Perry, Matthew Calbraith

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

Perry, Matthew Calbraith,

1794–1858, American naval officer, b. South Kingstown, R.I.; brother of Oliver Hazard PerryPerry, Oliver Hazard,
1785–1819, American naval officer, b. South Kingstown, R.I.; brother of Matthew Calbraith Perry. Appointed a midshipman in 1799, he served in the Tripolitan War, was promoted to lieutenant (1807), and from 1807 to 1809 was engaged in building gunboats.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Appointed a midshipman in 1809, he first served under his brother on the Revenge and then was aide to Commodore John RodgersRodgers, John,
1773–1838, American naval officer, b. Harford co., Md. He had seen years of merchant service before he became (1798) a lieutenant in the new U.S. navy. He served in the Tripolitan War, securing senior command in 1805.
..... Click the link for more information.
 on the President, which defeated the British ship Little Belt before the War of 1812 had been formally declared. Perry saw little action in that war because he was assigned to the United States, which the British bottled up at New London. He received his first command in 1821.

From 1833 to 1843 Perry was assigned to the New York (later Brooklyn) navy yard, where he pioneered in the application of steam power to warships, commanding (1837) the Fulton, first steam vessel in the U.S. navy, and encouraged the broadening of naval education. Promoted to captain in 1837, Perry received the title of commodore in 1841 and in the same year became commandant of the New York navy yard. In 1843–44 he commanded the African squadron, which was engaged in suppressing the slave trade. In the Mexican WarMexican War,
1846–48, armed conflict between the United States and Mexico. Causes

While the immediate cause of the war was the U.S. annexation of Texas (Dec., 1845), other factors had disturbed peaceful relations between the two republics.
..... Click the link for more information.
, as commander of the Gulf Fleet, he supported Gen. Winfield ScottScott, Winfield,
1786–1866, American general, b. near Petersburg, Va. Military Career

He briefly attended the College of William and Mary, studied law at Petersburg, and joined the military.
..... Click the link for more information.
 in taking Veracruz.

In Mar., 1852, Perry was ordered to command the East India squadron and charged with the delicate task of penetrating isolationist Japan. On July 8, 1853, he anchored his four ships, including the powerful steam frigates Mississippi and Susquehanna, in lower Tokyo (then Yedo) Bay. The Japanese ordered him to go to Nagasaki, the only port open to foreigners, where the Dutch operated a limited trading concession, but Perry firmly declined. On July 14 he presented his papers, including a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Japanese emperor, requesting protection for shipwrecked American seamen, the right to buy coal, and the opening of one or more ports to trade.

The expedition then retired to the China coast, but returned, with an increased fleet, in Feb., 1854. Perry's show of pomp (at which he was expert) and power obviously impressed the insecure Tokugawa shogunate, and on Mar. 31, 1854, near Yokohama a treaty was concluded that acceded to American requests, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to U.S. trade. For his successful expedition Perry was awarded $20,000 by Congress, which also paid for publication of the official Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan (3 vol., 1856), compiled under Perry's supervision.


See E. M. Barrows, The Great Commodore (1935); A. Walworth, Black Ships off Japan (1946, repr. 1966); Bluejackets with Perry in Japan (ed. by H. F. Graff, 1952); S. E. Morison, "Old Bruin" (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Perry, Matthew Calbraith


Born Apr. 10, 1794, in South Kingston, R.I.; died Mar. 4, 1858, in New York. US naval figure, commodore (1841).

Perry fought in the USA’s wars with Great Britain from 1812 to 1814 and with Mexico from 1846 to 1848. In 1852 he headed a squadron that was sent to force the Japanese government, which had been pursuing an isolationist policy, to establish diplomatic and trade relations with the USA. He compelled the Japanese government, under threat of military action, to sign a treaty in 1854 that opened the ports of Hakodate and Shimoda to American vessels and set the stage for the one-sided treaties that the USA and the European powers later concluded with Japan. Perry was the author of extensive plans for American expansion in the Far East. He made a number of attempts to seize the Bonin and Ryukyu islands and Taiwan.


Petrov, D. V. Kolonial’naia ekspansiia SShA v Iaponii v ser. XIX v. Moscow, 1955.
Griffis, W. E. Matthew Calbraith Perry, a Typical American Naval Officer. Boston, 1887.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Perry, Matthew Calbraith

(1794–1858) naval officer; born in South Kingston, R.I. (younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry). He entered the navy in 1809 and served in the War of 1812. He was the second officer of the New York navy yard (1833–37), became a captain in 1837, and commanded the first American steam warship, the USS Fulton (aboard which he conducted the navy's first gunnery school). He commanded the Africa Squadron (1843–46) and the Home Squadron during the last phase of the Mexican War (1847–48). Following four years of shore duty in New York, he sailed for Japan aboard the USS Mississippi in 1852. He arrived off Edo (now Tokyo) in 1853 and demanded that Japan accept diplomatic relations and trade with the U.S.A. He returned to Japan in 1854 and accepted a treaty signed at Yokohama. His report of the expeditions were published as Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
Mentioned in ?