United States Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the son of USN Captain Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander, a direct descendant of William Wallace. He was an older brother to Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry who compelled the opening of Japan.
He served in the War of 1812 against Britain. Perry supervised the building of a fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, at the age of 27. He earned the title "Hero of Lake Erie" for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal and the Thanks of Congress. His leadership materially aided the successful outcomes of all nine Lake Erie military campaign victories, and the fleet victory was a turning point in the battle for the west in the War of 1812.
Perry became embroiled in a long standing and festering controversy with the Commander of the USS Niagara, Captain Jesse Elliott, over their conduct in the battle, and both were the subject of official charges that were lodged. In 1815, he successfully commanded the Java in the Mediterranean during the Second Barbary War. So seminal was his career that he was lionized in the press, has been heavily memorialized, and many places and ships have been named in his honor.