Matthew Calbraith Perry

Credits / Citations

 

 b. Newport or South Kingstown, RI, April 10, 1794.

 d. New York City, NY, March 4, 1858.

 

U.S. naval officer; headed expedition in 1853-1854 that opened Japan to trade and diplomatic relations with West after more than two centuries of isolation.

 

Birthplace in question, boyhood home still stands at #31 Walnut Street, Newport. 

 

Confusion concerning final burial location.  Some place body in the Slidell family vault (married Jane Slidell) in churchyard of St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowerie (NYC), others in the Belmont Circle at Island Cemetery.  On south wall of Trinity Church is a memorial to Matthew.  Baptized there in 1795. 

 

His daughter Caroline married August Belmont, the senior.  A statue to Perry’s memory was erected in 1868 in Touro Park by Mr. and Mrs. Belmont. 

 

In commemoration of Perry’s accomplishment with relations between Japan and United States, the Black Ships Festival is held every summer in Newport. 

 

Younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, he began naval career in his mid-teens.  He headed an incredible number of missions spanning the globe for U.S. government. 

 

One of the most important missions of his career was the opening of Japan.  Japan, at the time, was under self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world. U.S. r Navy, citing a need in that part of the world for a safe haven for whaling vessels and coal for use in steamships, made a valid case to "open up" Japan. 

 

In March of 1852, received command for Japanese expedition.  After preparing at Okinawa, the Perry squadron arrived at what is now known as Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853.  Japanese were quite taken aback as this was the first time they had seen these so-called "Black Ships."  The American ships had no sails and were dispersing thick black smoke into the air. 

 

Perry promised sufficient time for the Japanese to consider the proposal and planned to return the next spring for their answer.  In November, Perry learned the Russians and French were planning their own treaties with Japan.  Believing this might jeopardize American opportunities, he planned to sail for Japan early. 

 

In February of 1854, Perry returned to Tokyo Bay and anchored off Yokohama.  On March 8, commissioners from the Emperor arrived to meet with Perry.  After 23 days of intense negotiations, a treaty was signed.  It contained provisions for the harbors of Shimoda and Hakodate to be opened for supplies and coal; shipwrecked sailors to be assisted and returned; and the free movement of American citizens within treaty ports. 

 

The Treaty of Kanagawa was ratified by the Senate on July 15, and signed by President Franklin Pierce on August 7, 1854.  First treaty of peace, amity, and commerce between the United States and Japan. 

 

During his career, Perry successfully advocated for steam warships in the Navy, developed a naval apprentice system, organized the first Naval Engineer Corps , and established the first course of instruction at the Naval Academy.  

 

 Bibliography

 "Funeral Procession," Newport Mercury, 25 November 1826. 

 

"Ship News," Newport Mercury, 25 November 1826. 

 

"Arrival of the Lexington," Newport Mercury, 2 December 1826. 

 

"Funeral Solemnities," Newport Mercury, 2 December 1826. 

 

"Funeral Solemnities," Newport Mercury, 9 December 1826. 

 

"Perry’s Monument," Newport Mercury, 20 May 1843. 

 

"Death of Com. M.C. Perry," Newport Mercury, 6 March 1858. 

 

"Commodore Perry’s Widow," Newport Mercury, 21 June 1879. 

 

Fleming, Peyton. "Niagara’s Voyage to Rhode Island Renews Historic Ties," Providence Journal, 17 July 1992. 

 

Barrows, Edward. The Great Commodore. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1935. 

 

Beach, Edward L. The United States Navy: 200 Years.  New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1986. 121-124. 

 

Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island. Providence: National Biographical Publishing, 1881. 72,73 (Perry, Commodore Oliver Hazard, U. S. N.); 254-256 (Perry, Commodore Matthew Calbraith U. S. N.).

 

A Brief Summary of the Perry Expedition to Japan 1853. Washington, DC: Department of Navy, 185Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island. Providence: National Biographical Publishing, 1881. 72,73 (Perry, Commodore Oliver Hazard, U. S. N.); 254-256 (Perry, Commodore Matthew Calbraith U. S. N.). 3.

 

Copes, Jan M. "The Perry Family: A Newport Naval Dynasty of the Early Republic," Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport: Newport Historical Society. vol. 66 part 2 no. 227 (Fall 1994): 49-77. 

 

Dillon, Richard. We Have Met the Enemy. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1978. 

 

Downing, Antoinette F. and Vincent J. Scully, Jr. The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island 1640-1915. 2nd ed. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1967. 6,486,499,513. 

 

Dutton, Charles J. Oliver Hazard Perry. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1935. 

 

Field, Edward. ed.  State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History.  Boston & Syracuse: Mason Publishing Co., 1902. 1:618-623. 

 

Griffis, William Elliot.  Matthew Calbraith Perry - A Typical American Naval Officer.  Boston: Cupples and Hurd, 1887. 390-394. 

 

Inauguration of the Perry Statue, September 10, 1885, with the Addresses of William P. Sheffield, and the remarks in receiving the statue by Governor Wetmore and Mayor Franklin.  Newport: John P. Sanborn, 1885. 

 

Items of Interest Concerning Oliver Hazard Perry in Newport and Newport in the War of 1812.  Newport: Newport Historical Society, 1913. 

 

Kane, Joseph Nathan. Famous First Facts. 4th ed. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1981. 695. 

 

"Log of the Lawrence," Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport: Newport Historical Society. no. 44 (April 1923): 23-34. 

 

Mason, George C.  Newport Illustrated in a Series of Pen & Pencil Sketches.  Newport: C.E. Hammett, Jr. Publisher [1871]. 28-30. 

 

Mason, George Champlin.  Reminiscences of Newport.  Newport: Charles E. Hammett, Jr., 1884. 31,32,302-306,375-380. 

 

Mills, James Cooke.  Oliver Hazard Perry and Battle of Lake Erie.  Detroit: John Phelps Publisher, 1913. 

 

Morrison, Samuel Eliot. "Old Bruin" Commodore Matthew C. Perry 1794-1858. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967. 

 

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 4 New York: James T. White & Company, 1895, 42,43 (Perry, Matthew Calbraith); 288,289 (Perry, Oliver Hazard).

 

Natkiel, Richard and Anthony Preston. Weidenfeld Atlas of Maritime History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986. 97. 

 

Paullin, Charles O.  "Perry, Matthew Calbraith" in Dictionary of American Biography. vol. 14 New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, 486-489.

 

Paullin, Charles O.  "Perry, Oliver Hazard" in Dictionary of American Biography. vol. 14 New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, 490-492.

 

Perry, Calbraith Bourn. The Perrys of Rhode Island and Tales of Silver Creek; The Bosworth-Bourn-Perry Homestead. New York: Tobias A. Wright, 1913. 

 

Pineau, Roger. ed.  The Japan Expedition 1852-1854: The Personal Journal of Commodore Matthew C. Perry.  Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1968. 

 

Powell, Mary E. "Presidential Visits to Newport," Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport: Newport Historical Society. no. 45 (July 1923): 19,20. 

 

Sanborn, Alvah H. "Perry Centennial Observance in Newport," Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport: Newport Historical Society. no. 9 (Oct 1913): 5-10. 

 

Walworth, Arthur. Blackships off Japan. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946.  

 

 

Credits:

Researcher/Writer: Brian Stinson

Project Editors: Lynda Bronaugh, Jennifer K. Caswell, Christian-Albrecht Gollub, Brian Stinson

Funded by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

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