On This Day December 8, 1823: Congressman Daniel Webster’s Impassioned 1824 Speech in Defense of U.S. Support of Greece’s Independence


On December 8th, 1823, Congressman Daniel Webster from Massachusetts made a motion in Congress for the appropriation of money, to send an American envoy to Greece and for the support of the Greek struggle for independence.

On January 19th, 1824, Webster gave a powerful and resonating speech in defense of his proposal. “I have in mind the modern not the ancient, the alive and not the dead Greece… today’s Greece, fighting against unprecedented difficulties… a Greece fighting for its existence and for the common privilege of human existence”, said Webster.

Congressman Henry Clay, from Kentucky, supported Webster’s motion and in a moving oratorical speech on January 20th, 1824, asked Congress to officially recognize the Greek War of Independence and to send an envoy to Greece to examine and report on the situation. He stressed the fact that the entire American nation was showing sympathy and support for Greece and urged Congress to suppress any fears and apprehensions and to help a Christian nation. In addition, General Sam Houston, a member of Congress, supported Daniel Webster’s motion.

Unfortunately, due to strong opposition from members of Congress that adhered to the principles of the “Monroe Doctrine”, the Webster motion was defeated.

However, the speeches of the great philhellenes, Webster and Clay, were widely publicized in America, Europe and South America and sparked the interest of many individuals, who decided to help the Greek revolution with various means. The influence and the positive contributions of the American philhellenes to the Greek War of Independence had just begun.



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