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Perry, Oliver H.

Born: 1785-08-23 Washington County, Rhode Island

Died: 1819-08-23 Atlantic Ocean

Perry's brother and father were prominent American naval officer. Oliver H. Perry won appointment as midshipman to his father, Christopher R. Perry's, frigate in 1799, earned promotion to lieutenant, and in 1805, he earned command of his own schooner. In 1809, Perry received another independent command and freed an American ship that had been seized by the British, making him a national celebrity. In 1811, he married Elizabeth Champlin Mason, with whom he had five children.

As the War of 1812 approached, Perry requested a new command and the Navy put him in control of Lake Erie in 1813. Perry quickly constructed a lake squadron which, under the banner "Don't Give Up the Ship," defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie and gave the United States control of the Great Lakes. This was a highly symbolic victory, which earned Perry promotion to captain. Following the war, Perry assumed command of his own ship but his first voyage went very badly and resulted in a duel with the marine commander on board. In 1819, President James Monroe appointed Perry to a diplomatic mission to Venezuela, which Perry completed. He died en route to Trinidad.

Robert G. Baker, "Perry, Oliver Hazard," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 17:369-71.