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Philhellenism and the development of female-led reform in the United States




01 June 2021


The American people followed the progress of the Greek Revolution with enthusiasm when it first broke out in 1821. Within a few years, Greek relief society leaders focused their efforts on supporting the Greeks through humanitarian outreach, where aid would be raised for civilians instead of the Greek army. This humanitarian effort made participation in the Greek cause an especially appropriate outlet for women. At a time when it was unacceptable for women to mingle in the public and political world, humanitarian fundraising and aid intersected with the so-called domestic sphere, the realm within which women were expected to remain in early American life. By the end of the 1820s, philhellenism had become a practical school for political action, playing a part in the rise of the abolitionist movement and generating support for female education and women’s rights.

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