A naval commander
who was an important figure in the War of 1812
. Perry was born on August 23, 1785 in South Kingston, Rhode Island
. At the age of 13, Perry joined the Navy
and sailed the Caribbean
under the command of his father, captain of the General Greene. Perry sailed with the navy to many exotic locations before being promoted to lieutenant
in 1805. In 1811
, while surveying harbors in Rhode Island, his ship crashed in bad weather
. Perry himself asked for an investigation
but was found blameless in the accident
In 1812, Perry was promoted to master-commandant and was given command of 12 gunboats as the US declared war on Britain. In early 1813 he moved to Sacket's Harbor on Lake Ontario, however the expected attacks at that location never materialized and he was sent to Erie, Pennsylvania where a fleet was being constructed to drive the British off of Lake Erie. Perry was appointed to command the construction of the fleet. On September 10, 1813, two months after finishing construction of the fleet, Perry engaged in battle with the British, beginning the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry was aboard the ship Lawrence, which took heavy enemy fire and lost over 80% of her crew. Perry transferred to the ship Niagara, took command, and sailed bravely into the enemy fleet. He sailed the Niagra directly into the lead ship of the British fleet while his crew fired rifles at the enemy. The British Fleet was already heavily damaged and quickly surrendered. After the battle, in a report to General William Harrison, Perry wrote his famous words: "We have met the enemy and they are ours..."
After the battle, Perry was a national hero and promoted to Captain. In 1819 on a diplomatic mission to Venezuela, he contracted yellow fever. On August 23, 1819, he died. In his honor, a moument stands at Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island in Lake Erie.