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First Name: Oliver

Last Name: Perry

Birthplace: South Kingston, RI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Hazard

Date of Birth: 23 August 1785

Date of Death: 23 August 1819

Rank or Rate: Commodore

Years Served:
Oliver Hazard Perry

•  War of 1812


Oliver Hazard Perry
Commodore, U.S. Navy

Oliver Hazard Perry was born on 23 August 1785 in South Kingston, RI. A member of an illustrious naval family, his father, Christopher Raymond Perry, served in the Continental and U.S. Navies. Matthew and his four brothers were naval officers and two of his three sisters married naval officers.

At the age of 13, Perry entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman. In 1812 he was given the rank of Commodore and placed in command of the forces on Lake Erie after war broke out with England. No ships were in existence there so he had to build a fleet. That was very difficult as iron, cannon, anchors, ropes and supplies had to be carried a long distance to the site near Erie, PA. Perry and his men successfully completed six vessels by July 1813, which were joined by others from Buffalo.

On 10 September 1813, this American fleet fought a British squadron off the island of Put-In-Bay, OH. Perry was aboard his flagship USS Lawrence; however, this vessel took heavy British fire. Carrying his battle flag emblazoned with the words, "Don't give up the ship," he abandoned the heavily damaged Lawrence and by small boat transferred to the nearby USS Niagara and sailed her into the British battle line. His cannon fire from the Niagara compelled a British surrender.

Perry re-boarded the heavily damaged Lawrence and received the British surrender on her deck and penned the famous words, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." He was the first in history to defeat an entire British squadron and successfully bring back every ship to his base. In 1819, he was sent to Venezuela on a diplomatic mission during which he contacted yellow fever and died at sea near Trinidad on his 34th birthday.


Many sites and towns across America are named for Perry. However, none are as immense and stunning as the Perry National Monument in Put-In-Bay, OH, that commemorates his victory during the War of 1812. The 352 foot Doric column edifice with an observation deck is also the burial place for some of the men, both American and British, who perished in the Battle of Lake Erie. 

Death and Burial

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry died on 23 August 1819 at sea near Trinidad. He was buried at Port of Spain, Trinidad, with full military honors. In 1826, his remains were moved from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Island Cemetery at Newport, RI, for burial.

Honoree ID: 2955   Created by: MHOH




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