The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With An Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview

THE REVOLUTION IN GREECE.

A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE 19TH OF JANUARY, 1824.

[THE rise and progress of the revolution in Greece attracted great attention in the United States. Many obvious causes contributed to this effect, and their influence was seconded by the direct appeal made to the people of America, by the first political body organized in Greece after the breaking out of the revolution, viz. "The Messenian Senate of Calamata". A formal address was made by that body to the people of the United States, and forwarded by their committee (of which the celebrated Koray was chairman), to a friend and correspondent in this country. This address was translated and widely circulated; but it was not to be expected that any great degree of confidence should be at once generally felt in a movement undertaken against such formidable odds.

The progress of events, however, in 1822 and 1823, was such as to create an impression that the revolution in Greece had a substantial foundation in the state of affairs, in the awakened spirit of that country, and in the condition of public opinion throughout Christendom. The interest felt in the struggle rapidly increased in the United States. Local committees were formed, animated appeals were made, and funds collected, with a view to the relief of the victims of the war.

On the assembling of Congress, in December, 1823, President Monroe made the revolution in Greece the subject of a paragraph in his annual message, and on the 8th of December Mr. Webster moved the following resolution in the House of Representatives:--

" Resolved, That provision ought to be made, by law, for defraying the expense incident to the appointment of an Agent or Commissioner to Greece, whenever the President shall deem it expedient to make such appointment."

These, it is believed, are the first official expressions favorable to the independence of Greece uttered by any of the governments of Christendom, and no doubt contributed powerfully towards the creation of that feeling throughout the civilized world which eventually led to the battle of Nava rino, and the liberation of a portion of Greece from the Turkish yoke.

The House of Representatives having, on the 19th of January, resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and this resolution being taken into consideration, Mr. Webster spoke to the following effect.]

I AM afraid, Mr. Chairman, that, so far as my part in this discussion is concerned, those expectations which the public excitement existing on the subject, and certain associations easily suggested by it, have conspired to raise, may be disappointed. An occasion which calls the attention to a spot so distinguished, so connected with interesting recollections, as Greece, may naturally create something of warmth and enthusiasm. In a grave, political discussion, however, it is necessary that those feelings should be chastised. I shall endeavor properly to repress them, although it is impossible that they should be altogether extinguished. We must, indeed, fly beyond the civilized world; we must pass the dominion of law and the boundaries of knowledge; we must, more especially, withdraw ourselves from this place, and the scenes and objects which here surround us,-- if we would separate ourselves entirely from the influence of all those memorials of herself which ancient Greece has transmitted for the admiration and the benefit of mankind. This free form of government, this popular assembly, the common council held for the common good,--where have we contemplated its earliest models? This practice of free debate and public discussion, the contest

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