The fervor for all things Greek that the United States experienced in the 1820s, and America's significant philhellenic support for the Greek Revolution, have been well-documented.
However, a lesser-known facet is the support extended by the African-American community to the Greek cause, with a notable African-American standing shoulder to shoulder with the Greeks.
Additionally, it's intriguing to note that the Greek Revolution not only inspired freedom struggles, but also became a symbolic beacon in the United States' own fight against the institution of slavery.
Emerging from this narrative is the story of James Jakob Williams, an African-American Philhellene hailing from Baltimore, Maryland.
As a U.S. Navy Marine, he showcased his valor during the 1815 U.S. - Algeria conflict, serving commendably under the esteemed U.S. Admiral Stephen Decatur.
Recognizing Williams' prowess, Decatur recommended Greece, a land that had renounced slavery, as his next destination after his naval duties concluded.
Touching Greek soil in January 1827, Williams allied himself with British Philhellene Admiral Thomas Cochrane.
Their camaraderie saw them through many a campaign until Cochrane's departure in December of the same year.
Yet, Williams' commitment to the Greek cause persisted. He often clandestinely ventured into hostile territories, risking his life to gather crucial intel for the Greek forces.
A testament to his bravery, during the liberation efforts of Nafpaktos, a cannon blast severely injured Williams.
Yet, in the face of adversity, he led a band of Greek warriors to commandeer the unmanned Greek vessel, Sotir (Savior), even drawing enemy fire upon himself to protect the ship from capture.
Sadly, this valiant African-American Philhellene's journey came to an end in Greece in 1829.
In honoring James Jakob Williams, we remember a man who tasted true freedom in his final years, amidst the rolling hills and shimmering waters of a liberated Greece.