Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Balkan Wars

Poster Supporting
Greek Balkan War Effort
The Balkan Wars began October 8, 1912, and lasted nine months.  The First Balkan War (Oct. 8, 1912 - May 30, 1913) involved an alliance of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro, which defeated the Ottoman Empire and stripped it of the bulk of its territory in Europe.  In the second Balkan War (June 16 - Aug. 10, 1913), Bulgaria fought alone against its former alliance partners, the Ottoman Empire, and Romania.  Bulgaria was allowed to keep its gains from the First Balkan War but had to cede certain territory to Romania.

When Greece declared war on the Ottoman Empire in early October 1912, all male subjects of the Kingdom of Greece of military age were called to the colors.  This included Greek subjects who had immigrated to the U.S. (and elsewhere), but who had not yet become naturalized citizens.  Those who had served in the Greek military from 1896 to 1911 and were Greek reservists were obliged to serve.  But tens of thousands of others living and working in the U.S. -- either as Greek subjects or as naturalized U.S. citizens -- answered the call of the motherland and returned to Greece to fight as volunteers in the Greek army.  As many as one-third of all the men in the Greek Army during the Balkan Wars (estimated at 57,000 by the Greek Ministry of Defense) were Americanized Greeks.

Spiros Toumasatos Livadas (1913)
Among them were Spiros Toumasatos Livadas (____-1960), born in Angona, the Cephalonian village where my father’s family has its roots.  He was a blood relative:  his mother was my great grandfather’s sister, making him a first cousin to my grandmother Eleni.

Spiro was tall and sturdy.  He was essentially a father to my father, whose own father died when Dad was twelve.  I can’t say for my siblings Gerry and Barbara, but to me “Uncle Spiro” was like a kindly grandfather.

I don't know when Spiro originally came to the U.S.  But by 1912, he was established in Gloversville, N.Y., at the "Candyland," his cousin's thriving ice cream parlor business.

Spiro was eligible to serve because he was twenty-eight years old and was not yet a U.S. citizen (he was not naturalized until 1925).  So like tens of thousands of other Greek subjects then living and working in the U.S., he dropped everything and sailed to Greece to join the army.

The picture shows him in uniform.  On the reverse is his June 19, 1913, message assuring his mother that he is still alive.  He wrote his mother again on July 11, 1913.  His letter also addresses his brother and uncle.  The text (my mother's translation) is as follows:
My respected Mother,

Up to this hour I am well.  Twenty-two days have passed to date since the [Second Balkan] war started.  Up until today we engaged the enemy whenever we meet him.  Yesterday we had a battle all day and engaged the enemy many hours but came out well.

If in this war I am killed don’t feel bad because I considered it my holy duty to fight for faith and country.  Life is nothing since we are to die at one time or another – whether young or old.  In any event I am letting you know that I have in the bank in Albany NY (in English it is the Nat’l Savings Bank of the City of Albany NY; 72 State St.) the number of the bank book is 76076.  I have deposited in this bank [$]574.32.  This book I have left in the Ionian Bank in Argostoli, together with a letter.  I have given right to the Ionian Bank after 1½ years to draw this money from the Amer. Bank., i.e. in 1914 about June or July, I believe, in the letter that I have sent to the Ionian Bank together with the book, I have directed that this money be placed in the bank and the interest thereof be taken by my mother as long as she lives.  Following this, these monies shall be my brother’s, Dionysios.  I have also in this same bank, as you know and you have the (omologies, sum?), the one sum being 1240 drachmas and the other 3077, the sums of these and the interest thereof to be my mother’s and after her, to Dionysios.  These are the things I have to tell you.  Nicola, son of Efthemios Kouloumbis owes me 200ºº and Nicola Golopavlou (?) 60 drachmas which I gave him in the village and in Athens.  This is what I had to tell you.  Having no more orders to give you, I leave you and kiss for me Kalomyra, Tassia, Basiliki, her children, Grigori, (Anan?) Zisimos and his children, Kardakates, Gerasimos and his children, Dionysi and N. Barkio, Vangelli and his children and all the relatives.

I kiss you, kiss you, my mother, your son,

Spiros G. Toumasatos

Brother Dionysi I kiss you; if I am killed please try and not let our mother suffer.  I urge you indeed as you marry and our family enlarges to stand by and help our uncle, Stavros as much as you can because he offered us filial services.  Having nothing else to say, I kiss you sweetly.  Your brother,

Spiros Toumasatos

Uncle Stavro,

I recognize the filial obligations which you rendered us.  Life has not allowed me to do my duty toward you.  Be patient and I pray to God that he spare your son, Dennis, to care for you, and throw a stone at the past.  I greet all the relatives.  Having no more to say, I kiss you –

Your nephew – Spiros Toumasatos

11 July 1913 – At this moment we are near the Bulgarian-Turkish border.

Spiro's brother Dionysios also fought in the Balkan Wars.  Here he is pictured (third from the left) with some of his companions.

Dionysios Toumasatos Livadas (1914)

Pre-departure fundraising events in the U.S., usually organized by Greek immigrant women, raised huge sums.  Many U.S. Greeks were outfitted by U.S. or state militia quartermasters.  They arrived in Greece wearing official U.S. army uniforms, U.S. buttons and insignia included.  Some had trained in state militias.  Some carried the U.S. flag onto the Balkan battlefields.  These Americanized Greeks were seen as the backbone of the Greek Army, so much so that one of the first officers to enter Thessaloniki after final hostilities ended was a Greek-American officer.

Greek Americans leaving for Greece aboard Madonna

[principal source:  Peter S. Giakoumis, The Forgotten Heroes of the Balkan Wars:  Greek-Americans and Philhellenes 1912-1913 (Starry Night Publishing 2020)]

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"Are You Orthodox?" (Final)

Leaving Aghiou Pavlou
It took me only about ten minutes to get downhill to Aghiou Pavlou's landing.  By 8 a.m. I was aboard the northbound caïque on my way to Dafni.  The boat had started from the skete of Aghia Anna farther down the coast and was already crammed with passengers and baggage.

Hugging the shore the entire way, the boat skirted below immense stone outcroppings.  Those that were detached from shore towered overhead, seeming to balance precariously in the sea.  Elsewhere, huge shale formations swirled up and down like immense slabs of cake frosting.

We reached Dafni in an hour with all the usual commotion at each intervening stop.  There, I had to wait until 12:30 for the larger caïque to depart northward.

 *  *  *

While waiting, I fell into discussion with Manolis, a law student at the University of Komotini in northern Greece.  He seemed about my age and was on his way south to the Holy Mountain.  He had read widely, and our discussion turned to the meaning of Orthodoxy, which he defended as the correct interpretation of the patristic writings.  One cannot correctly understand these writings, he urged, unless one reads them in the Orthodox spirit.  Unlike the religions and philosophies of the West, Orthodoxy, he contended, is not dependent solely on the activity of the brain and logic.  Rather, it is a matter of both reason and spirit.  One does not merely think in Orthodox terms; one lives an Orthodox life.  It is a matter of total experience, and no amount of reading, absent a proper spiritual understanding, will give greater understanding of it.

I told him I had no problem with this interpretation.  But what bothered me was when the adherent of any one religion claimed to have the absolute truth.  He agreed that this could be a problem because it often leads to un-Christian behavior.  We are all humans and thus we are at present, anyway, capable of only imperfect understanding of divine ways.  Who are we to proclaim the truth of our mere thoughts and suppositions?

Manolis urged me to leave the U.S. if possible.  He couldn't imagine how anyone could live there willingly.  He kept emphasizing the differences between East and West and how Orthodoxy reflects them.  One example, he said, is the notion of beauty.  Greek churches, for example, are built humbly low to the ground and, in his opinion, harmoniously with nature.  Similarly, the white-washed houses of the Greek countryside.  These reflect our humility before the power of nature and acknowledge our status within the larger scheme of things.

By contrast, the West builds its churches with tall steeples, as if to proclaim man's ability to challenge and overpower nature, a measurement of existence according to man's standard, not God's.  He viewed this as a sort of hubris that the Greeks had wisely avoided.  For Manolis, Protagoras's proclamation of man as the measure of all things had no place in Orthodoxy.

I reminded him that not all churches in the West are vast Gothic cathedrals like Chartres, and that most of them are in fact quite small.  The matter of the beautiful houses gave me an opportunity to compare my abhorrence of having to accept someone else's notion of beauty with having to accept someone else's version of Orthodoxy.   Skyscrapers, I maintained, can be beautiful too, and who is to say which is the "truly" beautiful, the humble white-washed Greek house or the "hubristic" skyscraper of the West?

 *  *  *

From Dafni, the larger caïque deposited me at Ouranoupolis in an hour.  From there, the bus returned me to Thessaloniki in three and a half hours.

 *  *  *

Thinking back on my visit after all these years, I have come to see that Viscount Norwich was exactly right in his assessment of Mount Athos.  Those who visit, he said, "find themselves by turns entranced and revolted, bewildered and enlightened, depressed and exhilarated, terrified and consoled."  That is precisely how Mount Athos struck me.

And what has been Mount Athos's effect on my Orthodoxy?

In one sense, Mount Athos solidified my Orthodox faith.  That September, even for just a few days, Mount Athos unplugged me from the everyday world and permitted me to see and experience Byzantine Christianity up close.  I felt Orthodoxy's deep pull and profound strength.  Its long history was palpable.  Its truths seemed transcendent and eternal, reaching far beyond the ethno-centric immigrant faith the Greeks had brought to America, which till then was the only version of Orthodoxy I had known.  These sensations unavoidably gave my faith a distinct frame of reference, a tangibility in time and space, and a bit of newly discovered profundity that helped me understand, or at least tolerate, much of what had previously been obscure or repulsive.  It gave me the incentive to give Orthodoxy another try.

But my visit did not remove all skepticism, not skepticism about faith, but about how Orthodoxy presents the faith.  The gullibility of the monks for preposterous legends.  The ridiculous rules, such as no crossing of legs or arms.  These continued to offend me.  It struck me that much of the place's appeal was mostly to simple uneducated monks for whom Mount Athos was a refuge from the pressures and hazards of life in the world.  On Mount Athos, some of them may have had more to eat and may have enjoyed better living conditions than they would have had at home.  But they struck me as essentially 0blivious to the real mysteries of Orthodoxy.

Over the centuries, Mount Athos has had its ups and downs.  Even in the past century there have been major fluctuations in the numbers of monks populating the various monasteries, as these figures show:


  • 1903 - 456
  • 1959 - 101
  • 1968 - 68
  • 1971 - 57
  • 1980 - 52
  • 2000 - 78


  • 1903 - 219
  • 1959 - 35
  • 1968 - 26
  • 1971 - 31
  • 1980 - 40
  • 2000 - 45

Aghiou Pavlou

  • 1903 - 250
  • 1959 - 115
  • 1968 - 111
  • 1971 - 96
  • 1980 - 81
  • 2000 - 104

Panteleimonos (Roussikon)

  • 1903 - 1,928
  • 1959 - 61
  • 1968 - 27
  • 1971 - 24
  • 1980 - 30
  • 2000 - 53

[source:  Graham Speake, Mount Athos:  Renewal in Paradise (Yale Univ. Press:  2002), pp. 169-174]

I didn't realize it at the time, but what I saw in 1980 -- the tumbledown monasteries populated with a few aged monks -- was Mount Athos at its most recent nadir.  The Holy Mountain was suffering from the 20th century's advanced secularism and the triumph of democracies over the empires and kingdoms and principalities that had previously kept the place supplied with means and men.

Especially harsh had been the fall of imperial Russia and the corresponding suppression of Orthodoxy behind the Iron Curtain.  In 1980, who could foresee that all would change beginning nine years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the disappearance of the Iron Curtain?

As we now know, Viscount Norwich proved to be terribly wrong in describing Mount Athos as "an anachronism, and one which modern Greece is no longer able to indulge."  His dire prediction that it would become a tourist destination for both sexes or simply a museum lacking any vestige of the Holy Mountain's original life was also entirely off the mark:

Droves of tourists, while they embarrass the resources of the remaining monks and disturb the quiet of centuries, may in the end provide the means to preserve the skeletons of at least the most famous, most historical and perhaps the most beautiful of these ancient institutions, but by then the danger is that all the original life will have gone, and the peninsula will contain a series of hotels catering for the young of all ages and sexes, perhaps one large museum housed centrally in the Protaton and all the wealth of timber and wild life given over to insecticide and fertiliser.

[J. Norwich & R. Sitwell, Mount Athos (Harper & Row, New York:  1966), 98, 147; Speake 169-70]

In recent years, money and new monks have poured in through the revival of Russia and the former Iron Curtain countries, a general rekindling of interest in Eastern Orthodoxy, and the establishment of support groups like the Friends of Mount Athos (formed in Great Britain in 1990).  They have sparked the Holy Mountain's remarkable revival.

Stavronikita has added a third floor

Entire monasteries have been re-built or repaired.  They look well-ordered and prosperous.  Most seem to have embraced electric power.  Monasteries swarm with monks of all ages and from all over the world, many of whom are well educated.  They use cell phones and laptops.  They have internet access.  Visitors -- 320,000 of them in 2015 -- throng the Holy Mountain and move between monasteries by taxi and bus.  They now arrive at Dafni on large ferries that disgorge cars, trucks, and buses.

Some monasteries, like Iviron, have returned to cenobiticism.  When I visited Iviron in 1980, it was idiorrhythmic and had some fifty monks.  [In saying fifty monks, I am deferring to Speake's statistics (recorded above), not what I was told the population was when I visited in 1980:  twenty-five monks.]  Now it is cenobitic and has close to eighty.  The hideous gazebo in which I sat to write has been replaced by an attractive structure that harmonizes with the landscape and with the architecture of Iviron's other structures.

The new gazebo at Iviron

Even Covid has come to Mount Athos.  Eight cases were reported at Aghiou Pavlou as of late Sept/early Oct. 2020, and the monastery was placed in quarantine.  One infected person was hospitalized in serious condition.  Kathimerini reported a ninth case at Chilandariou and a tenth at the monastic village of Lakkoskete.  Greece's National Public Health Organization sent a team to the area.  It was unknown whether those living on the mountain were observing health protocols required for the rest of Greece, such as wearing masks.

* * *

My dream has been to return, to see the changes for myself, and to experience once again the strange effect of the place.  Regrettably, my health won't allow it.  But I will forever cherish the memories of my two visits to the Holy Mountain and how they helped me wrestle with and shape my answer to "Are You Orthodox?"

Sunday, December 19, 2021

"The War President"


n 1949, eleven years after becoming a member of the AHEPA, Dad was elected District Governor of Empire State District No. 6, the highest statewide office in the fraternity. He was thirty-seven.

Leon Marketos (1949)

This is the medal (front and back) that he was awarded at the end of his tenure.

Late that year, AHEPA Supreme President, John G. Thevos, appointed Dad chairman of a committee to arrange for the re-location of a large bronze bust of FDR, titled “The War President,” located on the grounds of the FDR Library at Hyde Park, New York.  The AHEPA had presented the bust to President Roosevelt six years earlier in March 1943, but the statue had been placed in an out-of-the-way location, and it was decided to move it to a more prominent spot on the Library grounds.  As other re-location committee members, Dad appointed past District Governor George H. Miller (Painted Post, N.Y.; later to become my godfather), past District Governor George Dimas (New York City), George Kastrinos (Astoria), Harry Morris (Utica), and Constantine Bliziotis (a member of the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., AHEPA Chapter No. 158).

“The War President” was both an expression of Greek American patriotism during wartime and also evidence of the fraternity’s affection for a distinguished fellow member.  FDR had joined the AHEPA in 1931 when he was Governor of New York and remained a dues-paying member of Delta Chapter No. 25 in New York City until his death in 1945.

The sculpture came about through the efforts of George C. Vournas (1897-1995), a nationally prominent Greek American and the AHEPA’s Supreme President during the war years.  In 1942, Vournas became aware that Walter Russell (1871-1963), an eminent New York artist, was preparing a bust of FDR entitled “The War President.”  Though the sculpture had been approved by the President and his family, it was stipulated that it could not be presented by any person or group against whom there might be the slightest suspicion of “having an axe to grind."  Negotiations were undertaken with the White House, and the AHEPA prevailed over other contestants for the honor of presenting the bust to the nation. 

A fund of $25,000 for the project was privately raised from 233 donors in the AHEPA leadership.  Among the contributors were my godfather, George Miller ($100), and our cousin Dean Alfange ($100).   The sculptor received $12,000; additional funds were used to make up 328 miniature replicas in cast marble for presentation to various dignitaries.  The original idea was to cast the bust in bronze, but this was deemed inappropriate during wartime, when FDR himself had cleared his desk of all metal for the war effort.  So the original bust was made in stone, weighing over half a ton.

At an Oval Office ceremony on March 10, 1943, the AHEPA formally presented the bust “through you [FDR], to our fellow Americans.” Vournas explained that the original would be erected on a specially designed pedestal on the Library grounds at Hyde Park at a ceremony later in the summer, but that did not happen.

According to William D. Hassett, FDR’s correspondence secretary (and later, President Truman’s as well), FDR considered the bust to be an “atrocity.”  He said so on April 9, 1943, having that day seen (evidently for the first time) the actual full-size marble sculpture at Hyde Park rather than the small replicas the AHEPA delegation had presented a month earlier in the Oval Office.  He did not like the hooked nose Russell had given him.  Hassett considered Russell to have “unloaded” the sculpture on the FDR Library, the staff of which considered the sculpture to look more like Spencer Tracy, the actor.  In Hassett’s view: “[i]f Russell had talent in proportion to his nerve, he would be a rival of Michelangelo.  This is destined for storage, although the Order of Ahepa, which bought it from Russell, is in cahoots with him to achieve mutual fame by placing the bust in the outside court of the Library.  It would frighten patrons away.  The war will furnish the out for all this.”  [William D. Hassett, Off the Record with FDR, 1942-1945 (Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1958), pp. 164-165.]

Sometime between the Oval Office ceremony and June 1943 it was decided “The War President” would be unveiled after the war when a bronze version could be cast.  President Roosevelt never saw it, however.  He had died five months before Harris Booras (then AHEPA Supreme President) and two other representatives of the fraternity met with President Truman in Washington on September 19, 1945, to present the bronze version.  On October 29, Dad attended a Hyde Park dedication ceremony for the bronze bust.

Five years later on January 11, 1950, Dad initiated re-location activities by conferring for an hour and a half with the Director of the FDR Library, Herman Kahn.  The Director was enthusiastic about moving the statue to a place where it would be seen by more visitors, saying it had already become one of the most photographed subjects at Hyde Park.  At the time, the statue was located in a sunken garden, and the plan was to move it to a location immediately south of the Library a few steps from the walkway around the south side used by practically every visitor to the site.  A new, more formal pedestal of granite would be required to replace the then-existing one of fieldstone.  The sculptor, Walter Russell, could not be found to fashion a new pedestal.  Mr. Kahn therefore recommended Charles J. Cooke, a distinguished Poughkeepsie architect, to design the new pedestal.

In June 1950, the architect submitted rough sketches of the newly designed pedestal (brown granite) and the bluestone terrace on which it was to be placed.  He estimated the project would cost $2,000, including some simple landscaping.  The design was approved by the AHEPA at its Cleveland convention in August 1950, and $2,000 was appropriated.  At the convention, Dad did not support Thevos for re-election, and he wondered in September 1950 whether he would still remain on the re-location committee.  Thevos reassured Dad in October that he was still chairman of the committee.

The architect submitted construction drawings to the Library Director at the end of November, in which it was decided to eliminate the bluestone terrace and substitute bluestone paving treads with grass between them leading from the walkway to the pedestal.  The plans were approved by the Library and the General Services Administration (which administered the grounds).  A slight change was made, allowing the bluestone treads to proceed completely around the statue, and correspondence was exchanged with the architect about the wording that would be incised on the front of the pedestal and the bronze plaques that would be affixed to the rear.

Plan and elevation drawings were available by December 1950.  In February 1951, the architect submitted specifications for the pedestal and related work.  The specifications described the pedestal as being of polished Sandvik granite as produced by the H.E. Fletcher Co. of New York City.  Three bids were received from contractors on March 1 ranging from $2,085 to $2,535, each including an allowance of $1,400 for the cost of the granite pedestal.  The contract was awarded to the low bidder, Tony Leo & Son, of Poughkeepsie.  The architect’s fee was $282.

In March 1951, the AHEPA Supreme Lodge authorized the necessary expenditure above $2,000 to pay for the work.  The contract for the work was signed in May.  Commencement of the work was delayed by weeks, however, when it was discovered that the granite block that was to be fashioned into the pedestal was cracked and another had to be ordered.

 AHEPA President Thevos’s March 29 letter authorizing Dad to proceed asked him to “arrange with the authorities at Hyde Park for fitting ceremonies to be held upon the completion of the work.”  Judging by Dad’s notes, someone felt a need to “make amends for [the] previous dedication.”  This must have been the October 29, 1945, Hyde Park ceremony.  His notes do not say why amends were necessary.

The committee met on May 20, 1951, at the Bardavon Restaurant in Poughkeepsie to formulate plans for the ceremonies.  The Library Director, the GSA Custodian (Palmer), and the architect were also consulted.  Ambitious plans were formulated for a re-dedication ceremony to be held on July 22, 1951, “in a manner so as not to cause the same embarrassment to the Poughkeepsie Chapter as did the first dedication.”  The ceremony at the Library would be preceded by a one-hour afternoon reception at the Nelson House (the per-person cost was projected to be $2.50).  Engraved invitations to the ceremony and reception, signed by Thevos as Supreme President and Dad as chairman of the re-location committee, would be issued to various dignitaries and their wives.  Prior to the ceremony, the District Lodge would privately lay a wreath at FDR’s grave.  Dad was to conduct the ceremony.  George Vournas would be the sole speaker, the Library Director advising that the only limitation on speeches was that they were not to be of a political nature.  A band would play music before and after the ceremony.

The invitees were to include all past District Governors of Empire District No. 6, His Grace Archbishop Michael, His Excellency Ambassador Polites, Past Supreme President George Vournas, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., and all members of the AHEPA Supreme Lodge.   Consideration was also given to inviting Lincoln McVeagh, Henry Goody, former ambassador Henry Morgenthau, the local Member of Congress, the mayors of Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park, a professor of Greek from nearby Vassar College or the state university, the county sheriff, local judges and other local dignitaries, and the rector of St. James Church at Hyde Park.

Dad’s June 1, 1951, letter to Vournas invited him to be the main speaker.  According to the letter, Vournas had been “the prime force in the creation of the bust,” but (for unexplained reasons) he had not been invited to the original dedication ceremony in 1945.  Vournas replied on June 4 that he was inclined to accept the invitation, but he feared the committee’s decision might have adverse repercussions:
Having . . . somewhat more varied experience in Ahepa management and affairs, I fear that my answer may create problems for your committee before the Supreme Lodge.  May I inquire whether your committee has cleared the extent and purview of its authority with the Supreme President?  My fears may be totally unjustified, but it may be that the Supreme President or the Supreme Lodge may step in at some future date and challenge the authority of the committee in making final rededication plans.  There are precedents – I regret to say – for such action.
Responding on June 7, Dad assured Vournas that, while he had not cleared the matter with the entire Supreme Lodge, the committee had discussed the subject with Thevos, “who, in fact himself suggested that you should be the main speaker, as early as the Cleveland Convention.”

The committee’s ambitious plans for July 22 never materialized.  On June 8, 1951, Dad received Thevos’s June 5 letter to the re-location committee and AHEPA officers nationwide.  The letter commended Dad and the committee for their fine work, but requested that the ambitious plans being formulated for a re-dedication be cancelled.

Acknowledging that the plans underway resulted from his suggestion that such ceremonies be arranged, Thevos nevertheless urged that, with the “mistake” of the statue’s location now being corrected, the AHEPA’s purpose in erecting a memorial for the ages that would reflect positively on FDR and on the AHEPA had now been accomplished.  Re-dedicating the statue, following the 1945 formal dedication, would be “gilding the lily.”  He also cited financial concerns, stating that ambitious ceremonies and their attendant additional expense of $400 to $500 “could not be justified within the letter or the spirit of the appropriation made by the last National Convention.”  He therefore urged that, following completion of the re-location work, the proceedings be limited to a visit to Hyde Park by the committee and the officers of the Poughkeepsie chapter to meet with the Library Director, the GSA Custodian, and the architect.  Photos of the meeting and “a complete documentation of the history and events of the re-location” would be published in “The Ahepan” magazine and in the Supreme Lodge’s 1951 Year Book.  Thevos would not be able to attend due to the pressure of the forthcoming national AHEPA convention in Minneapolis.

Thevos’s directive caught the committee completely by surprise.  At a hastily arranged meeting in New York on June 17, it was decided “the committee had no alternative but to abide by the direction of our Supreme President and to cancel all rededication plans.”  Dad’s disappointment was palpable when he informed committee member Harry Morris, who could not attend the June 17 meeting, that “we will have a meeting at Poughkeepsie as scheduled on July 22 to take photographs and to express our thanks to the director of the Hyde Park Library and other officials.”

Vournas’s fears that Thevos or the Supreme Lodge might step in to challenge the committee’s plans seem to have been well founded.  Dad’s June 19 letter to Thevos implies that the selection of Vournas as the main speaker had something to do with the decision to cancel a formal re-dedication ceremony:
I was shocked, amazed, and mystified last Sunday when I met with Brothers Dimas, Kastrinos, and Miller, and was informed that you have taken the position that it was my idea to have Brother Vournas as the main speaker at the rededication ceremonies originally scheduled at Hyde Park.

For my information, I would like to hear from you as to whether these gentlemen misunderstood you.  I do not believe you will have forgotten that it was you who originally suggested that Brother Vournas should be the main speaker and that I should be Master of Ceremonies at the exercises.

Having discussed this with you on several occasions, I informed our committee that it was your suggestion to invite Brother Vournas, and on June 1st. forward[ed] our invitation to him.
Thevos never replied.  George Miller, inquiring whether Dad was going to attend the AHEPA national convention in Minneapolis later in the summer, said:  “If you are going, don’t be bashful about criticizing the administration on the Hyde Park doings.”

Dad revered Vournas.   Thevos was not spoken of the same way.  Dad would surely have been inclined to rectify the injustice of Vournas’s exclusion from the 1945 dedication by asking him to be the main speaker at the re-dedication in 1951.  But he would not have violated AHEPA protocol to do so.  So I am certain he would have raised with Thevos in advance the question of who should be the main speaker, and that the selection of Vournas was Thevos’s idea, just as Dad claimed.  I suspect that Thevos or someone on the Supreme Lodge had second thoughts about Vournas or had some kind of antipathy toward him and decided to renege at the last moment, just as Vournas had predicted.  The additional expense of $400-$500 cited in Thevos’s June 5 letter was surely just a pretext.

The re-location was commemorated at a simple ceremony conducted at the FDR Library at 3:00 p.m, on Sunday, July 22, 1951. Mrs. Roosevelt attended.

Photos were taken.

July 22, 1951

Dad’s report was duly made to the Minneapolis convention and published in “The Ahepan.”  And to this day, “The War President” stands on its brown granite pedestal in the garden of the FDR Library at Hyde Park, New York.

War Bonds


aving been “duly initiated into the sacred mysteries” of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), Dad joined the fraternity’s Mohawk Valley Chapter No. 143 on April 20, 1938, at age twenty-five, a year after completing law school.  He soon got busy leading the chapter’s war bond sales during World War II.

Leon Marketos (1937)

AHEPA Chapter No. 143 was formed in May 1927, five years after the founding of the AHEPA itself.  Among the chapter’s charter members was my maternal grandfather, Dimitrios Cosolias.  In recent years, the chapter’s declining membership caused it to be merged into the nearby Syracuse chapter.

The AHEPA press book distributed for the guidance of local chapters boasted of the unique honor of being designated an official issuing agent for war bonds:
Cognizant of AHEPA’s patriotic work in the past, the United States Treasury Department has designated the Order of AHEPA as an Official Issuing Agent in the sale of War Bonds Series E.  Thus, AHEPA is the first and only organization of its type to be so designated. . . . Our Government has faith in the AHEPA to mobilize a home front army of Americans of Hellenic descent, who, although all of them cannot fight with guns, can put guns into the hands of those who fight.
The AHEPA drive officially started October 28, 1942, the second anniversary of Greece’s answer “No” to Mussolini’s demand for capitulation, a heroic challenge to fascism that electrified the free world.  The bond drive was to close on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1943.  Its mission was to sell $50 million worth of war bonds nationally in 118 days.  The quota for Mohawk Valley Chapter No. 143 was $60,000.  Already serving as president of the Utica chapter at the time, Dad also became chairman of the chapter’s bond drive committee:
At a meeting held at the Morris Coffee Shop Dec. 8th [1942] President Leon Marketos of Mohawk Valley Chapter 143 was nominated and unanimously elected chairman of the Bond Drive sponsored by the Order of Ahepa.
Brother Spiros Livadas Rochester N.Y., district treasurer of the Order [of] Ahepa, explained the proposed drive and suggested method of procedure.
Other members of the committee to assist Brother Marketos in connection with the drive elected unanimously was brother James Katapodes [secretary] and Harry A. Morris [treasurer].  The General committee appointed includes brother Louis Colocotronis, Hercules Gianatos, Peter Karayanes, James Badjiakas [vice-chairman], James Manolatos, Thomas Morris, Peter Leon, Pantelis Caloyanes, Basil Brown [publicity director], Thomas Catris, Elias Gianatos, George Georgules, Spyros Livada, Thrasivoulos Livada.

Brother Livadas (Rochester) to start the ball rolling subscribed for a $100 bond to be credited to the Utica chapter.  Thrasivoulos Livada $1,500 bond maturity value. Basil Brown $100.  James Katopodes $1,000.  Louis Colocotronis $500.  Leon Marketos $200.  Peter Karayanes $200.  James Badgiakas $500.  H. Morris $1,500.  Mr. Leon $1,500.  James Manolatos $1,000.
Brother Livadas at the conclusion of the meeting congratulated those present for raising $10,000 starting the campaign and predicted the success of the drive.
Brother Anagrios, formerly of Syracuse and now of Rochester, N.Y., spoke in similar vein.
The Series E war bonds were sold in denominations of $25 (issue price $18.75), $50 ($37.50), $100 ($75), $500 ($375), and $1,000 ($750).  On May 28, 1943, Dad reported (probably to the Oneida County War Finance Committee) that the chapter had sold $68,275 worth of bonds.  Another war bond drive was conducted in 1943 with the goal of selling $100 million in bonds between July 1, 1943, and July 1, 1944.  Dad actively participated in this and subsequent drives as well.  Altogether, the AHEPA’s war bond drives are said to have brought in more than $500 million.

For his “splendid and patriotic service to [his] country in connection with the War Bond Campaigns of World War II,” Dad was awarded a silver medal by the War Finance Committee of the U.S. Treasury Department, which was struck off “[a]s a special memento to be presented to a limited number of leaders who had been of outstanding service” during the various War Bond Campaigns.  The medal is engraved with his name and was also presented on behalf of the Oneida County War Finance Committee.

He also received two written citations from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Tribulations of Rev. Dr. Jonas King

Jonas King in Syrian garb
(early 1820s)
Jonas King died in Athens after a lifetime of missionary work, most of it in Greece.

He was born July 29, 1792, on the family farm in Hawley, Massachusetts.  Though his origins were humble, he was an industrious scholar.  He read the Bible through once between the ages of four and six and then once a year to age sixteen.  As a teenager he is said to have read all twelve books of the Æneid (in Latin, presumably) in fifty-eight days and the New Testament (in Greek, for certain) in six weeks.  He obtained degrees from Williams College (1816) and the Andover Theological Seminary (1819) and was ordained a Congregationalist minister in Charleston, South Carolina (1819).  Three years later he was appointed professor of oriental languages and literature at newly founded Amherst College, a position he held until 1828.  During his lifetime he studied eleven languages and spoke five fluently.

Somehow during his Amherst tenure he found time to join his seminary mate, Pliny Fisk, in Syria and Palestine for three years (1823-1825) as one of the first Americans to preach and distribute Bibles for the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions.  The ABCFM, formed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College, became the largest and most important of the nineteenth century American missionary organizations.

The ABCFM had a mixed view of the "Oriental Christian Churches," as it called the Eastern Orthodox and other Christian denominations of the Middle East.  The ABCFM's Protestant missionaries admired the churches' steadfast adherence to the Christian faith through centuries of subjugation under Muslim regimes.  But they condemned what they perceived to be an admixture of flawed belief and ignorant superstition.  King's experience in the Middle East was the beginning of a career devoted to "reforming" them.

*  *  *
Greece revolts
(by Louis Dupré, c. 1825)
One of King's first Greece-related actions was to encourage his fellow Americans in 1826 to support the Greeks in their struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire (1821-1832).  King saw the Greeks as a people of "genius and talents" who through five years of war had bravely clung to their Christian faith (imperfect as it was, in his view) at the risk of their lives.  They were ready, he urged, to receive "the light of science and the light of the gospel."  All they lacked was the necessary liberty to become "a nation civilized, noble and happy."  King therefore admonished his fellow citizens to pour out their treasure to support the beleaguered Greeks:  "If Greece falls, it will be an everlasting shame to every christian nation."

By 1828 King was back in the U.S.  By then, the war of independence had turned decidedly in the Greeks' favor with the military intervention of England, France, and Russia.  Late that year, the Ladies' Greek Committee of New York City (a group of wealthy Philhellenes) persuaded King to accompany a cargo of food and clothing destined for Greece and to remain there as a missionary at the committee's expense.  Once in Greece he re-allied himself with the ABCFM and continued his work under its auspices for the remainder of his career.

In 1829 he married Annetta Aspasia Mengous, a Smyrniot Greek.  Two years later, they established their home on Hadrian Street in the Plaka district of Athens on a plot he named "Philadelphia."  In 1829, he had also bought another large Athens parcel (more on that later).

Athens from the northeast (James Skene, 1840)
Athens at the time was no more than an overgrown village.  It would not become the official capital of the liberated Kingdom of Greece until 1834.  The city's population of about 10,000 lived amid the rubble of the Ottoman siege of the Acropolis, where a rebel Greek force had held out for two years (1826-1827).  In 1832, France, Britain, and Russia installed Otto of Wittelsbach (1815-1867), a teenaged Bavarian princeling, on the kingdom's new throne.  King Otto I, as he was called, would lack a proper palace until 1840.

*  *  *

Despite the unsettled conditions, King began establishing schools for boys, followed by schools for girls, soon after he arrived in Athens.  Scripture was the instrument of learning.  By 1832 he had established five schools and had begun to instruct a class in theology.

The College of New Jersey
The same year, his labors earned him a Doctor of Divinity degree (honoris causa) from the College of New Jersey in Princeton.  In 1836, two of King's Athens students, Constantine G. Menaios and Luke K. Œconomos, Greeks from Epirus (now a territory in northwestern Greece but at the time still part of the Ottoman Empire), made their way to the U.S. and were enrolled in the College of New Jersey.  At the request of a student society, the trustees waived all charges for them.  Menaios and Œconomos received degrees in 1840, but both died within two or three years.

In 1835, King began inviting people to his Athens home for classes in theology, his "Evangelical Gymnasium."  It also became his habit to preach every Sunday -- in fluent Greek -- to crowds of thirty to one hundred visitors in his home.  But Greece was not fertile soil for the seeds of Protestant evangelism.  King's theological sessions and preaching, though conducted mostly from the privacy of his home, nearly became his public undoing.

*  *  *

Greece's new constitution established Orthodoxy as the nation's "prevailing" religion.  Other religions were allowed, but none was permitted to proselytize in Greece.  No school, not even a private one in a home, could be established without government permission, which in turn required the approval of the Holy Synod, the kingdom's highest ecclesiastical authority.  Likewise, no book could be sold or given away in any place without a license for that place.  Despite such restrictions, between 1834 and 1836, King sold or distributed for free nearly 9,000 New Testaments in modern Greek and 87,000 school books and religious tracts.

The Holy Synod naturally became the state's agent for protecting the clergy and schools against the taint of non-Orthodox teaching.  It rigorously opposed Protestant evangelical "reforms," and King inevitably came into its sights.

Early in 1845, he was publicly accused of uttering impious language against the Virgin Mary.  His 200-page "Defense" invoked the writings of St. John Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, and other Greek Fathers, but fell on deaf ears.  In August, the Holy Synod denounced King as a vessel of Satan and ordered his "Defense" burned.  He was pronounced an outlaw, and on pain of ecclesiastical penalty all were forbidden to greet him in the street, enter his dwelling, or even eat or drink with him.

In September, the police entered his house and seized ninety-seven copies of his "Defense."  He was then summoned before a judge to answer charges that it "reviled the Mother of God, the holy images, the liturgies of Chrysostom and Basil, the seven œcumenical councils, and the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the fearful mystery of the communion."

In defense, King again invoked the Greek Fathers:
Q.  Have you any defense to make?

A.  Those things in my book with regard to Mary, with regard to transubstantiation, and with regard to images, I did not say; but the most brilliant luminaries of the Eastern Church, St. Epiphanius, St. Chrysostom, the great St. Basil, St. Irenaeus, Clemens, and Eusebius Pamphyli, say them.
It did him no good.  In October 1845, he and his book were excommunicated by the "Great Church" at Constantinople, Eastern Orthodoxy's supreme spiritual authority.  Precisely how a book could be excommunicated (or even someone who was not Orthodox in the first place) was evidently a mystery known only to the Great Church.

In 1846 King was summoned to appear before a criminal court in Athens on similar charges.  I do not know the outcome.  It happened again in 1847, this time because of a series of articles published in an Athens newspaper by someone named Simonides.  The articles, titled "King's Orgies," darkly described "shameful ceremonies" allegedly performed in King's house.  The articles produced a popular clamor that temporarily drove King to Italy.

He returned to Greece when a friendlier government took power in 1848.  By 1849 he was again printing religious books for his Athens book depository, preaching publicly on the Sabbath, and conducting a "Scripture exposition" on Thursday evenings.

*  *  *

In the spring of 1851, the same year he was appointed U.S. consular agent in Athens, his troubles resumed in earnest.

On March 23, a crowd of more than one hundred appeared at one of his home services.  They were bent on mischief, agitated by the Holy Synod's call for legal action against "the scandalous attacks of the American, King, on the Holy and Orthodox Church."  He dispersed the crowd, however, by brandishing from his porch a large U.S. flag, which he had received from Washington only the day before as an accoutrement to his new consular status.

Jonas King's house in Athens

But the pressure against him was unrelenting.  On May 15, 1851, he was arraigned before a judge to answer the charge of proselytizing.  His inquisition elicited a touch of sarcasm:
Q.  You are accused of having, this year and the last, expressed . . . principles, sentiments, and opinions, which attack in general the foundations of religion, and are otherwise injurious.  Have you anything to say by way of defense?

A.  What religion is meant?  If it be that of Mohammed, I may be guilty.
In September, his evangelism again caused him to be summoned to court, this time for  "reviling the Greek Church" in violation of Article 17 of the penal code.  For two years, it was charged, he had "[p]reached within his house in this place publicly, in the exposition of the sacred Scriptures, that baptism is no other than a simple symbol, and consequently it is indifferent whether men are sprinkled or immersed; that those who eat a little bread, and drink a little wine, are foolish in thinking that they will be saved by this communion; that the most holy mother of God is not ever-virgin; that those who worship her, as also the other divine images, are idolaters . . .."

*  *  *

Trial was ordered for March 5, 1852, a Friday, in the Athens Criminal Court on Athenas Street.  Public opposition to King was already at fever pitch, spurred on by local newspapers, particularly the Æon.  The day before, a widely circulated handbill invited all Christ-loving Athenians to attend the trial of "the famous false apostle, Jonas King," to see him convicted of "the foolish babblings he has uttered against the Mother of God, the Saints, the Images, and, in a word, all the Sacraments, Doctrines, and Traditions of our Holy Church."

Henry M. Baird (1832-1906)
The criminal court held its sessions in an old building on a corner where Athenas Street intersected a small lane.  The chief of police offered to escort King to the court in a carriage.  King declined and started walking from his home with his young son and Henry Baird, a twenty-nine-year-old visiting American who happened to staying at King's house.

The group stopped at the residence of Spyridon Pelikas, one of King's lawyers.  There King learned that the chief prosecutor, concerned about the public tumult, urged him to wait to enter the court safely.  Again King declined, and the group set out on foot.  With the aid of four policemen they pressed through an agitated crowd waiting at the courthouse, many of whom were Greek priests.  They entered the courtroom without incident, finding it already filled to to capacity. 

Baird attended the trial with King and recorded the proceedings in detail.  Nine of the prosecution's twelve named witnesses answered present to the clerk's call.  Only ten of King's twenty-one witnesses did the same.  King nevertheless consented to proceed with the witnesses present.

The offense charged was of secondary grade, so there was no jury.  From a platform facing the audience, a panel of five trial judges determined all questions of fact and law. 

Vasileios Nikolopoulos (1816-1887)
The presiding judge was Vasileios Nikolopoulos, the first graduate of the law school of the University of Athens (1846).  Two decades later, Nikolopoulos would himself become a criminal, being convicted in the "Simoniac" scandal (1875-1876) of complicity in the bribery of two cabinet ministers (one of whom was his father-in-law) by four candidates for metropolitan bishoprics.  He was sentenced to ten months in prison, and the scandal all but ended his public life.

The government's witnesses against King testified with emotion and partisanship.  One of them, a young man named Kyriakoules, expressed such enmity against King that judge Nikolopoulos had to interrupt him, shouting:  "You are here as a witness, not as an accuser!"  Kyriakoules persisted, trying to speak from notes.  He gave up when told his duty was merely to answer questions put to him.  Baird recorded that some people present were certain that Kyriakoules carried a dagger under his cloak.

In Baird's view, the prosecution's witnesses mainly testified truthfully.  But no Protestant, he thought, would have found anything objectionable in the words they attributed to King, nor that King's words amounted to a reviling of the Greek Church.  The testimony, he said, did no more than prove that King was faithful to the doctrines of the Congregationalist denomination.

Although the government witnesses claimed to have heard King utter language disrespectful of the Greek religion, not one of them cited King's exact words or specified where or when he made his allegedly disrespectful comments.  Demonstrating the general unfairness of the proceedings, one old witness was permitted to testify even though he admitted he had not been in King's home for seven years.  Two of King's publications were brought forward.  One was a book published years before the period of the charge; the other was published in the U.S., outside the territory of the charge.  Neither reviled the Greek church but merely advocated doctrines at variance with it.

When King's defense witnesses were not being browbeaten by judge Nikolopoulos, they were rattled by the audience's tumultuous applause or antagonistic hooting, which the court did nothing to restrain.  When a court bailiff tried to silence some of the noisier priests present, judge Nikolopoulos reprimanded the bailiff and removed him from office for the day.

Spyridon Pelikas (1805-1861)
The court cut off one of King's two lawyers, Mr.  Triantaphyllos, when he attempted to contradict the religious points made by the prosecutor.  Only Protestant counsel, he was admonished, would be permitted to mount a religious defense.  In the face of such absurdity, Triantaphyllos was left to urge that the Greek constitution and laws guaranteed religious toleration and freedom of speech.  King's other lawyer, Pelikas, pleaded that the expression of opinion did not amount to reviling the Greek religion.

After a brief rejoinder by the prosecutor, King himself rose to say a few words in his defense.  He intended to prove that the case against him was the product of a conspiracy led by some of the prosecution's witnesses.  The judges rose too, however, and began to leave as King spoke.  Perceiving their impatience, King gave up.  The trial had lasted six hours.

Half an hour later, the judges reappeared and orally delivered their judgment that King was guilty as charged.  In a later written version, the court cited only two "incontestably malevolent" expressions against the church, namely, calling the Mother of God simply a woman who bore other children besides Jesus Christ, and saying that Holy Communion consisted merely of bread and wine, not the transubstantiated body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Following announcement of the judgment, the prosecutor moved for a sentence of three months' imprisonment as mandated by law, followed by King's banishment as a convicted criminal and a person "pre-eminently dangerous to the common safety and to morals, by his manner of life, character, and conduct."  King's counsel opposed the motion, objecting in particular that nothing in King's life justified the latter portion of the proposed punishment.

Again the judges retired to confer.  They returned shortly and sentenced King to fifteen days' imprisonment and costs of the trial, followed by banishment from Greece.

The audience burst into prolonged applause and then moved to the street outside to enjoy the spectacle of King being taken away to prison.  The prosecutor, however, allowed King first to return to his house to prepare for imprisonment and exile.  A friendly police officer suggested they remain in the courtroom until the mob in the street dispersed.  But the mob remained.  The police therefore led King out a private passage, through an unoccupied shop, and to the Athenas Street entrance of the building where a carriage and two armed policemen waited.  Spotting them leaving from around the corner, the mob rushed the carriage but was driven back at bayonet point by soldiers stationed nearby, and King reached home safely.

Three days passed, but no attempt was made to arrest King for imprisonment.  His lawyers recognized the silence as a trick.  By law, appeals from criminal court decisions had to be taken within five days from judgment while the defendant was undergoing his sentence.  The government was purposely delaying King's imprisonment, allowing the five days to lapse to preclude an appeal.  King therefore had to demand imprisonment to preserve his right of appeal.

Entrance to the Madrasa prison,
the only portion that now survives
On March 9, King was initially confined for a few hours in Athens's dreaded Madrasa prison, where 125 prisoners occupied eleven small rooms.  In his diary, King wrote:  "My heart is now sorrowful, but full of joy.  I consider this as one of the brightest days of my life."

Afterward, he was transferred to police headquarters, where he was confined until he became sick and was returned home.  No one seemed to care because banishment was what the government and the mob really wanted.

*  *  *

The questions on appeal were whether a statement of opinion at variance with the doctrines of the Greek Church amounted to reviling the church and whether such an offense rendered a man dangerous to safety and good morals.  On March 25, a mere twenty days after pronouncement of the Criminal Court judgment, the Areopagus (Greece's Supreme Court) determined that the Criminal Court was competent to answer the two questions, affirmed the judgment that King had reviled the Greek Church, but disagreed that he had reviled religion in general (a strange decision given that the Areopagus had struck that charge from the indictment prior to trial).  Bizarrely, the Areopagus also reduced King's term of imprisonment from fifteen to fourteen days.

Twelve of Greece's most distinguished lawyers signed a letter declaring their dissent from the proceedings.  Much of the Athens press condemned the affair, calling it a violation of the religious liberty guaranteed by the Greek constitution and laws.  They also pointed out the stupidity (politely termed "a political solecism") of bringing an American government representative to trial in Athens and ordering his banishment from the country just when Greece was negotiating to allow the importation of Greek currants into the U.S. without duty.  Another newspaper, not ordinarily sympathetic to King, criticized the trial's debasement of legal proceedings and feared its effect on the U.S., which had been so enthusiastic in the cause of Greek independence.

*  *  *

George P. Marsh (1801-1882)
Events left King with no recourse but to invoke his status as U.S. consular agent and send a letter of protest to the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs.  This prompted Secretary of State Daniel Webster to commission George P. Marsh, U.S. Minister Resident in Constantinople, to investigate matters in Athens and make a report.  U.S. warships delivered Marsh to Athens on April 29, 1852.  He departed August 21 after making his investigation.

Edward Everett (1794-1865)
Webster died in office.  Based on Marsh's findings, Edward Everett, Webster's successor as Secretary of State, reported to the U.S. Senate (Feb. 5, 1853) on behalf of the outgoing President, Millard Fillmore.  In Everett's view, a combination of Greek ignorance of the proper maxims of criminal jurisprudence, incompetent judges, and outright prejudice against King had "corrupted the fountains of justice" and produced a total loss of confidence in the Greek courts.

President Fillmore's successor, Franklin Pierce, regarded the decision in King's case as "unjust and oppressive."  Marsh was ordered to return to Athens and communicate to the Greek government that Dr. King "did not have a fair trial, and that consequently the sentence of banishment ought immediately to be revoked."  After various evasions, subterfuges, and the elevation of Spyridon Pelikas (one of King's defense lawyers in the 1852 trial) to Minister of Justice, King's sentence of imprisonment and exile was fully remitted by royal decree in 1854.

*  *  *
Franklin Pierce
(1804-1869), c. 1852
Roger A. Pryor
(1828-1919), c. 1870
There was still, however, the problem of King's land parcel, purchased in 1829.  In 1835, as land values started rising after Athens became the Greek capital, the government had expropriated the parcel, ostensibly for use as a public park, but had never paid compensation.  The public park never materialized, yet King was himself debarred from using the land, and selling it was out of the question.

The standoff continued for two decades until 1855 when President Pierce commissioned Roger Atkinson Pryor, a Virginia lawyer, to obtain an indemnification.  The Greek government eventually paid King $25,000 (nearly $750,000 today).

*  *  *
King went back to preaching and publishing.  Public sentiment changed in his favor.  His weekly service once again had forty to fifty attendees.  By 1863, his standing had sufficiently improved that the president of Greece's Holy Synod, who had once denounced King as a reviler of the Greek Church, consented to a friendly meeting.  The following year, King was invited by Greece's new king to administer Holy Communion  in the palace.

From his arrival in Greece until 1864, King had never returned to the U.S.  That year, however, health reasons drove him home.  He remained in the U.S. for three years, returning to Athens in 1867 where he died two years later, May 22, 1869.  His grave, together with Annetta's, is in Athens's First Cemetery.

Jonas and Annetta King's graves in Athens's First Cemetery

*  *  *

Judged by his "reforms" of the Greek Orthodox Church, King's career in Greece was an abject failure.  Three years after his death, the ABCFM put as good a face on it as possible, sententiously claiming that "it is mainly to the preaching of Dr. King . . . in connection with his persistent and triumphant struggle with the Greek hierarchy, that we owe, under God, the visible decline of prejudice against evangelical truth and religious liberty."

King's struggle against the authorities in Greece was hardly "triumphant."  And it is doubtful that it reduced Greek Orthodox prejudice against evangelical truth.  But something can be said for its being the beginning of a decline in prejudice against religious liberty.

Alexandros Rangavis (1809-1892)
In 1867, two years before King's death, Alexandros Rangavis, Greece's first ambassador to the U.S., could boast that "t]he spirit of the Greek Church is that of perfect tolerance."  He was of course emphasizing Greece's legal guaranty of freedom of worship while ignoring its criminalization of proselytism.  Nevertheless, he was deliberately aligning Greece with the First Amendment's prohibition of laws against the free exercise of religion.

In 1874, Greece gave proof of Rangavis's assertion and realized one of King's earnest labors:  the establishment in Athens of the Greek Protestant Church.  Soon, more Greek evangelical churches were established in Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Volos, and Ioannina.

But Rangavis's claim of "perfect tolerance" has not been achieved.  Despite Jonas King's valiant efforts to reform the Greek Orthodox Church, Section 4 of Greek Law No. 1363/38, as amended by Law No. 1672/39, continues to subject anyone engaging in proselytization to imprisonment, a fine, and police supervision for six months to a year.