Start Listening

Oliver Hazard Perry: The Life and Legacy of the Commodore Who Became the War of 1812’s Most Famous Naval Officer

1 hour


"We have met the enemy and they are ours.” – Oliver Hazard Perry

Americans had few things to celebrate during the War of 1812, and fighting on the frontier against the British and their native allies didn’t go any better than the conflict did in other theaters, but one of the only major victories the Americans won came at the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813. That action made Oliver Hazard Perry, a veteran of the Barbary Wars and commander of the USS Lawrence, a legend whose name has endured for over 200 years. Perry was so instrumental in the victory that British historian C.S. Forester noted “it was as fortunate for the Americans that the Lawrence still possessed a boat that would float, as it was that Perry was not hit." As one of the biggest naval battles of the war, the results meant that America maintained control of Lake Erie, an important location from which they could recover Detroit and be better positioned to confront the British and Shawnee leader Tecumseh’s confederacy. For his part, Perry would forever be remembered as the “Hero of Lake Erie,” even as he and compatriot Captain Jesse Elliot would feud over their respective actions during the battle for the rest of Perry’s life.

Perry received a Congressional Gold Medal and the Thanks of Congress for compelling the surrender of the entire British squadron, the first time that had ever happened, but he wouldn’t have much time to enjoy it. He fought in the Second Barbary War in 1815 but died of yellow fever while on a mission in Venezuela in 1819. Despite being just 34 at the time of his death, he was one of the most famous military heroes in the young nation’s history, and he has been commemorated with countless monuments across America ever since.

Read on the Scribd mobile app

Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere.