Oliver Hazard Perry in the Temple of Fame


Oliver Hazard Perry went to sea at 13 to fight pirates in the Caribbean. The American Revolution was over, but the country was desperately poor and Britain and France were strangling American trade. In June 1812, President Madison declared war against Britain to be fought on the ocean and the Lakes, which Britain dismissed as a joke because America lacked the navy to do it. Those were fighting words. In 1813 Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, 28, won a fierce battle against the controlling British on Lake Erie, the first American victory to overtake a whole fleet and proof that the enemy was not invincible. His stunning win, against all odds and miserable conditions, from lack of gear to chronic dysentery, resonated in the depressed country, and Perry, and his sterling courageous and creative performance in the face of enormous difficulty, resonated throughout American towns and cities with about seven and a half million struggling people. Wherever Perry traveled, Americans clamored to see the Hero of the Lakes, as engravers reproduced his image in magazines a fast as they could. Glamorous and charismatic, he was the subject of poems, songs, and marches, and when he died unexpectedly six years after the battle, he became a folk hero. Almost forgotten today, Perry, the cherished celebrity of the colorful Early American Republic, was mourned by the whole country.


Stephanie Ocko
Paperback | 140 pages
215.9 x 215.9 x 10.16mm | 294.83g
Publication date
18 Dec 2012
Riverbank Press
Illustrations note
Illustrations, color