Oliver Hazard Perry(1785-1819) was born on August 23, 1785 in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The son of a U.S. Navy captain, Perry joined the Navy at the age of 13, fighting Barbary pirates on the Mediterranean Sea. He commanded his first ship, the 14-gun schooner Revenge, at the age of 24.
1811 · Revenge is shipwrecked. Perry is cleared of blame.
1812 · Perry marries Elizabeth Champlin Mason
1813 · "Don't Give Up the Ship" is sewn onto Perry's personal battle flag.
1818 · Perry fights pistol duel with Captain John Heath. No one injured.
Hero of the DayWhen the Navy Department placed Perry in charge of a squadron of small ships in Rhode Island, he longed for a more active post. His wish was fulfilled when in 1813, he was assigned command of the Lake Erie Squadron. Perry's heroic victory at the Battle of Lake Erie made him one of America's most famous naval officers.
The Luck of PerryThe term "Perry's Luck" was coined to describe Perry's repeated good fortune. Just when all seemed lost, events would turn in Perry's favor. From narrowly escaping the British fleet in a thick blanket of fog to raising a battle-ready squadron in Erie, Perry's Luck prevailed and would continue to follow him throughout
the War of 1812.
Perry's Final VoyagePerry received a Congressional medal and was promoted to the rank of captain in 1814. Six years later, while on a diplomatic mission to Venezuela, Perry contracted yellow fever. He died on August 23, 1819 — his 34th birthday. While he was originally buried in Trinidad, his remains were eventually returned to Newport, Rhode Island. Perry's Luck had finally run out.
Did you know?Perry was said to be deathly afraid of cows and would march hundreds of yards out of his way to avoid them.