it well. Those of us who love Greece share in your joy and rejoice in your glorious freedom. I send you my warmest congratulations and my love.

Long live Greece! Long live Greek freedom!
Feast of the Annunciation, 2021


Lord Byron, Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, Canto II.88

Where’er we tread ‘tis haunted, holy ground;
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,
But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the Muse’s tales seem truly old,
Till the sense aches with gazing to behold
The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon:
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold
Defies the power which crush’d thy temples gone:
Age shakes Athena’s tower, but spares gray Marathon.


Nestor’s Palace, Summer 2016