Birthday: April 10, 1794
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Matthew Calbraith Perry
Born Country: United States
Born in: Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Famous as: Naval Officer
Spouse/Ex-: August Belmont, Jane Slidell Perry (m. 1816)
father: Christopher Raymond Perry
mother: Sarah Wallace Perry
siblings: Oliver Hazard Perry
children: Anna Rodgers Perry, Caroline Slidell Perry Belmont, Isabella Bolton Perry, Jane Hazard Perry, John Slidell Perry, Matthew Calbraith Perry, Oliver Hazard Perry, Sarah Perry, Susan Murgatroyde Perry, William Frederick Perry
Died on: March 4, 1858
place of death: New York City, United States
U.S. State: Rhode Island
Cause of Death: Cirrhosis
Matthew Calbraith Perry was an American naval officer who served as the commander of the East India Squadron from November 1852 to September 1854. He took part in several battles and was instrumental in Japan ending its isolationist policies by signing the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. A native of Rhode Island, Perry joined the US Navy as a midshipman on USS Revenge. During his over four-decade-long service, he took part in Little Belt Affair War, Second Barbary War, Suppression of the Slave Trade, and the Mexican–American War and gradually rose through the ranks to become a commodore. He visited Japan twice, in 1853 and 1854, and compelled the Japanese Empire to sign trade and diplomatic treaties with the west, which effectively ended its more than two-century-long isolation. Keen on providing education to naval officers, he helped in the creation of the curriculum at the United States Naval Academy. When steam engine ships were introduced, he realised the importance of modernizing the US Navy and has come to be regarded as the “Father of the Steam Navy” in US. Commodore Perry’s flag was taken from Annapolis to Tokyo to showcase at surrender ceremonies which officially concluded World War II.
Childhood & Early Life
Matthew Calbraith Perry was born on April 10, 1794, in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, to Sarah Wallace (née Alexander) and Navy Captain Christopher Raymond Perry. He grew up with four brothers and three sisters. Like Perry, all his brothers would die in service.
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The Japanese Expeditions
In March 1852, Perry received orders from the US President Millard Fillmore to force the Japanese government to set up diplomatic relations with America. Perry subsequently scrutinized the situation and decided that the only way to move Japan away from its traditional isolationist policy was to showcase a superior military force and reach out to the Japanese officials with a “resolute attitude”.
On July 8, 1853, he reached the fortified harbour of Uraga with two frigates and two sailing vessels. Proclaiming himself an admiral, he ignored the Japanese instruction to leave and demanded that the Japanese administration should send an appropriate official to receive the documents he was carrying. If they refused, he warned, he would deliver them by force.
The Japanese knew that they were inadequately equipped to deal with him, so they eventually agreed to receive the documents containing Fillmore’s request for a treaty.
He returned to Japan in February 1854 with nine ships and docked in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and negotiated the Treaty of Kanagawa on behalf of the US President.
The pact secured better treatment of shipwrecked seamen, allowed US ships to get fuel and supplies at two minor ports, received permission for a US consul to live at Shimoda, and cleared the way for further US trading privileges. From then on, he was regarded as an authority on the Far East.
Family & Personal Life
In 1816, Perry exchanged wedding vows with Jane Slidell. Together, they had seven daughters, Jane Slidell Perry (1817–1880), Sarah Perry (1818–1905), Jane Hazard Perry (1819–1881), Susan Murgatroyde Perry (1825–1896), Caroline Slidell Perry Belmont (1829–1892), Isabella Bolton Perry (1834–1912), and Anna Rodgers Perry (838–1839), and three sons, Matthew Calbraith Perry (1821–1873), Oliver Hazard Perry (1825–1870), and William Frederick Perry (1828–1884).
Later Years & Death
In the final years of his life, Perry worked on his account of the Japanese expeditions. He was still part of the navy.
Two days after his detachment from his last post, he passed away on March 4, 1858, in New York City, due to rheumatic fever that found its way to his heart, worsened by complications of gout and alcoholism. He was 63 years old at the time.
He was initially buried in the cemetery of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. On March 21, 1866, he was reinterred in the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.