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Oliver Hazard Perry
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (August 2, 1785 – August 23, 1819) was born in South Kingstownmarker, Rhode Islandmarker, the son of Captain Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander. He was an older brother to Matthew Calbraith Perry. As a boy, he lived in South Carolinamarker, sailing ships practicing for his future career as an officer in the US Navy. He served in the War of 1812 against Britainmarker, and earned the title "Hero of Lake Eriemarker" for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. The city of Perrysburg, Ohiomarker, Perry County, Kentuckymarker and its county seat Hazard, Kentuckymarker, the borough of Perryopolis, Pennsylvaniamarker, Perry County, Pennsylvania, Oliver Township in Perry County, Pennsylvania, as well as the village of Perrysburg, New Yorkmarker and its the surrounding township are all named after him.

Biography

Through his mother, Perry is descended from Scotland's national hero, William Wallace.

Educated in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker, Perry was appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy on April 7, 1799. During the Quasi-War with France, he was assigned to his father's frigate, the USS General Greene. He first experienced combat on February 9, 1800, off of the French colony of Haitimarker, which was in a state of rebellion.

During the First Barbary War, he initially served on the USS Adams and later commanded USS Nautilus during the capture of Derna.

At Perry's request during the War of 1812, he was given command of United States naval forces on Lake Eriemarker. He supervised the building of a small fleet at Dobbin's Landing in Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pennsylvaniamarker. On September 10, 1813, Perry's fleet defended against an attacking British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry's flagship, the USS Lawrence, was destroyed in the encounter and Perry was rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer command to the USS Niagara, carrying his battle flag (reading "DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP", the final words of Captain James Lawrence). Perry's battle report to General William Henry Harrison was famously brief: "We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop."
Perry's battle flag




His victory opened Canadamarker up to possible invasion, while simultaneously protecting the entire Ohio Valley. It was one of only two significant fleet victories of the war, along with the Battle of Plattsburghmarker.

In 1819, during an expedition to Venezuelamarker's Orinoco River Oliver Hazard Perry died of yellow fever contracted from mosquitos while aboard the Nonsuch. He was 34 years old. Perry's remains were buried in Port of Spainmarker, Trinidadmarker, but were later taken back to the United States and interred in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker. After resting briefly in the Old Common Burial Ground, his body was moved a final time to Newport's Island Cemetery, where his brother Matthew C. Perry is also interred. Monuments to Perry are located in Front Parkmarker at Buffalo, New Yorkmarker and Perry Square in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Perry's Monument at Put-In-Bay, Ohio.

References

  1. Skaggs, David Curtis. "Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy". US Naval Institute Press, 2006. P. 4


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