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Memorial For First Greek U.S. Congressman

Jonathan-Peckham-MillerOn Saturday, April 20, in a modest and moving ceremony in the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a memorial dedicated to the Philhellene Colonel Jonathan Peckham Miller and to his adopted son, Lucas Miltiadis Miller, who was the first Greek American U.S. Congressman, was unveiled.

The memorial was erected by the American Philhellenes Society, who pursues to discover and highlight the American Philhellenes, who have offered practical assistance to Greeks during the 1821 Revolution. The effort was supported by two families from Chicago: By Erica and Theodoros Spyropoulos and Dimitris and Eleni Bousi. The event was attended by several U.S officials and among them was the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary John A. Scocos, who spoke about the timeless friendship and cooperation of the two countries.

The story of Jonathan Miller and Lucas Miltiadis Miller

As it was highlighted by the speakers in the event, the course of the two men, is one of those recorded in the history of Ecumenical Hellenism and has its particular value in the friendship between Greece and the U.S.A. Colonel Jonathan Peckham Miller, one of the most ardent supporters of the Struggle for the Greek Independence, set off from the U.S.A. on 15 September 1824 to reach the revolutionary Greece, carrying with two sailboats, he himself had rented, large quantities of medicines and food. On the same date had taken place the birth of Lucas Miltiadis. The child was born in Livadia and his parents were farmers.

Upon his departure from the U.S.A., Jonathan Miller, leaving behind his comfortable and wealthy life in order to join the revolutionary Greeks, said to his family: “I feel as a Greek and I’m ready to suffer for Faith and Freedom by their side.”

According to historical data, Jonathan Miller arrived at Galaxidi and for the next four years, with the rank of colonel, he fought alongside the Greeks at Mesologgi, Nafpaktos, Naplio and Athens. Before his return to America, he went to Livadia, where he met the grandmother of a  four-year old boy, Lucas Miltiadis, who was orphaned, as his parents were killed by the Turks. Miller adopted the child and took him to the U.S.A.

Lucas showed that he was charismatic, since he was a child. He graduated from Law School, while he specialized on issues relating to agricultural claims in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Then, the Spanish-American War started. Following in his father’s steps, he fought with the American army, with the rank of colonel. The retirement of Lucas Miltiadis Miller coincided with the decision of the governor of Wisconsin to cede large areas of land to those who chose to live there. The Greek boy settled there, along with the thousands of immigrants, especially from Central and Northern Europe. At the age of 29 he had managed to be elected to the local Parliament in 1953.

Three cities of the State of Wisconsin owe their names to Lucas Miltiadis Miller: Athens, Arkadia and Marathonas, created in the 1950’s by immigrants. He never stopped feeling Greek, as he used to say, and he never forgot his birthplace. Lucas Miltiadis Miller was repeatedly awarded for his contribution to Wisconsin. Even today, he is considered one of the major politicians who achieved the institutionalization of progressive principles. For ten years he served as Commissioner of Public Works in Wisconsin and as chairman of the commissions, gaining great recognition in the state. In 1891 elections, he was elected under the Democratic Party and served as a member of the 52nd U.S. Congress, with a two-year term.

Lucas Miltiades Miller passed away on 4 December 1902. He donated all his fortune to Wisconsin, which was distributed to the University, the Medical School and the National Park of Milwaukee, which bears his name.

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