Perry, Oliver Hazard

Perry, Oliver Hazard (1785-1819) Naval Officer: Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, on August 20, 1785. A midshipman at the age of 14, he took part in the undeclared war with France in 1799 and 1800, and fought in the Tripolitan War in 1802-3 and 1804-6. Obtaining the rank of lieutenant, he was given the responsibility to build gunboats in Rhode Island and Connecticut from 1807 to 1809. Given command of the schooner Revenge, he recovered the Diana, an American ship that had been seized by the British. Later, his ship was run ashore in a fog off Rhode Island, but Perry was cleared of any responsibility during the investigation. After the War of 1812 began, he built a fleet in what is now Erie, Pennsylvania. his most famous battle took place on Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, when he defeated the British Lawrence with the American Niagara, despite having lost over 80% of his men. When he made his report to General William Henry Harrison, he included the now famous words: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." Perry went on to capture Detroit; invade Canada and serve as Harrison's aide at the Battle of Thames, in today's Ontario, Canada. While cruising the Mediterranean in 1816 and 1817, he struck a Marine officer named John Heath. Both Perry and Heath were court-martialed and reprimanded. They decided to duel. After Heath shot first, and missed, Perry refused to fire. In 1819, Perry led a diplomatic mission to Venezuela. He died of yellow fever off the island of Trinidad on August 23, 1819, and was buried in the Port of Spain. His remains were transferred to Newport in 1826.