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Matthew C. Perry was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
Perry, photographed after his return from Japan
Perry, age 40, by William Sidney Mount, 1834
Born in Rocky Brook, Rhode Island, he was the son of Captain Christopher R. Perry and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. Matthew Perry got a midshipman's commission in the Navy in 1809, and was initially assigned to Revenge, under the command of his elder brother.
Perry, Date and Artist Unknown
Commodore Perry's early career saw him assigned to several ships, including the President, where he was aide to Commodore John Rodgers, which was in a victorious engagement over a British vessel, HMS Little Belt, shortly before the War of 1812 was officially declared. During that war Perry was transferred to USS United States, and as a result saw little fighting in that war afterward, since the ship was trapped at New London, Connecticut. After that war he served on various vessels in the Mediterranean and Africa (notably aboard USS Cyane during its patrol off Liberia in 1819-1820), sent to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies. Later during this period, while in port in Russia, Perry was offered a commission in the Russian navy, which he declined.
Perry Seated, woodcut from Illustrated London News, May 7, 1853
Perry, Engraving, Gleason's Picturial, August 5, 1854
Perry, Woodcut Engraving, Harper's New Monthly, 1856
Perry, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1858
Perry, Lithograph, Artist and Date Unknown
Perry acquired the courtesy title of Commodore in 1841, and was made chief of the New York Navy Yard in the same year. In 1843 he took command of the African Squadron, whose duty was to interdict the slave trade under the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and continued in this endeavor through 1844.
Perry, from a print by Huddy and Duvall, 1839-1842
Perry died on March 4, 1858 in New York City, of liver cirrhosis due to alcoholism. His remains were moved to the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island on March 21, 1866, along with those of his daughter, Anna, who died in 1839.
Perry, Standing Portrait, from Graphic Scenes of the Japan Expedition 1856
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