Greek Declaration of Independence

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Greek Declaration of Independence (1822)
885990Greek Declaration of Independence1822

We, the descendants of the wise and noble nation of the Greeks, contemporaries of the enlightened and civil­ised peoples of Europe, and beholding the advantages which they enjoy under the protection of the impenetrable aegis of the law, find it no longer possible to suffer to the point of numbness and self-contempt the cruel yoke of the Ottoman state, which has weighed upon us for more than four centuries and which, instead of reason, knows no other law than its own will, commanding and persecuting all things despotically and capriciously.

After years of slavery, we have finally been compelled to take up arms, to avenge ourselves and our country against a tyranny so frightful and in its very essence unjust as to be neither equal nor even comparable to any other.

The war we are waging against the Turks, far from being founded in demagoguery, seditiousness or the selfish interests of any one part of the Greek nation, is a national and holy war, the object of which is to reconquer our rights to individual liberty, property and honor, rights enjoyed by all the civilized neighbouring peoples of Europe and which from us alone the cruel and unprecedented tyranny of the Ottomans has tried to violently remove and within our very chests crush.

Have we something lesser than other nations, that we remain deprived of these rights, or are we of a nature lower or less civilised, that we should view ourselves as unworthy to enjoy them and instead be condemned to an eternal slavery, subjected, like automata or beasts of burden, to the absurd caprices of a cruel tyrant who, like a brigand, has come without justification from distant lands to subjugate us? Nature has sown these rights so deeply in the hearts of men that neither three nor four nor a thousand nor myriad centuries of tyranny can wipe them out. And if violence or power have for a time suppressed them, power can once again restore them, unaged and indelible as they were in centuries past. These are rights which within Greece we have never ceased to defend by arms when times and circumstances have permitted.

It is from these principles of natural rights and desiring to assimilate ourselves with our European Christian brethren, that we have embarked upon our war against the Turks. Uniting all our isolated strength, we have formed ourselves into a single armed body, firmly resolved to attain our end, to govern ourselves by wise laws, or to be altogether annihilated, believing it to be unworthy of us, as descendants of the glorious peoples of Greece, to live in a state of slavery fitted more for unreasoning ani­mals than for rational beings.

Ten months have elapsed since we began this national war and almighty God has surely aided us, as despite being inadequately prepared for so great an enterprise, our arms have everywhere been victorious, overcoming the power­ful obstacles which we have encountered and still encounter everywhere. We have had to contend with a situation bristling with difficulties, and we are still engaged in our efforts to overcome them. It should not, therefore, appear astonishing that we were not able from the very first to proclaim our independence and take rank among the civilized peoples of the earth, marching forward side by side with them. It was impossible to occupy ourselves with our political existence before we had established our independence. We trust these reasons may justify, in the eyes of the nations, our delay, as well as console us for the anarchy in which we have found ourselves.

Already as circumstances began to so permit, we decided or rather were compelled to organise a political Constitution for Greece, beginning with the Constitutions of Eastern Continental Greece, Western Continental Greece, the Peloponnese, the islands etc. As these mainly aimed at constituting and administrating the local affairs of the individual provinces and islands it was necessary to next create a general provisional government, competent in all internal and external relations of Greece. For the construction and constitution thereof, the various regions and islands have dispatched their plenipotentiary delegates, who in the national convention, having capably and duly considered and studied the common needs of the nation, have organised a provisional administration, by which all of Greece is to be henceforth governed. This government, supported by the basis of justice and good laws and organised according to the common will of the Greeks must be recognised by all peoples inhabiting Greece as the only legal and national administration.

The component bodies of this administration shall be two: the executive and the legislative, from which shall be appointed the judicial branch, which shall nonetheless remain wholly independent of the other two.

Thus declares the National Convention towards the entirety of the Greeks, that its work has been completed and that it is today dissolved. It is now the work and duty of the Greek people to show loyalty and deference to the Laws and to their implementing Ministers. Greeks, you said not long ago that you don't want slavery and the tyrant is retreating daily from among us. But it is only through harmony among you and loyalty to the administration that your independence can be cemented. May the powerful hand of the Almighty lift both rulers and subjects and the whole of Greece towards his divine wisdom, so that they may recognise the truth of their common interests. And may the former through good judgement and the latter through deference cement the prosperity of our common fatherland. May it be so.

Done in EPIDAURUS on the 15th of January, the First Year of Independence, 1822.