Philhellenism and the Development of Female-led Reform in the United States
About the Webinar
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.
Maureen Santelli is a Montana native. She attended the University of Montana in Missoula, where she earned undergraduate degrees in History and Classics. Santelli’s combined interests in ancient Greece, Rome, and early American history inspired her research as a graduate student at George Mason University, where she completed her Master's and PhD. Santelli has completed fellowships at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. She also has worked with the National Park Service as an interpreter and historian. Currently, she is an associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College where she teaches United States, western civilization, and world history courses. She has published an article with Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, "'Depart from that Retired Circle:' Women’s Support of the Greek War for Independence and Antebellum Reform." Her recent book, The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions, examines the rise of philhellenism in the United States and how the movement influenced both foreign and domestic policies during the early American republic.