The first American volunteer to join the Greek War of Independence in 1822 was George Jarvis, the son of a merchant from New York. Jarvis joined the Greek guerilla fighters (klefts) and became lieutenant-general in the Greek forces, known as “Kapetan Zervis” since he had “become a complete Greek in dress, manners, and language.” Along with Samuel Gridley Howe and Jonathan Peckham Miller he supervised the distribution of humanitarian help to the Greek population. He died of natural causes in Argos on August 11th, 1828.
The most well-known of American Philhellenes was Samuel Gridley Howe from Boston. Howe joined the Greek forces in 1824. From 1826 he served as Chief surgeon on the Greek navy, on the flagship Karteria. Howe’s lively letters from Greece were published in the American newspapers and resulted in raising funds for humanitarian aid. Howe was a true visionary. Not only was he instrumental in distributing supplies and provisions to the Greek population, but he also provided employment to Greek refugees first in building the port on the island of Aegina and then by establishing a model colony for Greek refugees near the Isthmus of Corinth near the town of Examilia.
His colony provided for two hundred families of refugees and it was named Washingtonia. After his return to Boston he became director of the Perkins School for the Blind but he never forgot Greece. When the Cretan revolt of 1866 broke out, he returned to Greece with his wife and two daughters to offer help to the Cretan refugees.