On December 8, 1823, Congressman Daniel Webster of Massachusetts made a motion in Congress to send an American envoy to Greece to support its struggle for independence.
Just one month later on January 19, 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.”
Congressman Henry Clay of Kentucky supported Webster’s motion and in a moving speech on January 20, 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.
Clay stressed the fact that the entire American nation was showing support for Greece and urged Congress to suppress fears and help a Christian nation. In addition, General Sam Houston, a member of Congress, supported Webster’s motion.
Nonetheless, due to strong opposition from Congress members based on the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, Webster’s motion failed to pass.
However, the speeches of the great philhellenes — Webster and Clay — were widely publicized in the U.S., Europe and South America and prompted others worldwide to help the Greek revolution through various means. The influence and the positive contributions of American philhellenes to Greece’s war of independence had just begun.
DANIEL WEBSTER’S COMPLETE SPEECH IN THE U.S. CONGRESS
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