1821 and Its American Connection

BOCA RATON – Dr. Stamatios Kartalopoulos Emeritus Chair and Professor of Telecommunications, delivered a thoughtful and unique speech at St. Mark’s parish in Boca Raton Florida titled 1821 and its American Connection.

Professor Kartalopoulos said among other things that “in 1821, the Greeks were very few. They had no military training, and no organization. They had no military equipment, and no battleships. They were against a mega-empire that had hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers, and a navy equipped with modern guns. At the time, the Ottoman navy was the most powerful in the Mediterranean. But the Greeks had something no one else had: deep faith in God, and unshakeable patriotism that was based on a strong foundation of democratic ideas and values. They had the Hellenic Spirit. For thousands of years, it was handed down from generation to generation. Like a beacon, its light shined to the civilized world. Four centuries of oppression could not dim this light.”

A prominent researcher, inventor, author of more than 200 scientific papers and 10 textbooks translated into other languages, an international lecturer and award recipient, and a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Dr. Kartalopoulos continued:

“In its historical context, the Greek War for Independence in 1821 took place in a period known as the Age of Revolution (roughly 1763-1848). In this period, another war for Independence had taken place in colonial America, the American Revolution (1765-1783).

“You might be surprised to learn the connection between the two. On July 4, 1776, the U.S. Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress, at the Pennsylvania State House, in Philadelphia. Then, our American forefathers searched for the best democratic ideas in the world to define the Constitution of the United States of America. And, they found many ideas in the ancient constitutions of the Hellenistic Lycian League (a confederation of 23 ancient Greek cities in Lycia, Asia Minor), and in the Achaean League in the Peloponnese, and in the Athenian democracy. [see Federalist Papers #6 and #23]

“In September 1787, Alexander Hamilton wrote: ‘were I to give a model (to the Constitution) of an excellent … Republic, it would be that of Lycia.’ [see Federalist Paper #9.] Similarly, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote: ‘The Achaean League was another Greek society of Greek republics, which supplies us (the Americans) with valuable instruction.’ [see

Federalist Paper #18.]

“The American Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia. These principles of representation as well as the Federation concept became part of

the model of American democracy. This model of American democracy impressed the whole of Europe, when the French political philosopher and statesman Alexis de Tocqueville described it in his 1835 book titled Democracy in America.

“The Greek revolution on March 25, 1821, with the support of the Greeks in the

Diaspora and the Phanariots, spread like wildfire. Once again, a few Greeks, men

and women, proved they could stand up against the many. And like their ancestors

at Marathon, Thermopylae, and elsewhere, they fought valiantly. Among them,

Kolokotronis, Bouboulina, Kanaris, Manto Mavrogenous, to mention a few. We’ve

all heard these names.”

Dr. Kartalopoulos also noted in his speech:

“The story of their bravery inspired hundreds of intellectuals and peasants in Europe, rich and poor, all friends of the Hellenic ideas. These Philhellenes responded to the Greek cause in many different ways. Among them Lord Byron, Count Santarosa, François Pouqueville, and many others.

“The U.S. government, for political and other reasons, remained neutral in the

affairs of Europe and did not get involved in the war of the Greeks [note The Monroe Doctrine 1823]. However, the Hellenic Spirit was already interwoven in the fabric of American society. And while the war in Greece was being fought, on December 3, 1822, U.S. President James Monroe in his State of the Union address to the Congress said, ‘the mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted

sentiments … That such a country should have been overwhelmed and

so long hidden from the world under a gloomy despotism…”

“Several years before the Greek Revolution, a young Greek intellectual and

physician, Adamantios Koraes, had met Thomas Jefferson in Paris. Thereafter, they often exchanged philosophical and political ideas. On October 21, 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend Koraes: ‘no people sympathize more feelingly than ours (the Americans) with the suffering of your countrymen (the Greeks), none offer more sincere and ardent prayers to heaven for their success.’ Similarly, on December 2, 1823, in his State of the Union President James Monroe said: ‘A strong hope is 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.”

U.S. Massachusetts Representative, Daniel Webster, on January 19, 1824,

delivered a speech in the House of Representatives, and said of the Greeks:

‘this gallant people, the best sailors in the Mediterranean, a people of

knowledge, refinement, spirit, and civilized, have been for centuries

under pillaging, savage, relentless soldiery and barbarism,’ adding, ‘the Turk has now been encamped in Europe for four centuries … They came in by the sword, and they govern by the sword.’

“Many American citizens responded to the Greek cause and in many different

ways. Among them George Jarvis, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, Jonathan Miller, William

Bryant, and many others. Many cities organized Greek Relief Funds, and shipped clothing, food items, and medical supplies to Greece. Similarly, American colleges, churches, and U.S. Army officers contributed funds. Theaters staged productions and dedicated the proceeds to the Greek cause. And, in admiration of their bravery, cities in the U.S. were named after heroes of the Greek War for Independence, such as Ypsilanti, Michigan (in 1826), after Alexandros Ypsilantis.

“The American Philia to Greece, or Philhellenism, can be seen in the Hellenic-

inspired architecture that adorns Washington, D.C., and many other cities in the U.S. I share this so that we can all appreciate the close historical relationship of Greeks

and Americans, which is based on common values, Freedom and Democracy. We, Greek-Americans, should be truly proud of it.

“In 1827, with the intervention of Britain, France, and Russia, particularly after the

gross defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Navarino, Greece was recognized a

sovereign country. The Greeks were officially free. The success of the Greek War for Independence and the American democracy inspired others. In 1848, peoples in 50 European countries under monarchical rule demanded their freedom and democratic processes. This is known as ‘the Springtime of the Nations.’”

Dr. Kartalopoulos is an Archon Exarchos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a member of the Senators, an advisory body to his Eminence Elpidophoros, and a member of the Leadership 100 Endowment Fund. He and his spouse has visited the Patriarchate in Constantinople more than 20 times, and has defended the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe – Human Rights and Freedom of Religion) in Warsaw, Poland. He and his spouse have also been major supporters of the Greek Orthodox schools in Constantinople. He has been President of the St. Andrew Parish Council in Randolph, NJ, member of the Holy Trinity Parish Council in Westfield, NJ, a reader (anagnostis), and assistant psaltis.

For 20 years, Stamatios and his spouse, Anita, co-chaired the Sights and Sounds Festival, a statewide competitive festival of the arts within the Metropolis of NJ. Stamatios is married to attorney Anita Kartalopoulos, Vice President  of the National Philoptochos Society, and they are the parents of Vasilios (Bill) Kartalopoulos, MA (Dartmouth ‘97), and Stephanie Kartalopoulos, PhD (Harvard ’01).


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