News of the Greek insurrection reached the United States in late May 1821. In addition to reports from correspondents in major European cities, American newspapers also published first-hand accounts of the events of the war written by volunteers who fought in Greece like George Jarvis, whose journals are on display here, Samuel Gridley Howe and Jonathan Peckham Miller.
Because of the Monroe Doctrine of American neutrality in international affairs, America’s humanitarian efforts in support of the Greeks were largely run from the bottom up, by private citizens. Support for the Greek cause spread so fast that it became known as “Greek fever.” Pro-Greek relief committees were organized in America’s major cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and Cincinnati, to “Save the Greeks!” Through collections, balls, concerts, and calls for help they solicited donations for the relief of the Greeks.
Αt first, these were intended for the purchase of military supplies and were given to the Greek government without any restrictions as to their use. As the Greek civil war started, interest dwindled but thanks to the efforts of the Greek Committees new campaigns were started in 1826 and 1827. Humanitarian help was placed in the hands of American agents sent to Greece who made sure that the aid would be given only for the relief of the women, children, and old men, non-combatants of Greece. This policy met with sharp opposition on the part of the Greek government and the Greek military attempted to seize the supplies more than once.
In 1827-28 six ships from New York or Boston brought to Greece the long-awaited humanitarian aid of a total of $ 140,000. The Tontine, Chancellor, Six Brothers, Levant, Statesman, Jane, Herald and Suffolk sailed in the Mediterranean under the protection of the Mediterranean Squadron, the American navy that had been stationed in the Mediterranean since the Barbary Wars.