Matthew Calbraith Perry

Sailor

Born: 10 April 1794
Died: 3 April 1858
Birthplace: Rocky Brook, Rhode Island
Best known as: Commodore Perry, who began Western trade with Japan, 1853
Matthew Calbraith Perry is remembered as the man who opened Japan to American trade and influence in the 19th century. The younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, Matthew Perry received his first naval command in 1821. From 1833-43 he commanded the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he championed steam power for warships. After a few years on the seas, including action during the Mexican-American war, Perry was asked to undergo a voyage to isolationist Japan to initiate trade and diplomatic relations. Using diplomacy backed up by a persuasive show of force, Perry successfully negotiated treaties in 1853 and 1854 that gave the U.S. two coal ports in Japan and guaranteed the humane treatment of shipwrecked U.S. sailors. He returned to the U.S. and served as an administrator while supervising the writing of his Narrative, the story of his mission, published in 1856.

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