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Matthew C. Perry
Matthew C. Perry
Matthew Calbraith Perry
Ä March 4, 1858 (agedÄ63)
Matthew C. Perry c. 1856-58, in a photograph by Mathew Brady.
PlaceÄof death
New York City
United States of America
United States Navy
YearsÄof service
Commands held
USS Shark
Africa Squadron
USS Fulton
New York Navy Yard
USS Mississippi
Mosquito Fleet
Little Belt Affair
War of 1812
USS President vs HMS Belvidere
Battle of Lake Erie
Second Barbary War
Suppression of the Slave Trade
Battle of Little Bereby
Opening of Japan
Mexican-American War
Battle of Frontiera
First Battle of Tabasco
Tampico Expedition
Siege of Veracruz
First Battle of Tuxpan
Second Battle of Tuxpan
Third Battle of Tuxpan
Second Battle of Tabasco
Matthew Calbraith[1] Perry (April 10, 1794 Ä March 4, 1858) was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy who
compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
Matthew C. Perry
Early life and naval career
Matthew Perry was the son of Navy Captain, Christopher R. Perry and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry.
Matthew Perry received a midshipman's commission in the Navy in 1809, and was initially assigned to the USS
Revenge, under the command of his elder brother. Under his brother's command, Matthew was a combatant in The
Battle of Lake Erie aboard the Flagship Lawrence and the replacement flagship, Niagara.
Matthew's early career saw him assigned to several ships, including the USS President, which had been in a
victorious engagement over a British vessel, HMS Little Belt, shortly before the War of 1812 was officially declared.
Aboard the USS President he served as aide to Commodore John Rodgers. He transferred to the USS United States,
and saw little fighting in the war after that, since the ship was trapped in port at New London, Connecticut.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the conflict, he served on various vessels in the
Mediterranean. Perry served under Commodore William Bainbridge during the Second Barbary War. He then served
in African waters aboard USS Cyane during its patrol off Liberia from 1819-1820. After that cruise, Perry was 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 Imperial Russian Navy, which he declined.
Command assignments, 1820s-1840s
Opening of Key West
Perry commanded the USS Shark, a schooner with 12 guns, from
1821-1825. In 1763, when Britain possessed Florida, the Spanish
contended that the Florida Keys were part of Cuba and North Havana.
Certain elements within the United States felt that Key West (which
was then named Cayo Hueso, meaning "Bone Key") could potentially
be the "Gibraltar of the West" because it guarded the northern edge of
the 90 mile (145Äkm) wide Straits of Florida -- the deep water route
between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1815 the Spanish governor in Havana deeded the island of Key
West to Juan Pablo Salas of Saint Augustine. After Florida was
transferred to the United States, Salas sold Key West to U.S.
businessman John W. Simonton for $2,000 in 1821. Simonton lobbied
An exact replica of the Gokoku-ji Bell which
Commodore (Cdre.) Perry brought back from
Japan as a gift from the Ryukyuan Government.
Currently stationed at the entrance of Bancroft
Hall at the United States Naval Academy in
Annapolis, MD. The original bell was returned to
Japan in 1987.
the U.S. Government to establish a naval base on Key West, both to
take advantage of its strategic location and to bring law and order to
the area.
On March 25, 1822, Perry sailed the Shark to Key West and planted
the U.S. flag, physically claiming the Keys as United States property.
Perry renamed Cayo Hueso "Thompson's Island" for the Secretary of
the Navy Smith Thompson and the harbor "Port Rodgers" for the
president of the Board of Navy Commissioners. Neither name stuck.
From 1826-1827 Perry acted as fleet captain for Commodore Rodgers.
Perry returned to Charleston, South Carolina for shore duty in 1828, and in 1830 took command of a sloop-of-war,
the USS Concord. He spent the years 1833-1837 as second officer of the New York Navy Yard (later the Brooklyn
Navy Yard), gaining promotion to captain at the end of this tour.
Matthew C. Perry
Father of the Steam Navy
Perry had a considerable interest in naval education, supporting an apprentice system to train new seamen, and
helped establish the curriculum for the United States Naval Academy. He was a vocal proponent of modernizing the
Navy. Once promoted to captain, he oversaw construction of the Navy's second steam frigate the USS Fulton, which
he commanded after its completion. He was called "The Father of the Steam Navy",[2] and he organized America's
first corps of naval engineers, and conducted the first U.S. naval gunnery school while commanding Fulton in
1839-1841 off Sandy Hook on the coast of New Jersey.
Promotion to Commodore
Perry received the title of Commodore in June 1840, when the
Secretary of the Navy appointed him commandant of New York Navy
Yard.[3] The United States Navy did not have ranks higher than captain
until 1862, so the title of commodore carried considerable
importance. Officially, an officer would revert to his permanent rank
after the squadron command assignment had ended, although in
practice officers who received the title of commodore retained the title
for life, and Perry was no exception.
Commodore Matthew C PerryUS Postage, 1953
During his tenure in Brooklyn, he lived in Quarters B at Admiral's
Row, a building which still stands today, but is threatened with
demolition by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. In
1843, Perry 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.
Mexican-American War
In 1845, Commodore David Connor's length of service in command of the Home Squadron had come to an end.
However, the coming of the Mexican-American War persuaded the authorities not to change commanders in the face
of the war. Perry, who would eventually succeed Connor, was made second-in-command and captained the USS
Mississippi. Perry captured the Mexican city of Frontera, demonstrated against Tabasco and took part in the Tampico
Expedition. He had to return to Norfolk, Virginia to make repairs and was still there when the amphibious landings
at Veracruz took place. His return to the U.S. gave his superiors the chance to finally give him orders to succeed
Commodore Connor in command of the Home Squadron. Perry returned to the fleet during the siege of Veracruz and
his ship supported the siege from the sea. After the fall of Veracruz Winfield Scott moved inland and Perry moved
against the remaining Mexican port cities. Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet and captured Tuxpan in April, 1847.
In July 1847 he attacked Tabasco personally, leading a 1,173-man landing force ashore and attacking the city from
Matthew C. Perry
The Perry Expedition: Opening of Japan, 1852-1854
In advance of his voyage to the Far East, Commodore Perry read
widely amongst available books about Tokugawa Japan. His research
even included consultation with the increasingly well-known
Japanologist Philipp Franz von Siebold, who had lived on the Dutch
island of Dejima for eight years before retiring to Leiden in the
Perry's expedition to Japan was preceded by several naval expeditions
by American ships:
Japanese woodblock print of Perry (center) and
other high-ranking American seamen
Å From 1797 to 1809, several American ships traded in Nagasaki
under the Dutch flag, upon the request of the Dutch, who were not able to send their own ships because of their
conflict against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Japan limited foreign trade to the Dutch and Chinese at that
time, under the policy of sakoku.
Å In 1837, an American businessman in Canton named Charles W. King saw an opportunity to open trade by trying
to return to Japan three Japanese sailors (among them, Otokichi) who had been shipwrecked a few years before on
the coast of Washington. He went to Uraga Channel with Morrison, an unarmed American merchant ship. The
ship was attacked several times, and sailed back without completing its mission.
Å In 1846, Commander James Biddle, sent by the United States Government to open trade, anchored in Tokyo Bay
with two ships, including one warship armed with 72 cannons, but his requests for a trade agreement remained
Å In 1849, Captain James Glynn sailed to Nagasaki, leading at last to the first successful negotiation by an
American with "Closed Country" Japan. James Glynn recommended to the United States Congress that
negotiations to open Japan be backed up by a demonstration of force, thus paving the way for Perry's
First visit, 1852-1853
In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in
command of the East India Squadron in search of a Japanese trade
treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi,
Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo
(modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture
were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with
Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese
hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa
Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was
limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese
port open to foreigners at that time (see Sakoku).
Odaiba battery at the entrance of Tokyo, built in
1853-54 to prevent an American intrusion
Matthew C. Perry
One of the cannons of Odaiba, now at the
Yasukuni Shrine. 80-pound bronze, bore:
250mm, length: 3830mm.
Threat of force and negotiation
As he arrived, Perry ordered his ships to steam past Japanese lines
towards the capital of Edo, and position their guns towards the town of
Uraga.[9] Perry refused to abide to demands to leave.[9] He then
demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard
Fillmore, and threatened to use force if the Japanese boats around the
American squadron did not disperse.[9]
Japanese coastal wooden cannon built by the
Daimyos at the Bakufu's order for Commodore
Perry's arrival. 1853-54.
Perry attempted to intimidate the Japanese by presenting them a white
flag and a letter which told them that in case they chose to combat, the
Americans would necessarily vanquish them.[10] [11] Perry's ships were
equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great
destruction with every shell.[12] [13] The term "Black Ships", in Japan,
would later come to symbolize a threat imposed by Western
After the Japanese agreed to receive the letter from the American President, Perry landed at Kurihama (in
modern-day Yokosuka) on July 14, 1853[15] presented the letter to delegates present, and left for the Chinese coast,
promising to return for a reply.[16]
Fortifications were built in Tokyo Bay at Odaiba in order to protect Edo from possible American naval incursion.
Second visit, 1854
Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that
the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the
demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa
on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement
had been made with imperial representatives.[17] The agreement was
made with the Shogun, the de facto ruler of Japan.
Commodore Perry's fleet for his second visit to
Japan in 1854
Matthew C. Perry
On his way to Japan, Perry anchored off Keelung in Formosa (modern
day Taiwan), for ten days. Perry and crew members landed on Formosa
and investigated the potential of mining the coal deposits in that area.
Japanese 1854 print relating Perry's visit.
He emphasized in his reports that Formosa provided a convenient
mid-way trade location. Formosa was also very defensible. It could
serve as a base for exploration as Cuba had done for the Spanish in the
Americas. Occupying Formosa could help the US to counter European
monopolization of the major trade routes. President Franklin Pierce
declined the suggestion, remarking such a remote possession would be
an unnecessary drain of resources and that he would be unlikely to
receive the consent of Congress.
Return to the United States, 1855
When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a
reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this
money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled
Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and
Japan. He was also advanced to the grade of rear-admiral on the retired list
(when his health began to fail) as a reward for his services in the Far East.[18]
Perry was known to have suffered severe arthritis that left him in frequent pain,
that on occasion precluded him from his duties.[19]
Bust of Matthew Perry in Shimoda,
Last years
Perry spent his last years preparing for publication his account of the
Japan expedition, announcing its completion on December 28, 1857.
Two days later he was detached from his last post, an assignment to the
Naval Efficiency Board. He died awaiting further orders on March 4,
1858 in New York City, of rheumatism that had spread to the heart,
compounded by complications of gout.[20]
A map of coal mining on Formosa Island in the
Narrative of the Commodore Matthew Calbraith
Perry's Expedition to Japan.
Initially interred in a vault on the grounds of St. Mark's Church
in-the-Bowery, in New York City, 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.
Matthew C. Perry
A diplomatic note
Among other mementos, Perry presented Queen Victoria with a breeding pair of Japanese Chin dogs, previously
owned only by Japanese nobility.
Perry's flag and legacy
A replica of Perry's US flag is on display on board the USS Missouri
(BB-63) memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It is attached to the
bulkhead just inboard of the Japanese surrender signing site on the port
side of the ship. The original flag was brought from the U.S. Naval
Academy Museum to Japan for the Japan surrender ceremony and was
displayed on that occasion at the request of Douglas MacArthur, who
was himself a blood-relative of Perry. Some photographs of the signing
ceremony show that this flag was actually displayed
backwardÅreverse side showing (stars in the upper right corner). The
cloth of the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the
Museum directed that a protective backing be sewn on it, leaving its
"wrong side" visible; and this was how Perry's 31-star flag was
presented on this unique occasion.[21] Today, the flag is preserved and
on display at the Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland.
Commodore Perry's flag (upper left corner) was
flown from Annapolis to Tokyo for display at the
surrender ceremonies which officially ended
World War II
The pattern for the Union canton on this flag is different from the
standard 31-star flag then in use. Perry's flag had columns of five stars
save the last column which had six stars. Perry's US flag was unique
when it was first flown in Tokyo Bay in 1853-1854. A replica of this
historic flag can be seen today on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This
replica is also placed in the same location on the bulkhead of the veranda deck where it had been initially mounted
on the morning of September 2, 1945[21] by Chief Carpenter Fred Miletich.[22]
Matthew C. Perry
Å In his birthplace, Newport, Rhode Island, there is a memorial plaque in
Trinity Church, Newport, and a statue of Perry in Touro Park designed by
John Quincy Adams Ward erected in 1869 and dedicated by his daughter.
He was buried in Newport's Island Cemetery, near his parents and brother.
There are also exhibits and research collections concerning his life at the
Naval War College Museum and at the Newport Historical Society.
Å There is a Perry Park in Kurihama, Japan which has a monolith monument
(dedicated JulyÄ14, 1901) to the landing of Perry's forces.[23] Within the
park there is a small museum dedicated to the events of 1854. Admission
is free, and the museum is open from 10Äa.m. to 4Äp.m., seven days a week.
Å Matthew C. Perry Elementary and High School can be found on Marine
Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan.
Å The U.S. Navy's Perry-class frigates (purchased in the 1970s and 1980s)
were named after Perry's brother, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
Å On December 2, 2008, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced
that the ninth ship of the Lewis and Clark class of dry-cargo-ammunition
vessels would be named USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE-9) for Commodore
Perry's Statue in Touro Park
Fictional depictions
Å The story of the opening of Japan was the basis of Stephen
Sondheim & John Weidman's Pacific Overtures.
Å Actor Richard Boone played Commodore Perry in the highly
fictionalized 1981 film The Bushido Blade.
Å The coming of Commodore Perry's ships was indirectly part of a
plot in one of the arcs of the anime series Rurouni Kenshin, and in
the first episode of Hikaru no Go. Another anime series in which
Perry briefly appears is Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan. The manga
Fruits Basket also refers to the event while the main character is
studying. The anime Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei also depicts
Commodore Perry as a "troubled foreigner who isn't satisfied by
opening ports and needs to open everything".
Japanese woodblock print of Commodore Perry,
c. 1854. The caption reads "North American" (top
line, written from right to left in Chinese
character) and "Perry's portrait" (first line, written
from top to bottom).
Å The anime series, Samurai Champloo, in an episode entitled
"Baseball Blues", depicts a fictional character named 'Admiral Joy
Cartwright' who challenges the Japanese locals to a baseball
(YakyÇ) game in order to establish trade relations. The character is
named after Alexander Joy Cartwright ("the father of baseball") and
obviously modeled after Commodore Perry.
Å Perry's visit is also mentioned in the 1965 Hideo Gosha film Sword
of the Beast.
Å The faster-than-light spaceship in the novel Homeward Bound is
named Commodore Perry.
Å The manga Rozen Maiden plays homage to Perry through the eyes of the character Suiseiseki.
Matthew C. Perry
Å Popotan has several references to Perry throughout the series.
Å The 2010 NHK Taiga drama RyÄmaden, which deals with the Bakumatsu period, portrayed Perry as a menacing,
steadfast military commander who was able to subjugate the then-seemingly invincible Bakufu through blunt
negotiation. He was played by Timothy Harris.
[1] Perry's middle name is often misspelled as Galbraith instead of Calbraith
[2] Sewall, John S. (1905). The Logbook of the Captain's Clerk: Adventures in the China Seas, p. xxxvi.
[3] Griffis, William Elliot. (1887). Matthew Calbraith Perry: A Typical American Naval Officer, pp. 154 (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=qcdEAAAAIAAJ& pg=PA443& dq=matthew+ c+ perry& lr=#PPA154,M1)-155.
[4] "Commodore" (http:/ / www. history. navy. mil/ trivia/ triv4-5k. htm). United States Navy. . Retrieved 2009-12-14.
[5] Sewell, p. xxxvi.
[6] Sewall, p. xxxviii.
[7] Sewell, pp. xxxiv-xxxv, xlix, lvi.
[8] English Wikipedia on Preble Logbook
[9] The Perry mission to Japan, 1853 - 1854 by William Gerald Beasley, Aaron Haight Palmer, Henry F. Graff, Yashi ShÉzan, Ernest Mason
Satow, Shuziro Watanabe p.153ff (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=j399Lfj6baYC& pg=PA153)
[10] "Among the items presented to the Japanese were a white flag and a letter from Perry. The letter attempted to intimidate Japanese officials
by explaining that in the event the Japanese elected war rather than negotiation, they could use the white flag to sue for peace, since victory
would naturally belong to the Americans" Matthew Calbraith Perry: antebellum sailor and diplomat by John H. Schroeder p.286 Note 44
(http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=erBi_TmWanoC& pg=PA286)
[11] The economic aspects of the history of the civilization of Japan YosaburÉ Takekoshi p.285-86 (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=mvfMKV1b1fwC& pg=PA285)
[12] Arms and men: a study in American military history Walter Millis p.88 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=PcGpkzmjFbgC& pg=PA88)
[13] Black Ships Off Japan - The Story of Commodore Perry's Expedition Arthur Walworth p.21 (http:/ / books. google. com/
books?id=bFyV2BZMCRwC& pg=PA21)
[14] Sewall, pp. 167-183.
[15] "Perry Ceremony Today; Japanese and U. S. Officials to Mark 100th Anniversary." (http:/ / select. nytimes. com/ mem/ archive/
pdf?res=F00A16FD3C59177B93C6A8178CD85F478585F9) New York Times. July 14, 1953,
[16] Sewall, pp. 183-195.
[17] Sewall, pp. 243-264.
[18] Sewall, p. lxxxvii.
[19] "Commodore Perry's Expedition to Japan" (http:/ / www. grifworld. com/ perryhome. html). Ben Griffiths 2005. . Retrieved September 12,
[20] Morison, Samuel Eliot. (1967). 'Old Bruin' Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry p. 431.
[21] Tsustsumi, Cheryl Lee. "Hawaii's Back Yard: Mighty Mo memorial re-creates a powerful history," (http:/ / starbulletin. com/ 2007/ 08/ 26/
travel/ tsutsumi. html) Star-Bulletin (Honolulu). August 26, 2007.
[22] Broom, Jack. "Memories on Board Battleship," (http:/ / community. seattletimes. nwsource. com/ archive/ ?date=19980521&
slug=2751979) Seattle Times. May 21, 1998.
[23] Sewall, pp. 197Ä198.
Å Cullen, Louis M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds. (
client=firefox-a&source=gbs_navlinks_s) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82115-X (cloth)
ISBN 0-521-529918-2 (paper)
Å Griffis, William Elliot. (1887). Matthew Calbraith Perry: A Typical American Naval Officer. (http://books.
Boston: Cupples and Hurd.
Å Hawks, Francis. (1856). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan
Performed in the Years 1852, 1853 and 1854 under the Command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States
Navy. (
Matthew C. Perry
source=gbs_navlinks_s) Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson by order of Congress, 1856; originally published in
Senate Executive Documents, No. 34 of 33rd Congress, 2nd Session. [reprinted by London:Trafalgar Square,
2005. ISBN 1-84588-026-9 (paper)]
Å Sewall, John S. (1905). The Logbook of the Captain's Clerk: Adventures in the China Seas. (http://books.'s+Clerk:+Adventures+in+the+
China+Seas&client=firefox-a&source=gbs_navlinks_s) Bangor, Maine: Chas H. Glass & Co. [reprint by
Chicago: R.R. Donnelly & Sons, 1995] ISBN 0-548-20912-X
Further reading
Å Perry, Matthew Calbraith. (1856). Narrative of the expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and
Japan, 1856. ( New York : D. Appleton and Company. digitized
by University of Hong Kong Libraries, Digital Initiatives, ( "China Through
Western Eyes." (
External links
Å A short timeline of Perry's life (
Å Perry -- 90% name recognition among primary school students in Japan (
national/20080628TDY01306.htm), 2008. (Japanese)
Å Perry Visits Japan: A Visual History (
Å Matthew Calbraith Perry memorial at ( Find
a Grave.
Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
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JagexPsuxzs, Jamesontai, Jamestown, Jason Roberts, Jedravent, Jeremy Bentham, Jimius, Jinian, Johan1298, Jondel, Jrt989, JuneGloom07, Jusdafax, KCToker, Kansan, Keith Edkins,
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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
File:Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors:
Connormah, Florival fr, MissMJ
File:Flag of the United States.svg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: Dbenbenn, Zscout370,
Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion.
Image:United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain
ÄContributors: US Army Institute Of Heraldry
Image:The Gokoku-ji Bell.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: GNU Free Documentation License ÄContributors: Original uploader
was BrianDBell at en.wikipedia
File:Commodore Matthew C Perry-5c.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: US Post
File:Gasshukoku suishi teitoku kÅjÅgaki (Oral statement by the American Navy admiral).png ÄSource:ÉjÉgaki_(Oral_statement_by_the_American_Navy_admiral).png ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: Adam
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File:Japanese coastal wooden cannon 1853 1854.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Creative Commons
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Image:Japanese 1854 print Commodore Perry.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors:
User:Gorgo, User:Kintetsubuffalo
Image:PerryBustShimoda.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: Amcaja, Araisyohei, Fg2, Kilom691, Man
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Image:Formosa-map coal.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: Francis L. Hawks
Image:Perry flag 1945.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: unknown photographer -- Official US Navy
Photograph, now in the collections of the US National Archives
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Image:Matthewperry.jpg ÄSource: ÄLicense: Public Domain ÄContributors: Calliopejen, Daderot, Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy),
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