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Matthew Calbraith Perry Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Matthew Calbraith Perry passes away in 1858.

Matthew Calbraith Perry was an American naval officer.

Perry was born April 10th, 1794. Born in Rhode Island, he is the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry.

Perry's early career involved events leading up to the War of 1812. Prior to the war, Perry served on several ships on Lake Erie. At the beginning of the war, Perry was the aide to Commodore John Rodgers who fired the shot starting the war of 1812.

After the war Perry served in a variety of areas around the world. One mission took him to Russia where he was offered a commission in the Russian Navy. He declined the offer.

In 1839, Perry took command of the USS Fulton, the second steam powered vessel in the American fleet. He helped to create the curriculum for the United States Naval Academy. He also was a very vocal advocate for modernizing the Navy. All this led to Perry receiving the nickname "The father of the Steam Navy".

In 1840, Perry received a promotion to Commodore. At the time in the United States Navy, the highest rank was Captain, commodore being a title given to those who were in charge of a squadron. The officer reverted back to his original rank once his tour was over. Despite this protocol, many retained the title of commodore for life, Perry was no exception.

In 1845, Perry assumed command of the Home Squadron. The Home Squadron was responsible for patrolling American coastal waters, similar to the United States Coast Guard today. Perry led the squadron in the Mexican-American war.

In 1852, Perry headed to Japan along with several ships under his command. The purpose of Perry's expedition was to establish trade with Japan, a then isolationist country. Perry spent many long hours preparing for his first encounter with Japanese diplomats. On Perry's arrival in Japan, he was ordered leave, Perry insisted he travel to Edo. When pulling into Edo, he ordered ships guns be trained on a nearby village. After other intimidating techniques, all of which Perry had learned through his study of the available material on Japan, Perry was permitted to deliver the letter from President Millard Fillmore. Perry promised to return for an answer.

In 1854, Perry returned to Japan to discover the delegation he was dealing with had agreed to all of the President's demands.

In 1855, Perry returned to the United States and began working on his memoirs of his expedition. He completed his memoirs just months before his death on March 4th, 1858.

Perry was a member of Holland Lodge No. 8 in New York City, New York.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.