History - Samuel Gridley Howe

Samuel Gridley Howe, M.D.
Excerpt from Portraits of Historic American Philhellenes by Frederiki Pappas

Portrait of Samuel Gridley Howe, MDSamuel Gridley Howe was born on November 10, 1801, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Joseph Neals and Patty Gridley. He graduated from Brown University in 1821 and received the degree of M.D. from Harvard in 1824.

Upon the completion of his studies, he set sail for Greece, determined to help the Greeks in their noteworthy struggle against the Turks. For six adventurous and heart-rending years he served in the Greek army with distinction, as a volunteer soldier and as a surgeon mainly in the town of Missolonghi, situated in western Greece, where he encountered and befriended Lord Byron. Furthermore, he devoted considerable time and effort in the reconstructing of the devastated country.

Howe hurriedly departed for America for a few months during his six year stay in Greece, in the hope of collecting provisions and clothing for the wretched Greeks and to plea for assistance. It was during his expedition that he published his widely acclaimed and sentimental “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution.” Howe’s determination and adeptness served as a milestone by informing Americans about the atrocities transpiring in Greece and managed to raise a generous sum for the purchase of food and footwear for the Greek soldiers. Howe personally distributed all the supplies wisely, giving them immediately to the weak but requiring able-bodied people to work on public works in exchange for supplies. This practical approach was further developed when he established a medical center on the island of Aegina. He also established an agricultural township for refugees in 1829 near the Corinth Canal.

Meanwhile, in 1829, Howe was involved in the opening and supervision of a school for the blind incorporated by the state of Massachusetts. Shortly he departed for Europe to inspect similar institutions, and in 1832, opened the school in his father’s house, and for the next 44 years was its director.

Howe was the champion of many notable causes in the area of school reform, instruction for the deaf, prison reform, care for the insane and the anti-slavery movement. Along with his wife, Julia Ward, he was co-editor of “The Commonwealth,” an anti-slavery paper.

In 1866, when a cry for help was heard from the Cretans, against their oppression from the Turks, Howe once again came to the aid of Greece. He visited many towns throughout the United States, lecturing about the Cretans cause and collected monetary assistance through local committees. In 1867, Dr. Howe, published an admirable plea to the American audience, urging them to assist the women and children of the Greeks from starvation on the island of Crete. Once again, Howe was successful in procuring food and clothing for the Greeks.

Samuel Gridley Howe, M.D. Memorial

Picture of Samuel Gridley Howe MD Memorial
Samuel Gridley Howe MD Memorial
Located in Tripoli, Arcadia, Greece

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