|Oliver Hazard Perry by Gilbert Stuart, 1818|
Today marks the anniversary of both the birth and death of the famed American Naval Commodore, Oliver Hazard Perry. Controversial and celebrated in equal measure, he is memorialised today in the form of monuments, buildings and numerous place names.
Perry served to great acclaim in the War of 1812, among others, and was highly decorated for his exploits, even if he was not always the most politic of gentlemen.
In addition to his naval career, Perry was known for his efforts to combat piracy and in 1819 he was due to meet with Simon Bolivar to discuss measures again pirates in the Caribbean. To this end, he was on board the USS Nonsuch, returning from Venezuela and an expedition up the Orinoco River. Mosquitos were a persistent problem and during the long, hot summer, Perry contracted yellow fever as a result of the insects.
With the Commodore declining fast, the crew of the Nonsuch made desperate efforts to reach Trinidad and medical care but their efforts were destined to fail. As the ship approached the island Perry died on the day he reached the age of thirty four. Initially buried in Port of Spain, Trinidad, his remains were later reclaimed and moved to Newport, Rhode Island, near his childhood home.