Hailed for his decisive victory over a Royal Navy squadron on Lake Erie in September 1813 and best known for his after-action report proclamation `We have met the enemy and they are ours', Oliver Hazard Perry was one the early U.S. Navy s most famous heroes. In this modern, scholarly reassessment of the man and his career, Professor David Skaggs emphasizes Perry s place in naval history as an embodiment of the code of honour, an exemplar of combat courage, and a symbol of patriotism to his fellow officers and the American public. It is the first biography of Perry to be published in more than a quarter of a century and the first to offer an even-handed analysis of his career.
After completing a thorough examination of primary sources, Skaggs traces Perry s development from a midshipman to commodore where he personified the best in seamanship, calmness in times of stress, and diplomatic skills. But this work is not a hagiographic treatment, for it offers a candid analysis of Perry s character flaws, particularly his short temper and his sometimes ineffective command and control procedures during the battle of Lake Erie.
Skaggs also explains how Perry's short but dramatic naval career epitomized the emerging naval professionalism of the young republic, and he demonstrates how the `Hero of Lake Erie' fits into the most recent scholarship concerning the role of post-revolutionary generation in the development of American national identity. Finally, Skaggs explores in greater detail than anyone before the controversy over the conduct of his Lake Erie second, Jesse Duncan Elliott, that raged on for over a quarter century after Perry s death in 1819.
David Curtis Skaggs, is an American historian of the Colonial and Early Republic periods. In 1965, he was appointed instructor in history at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, where he rose through the academic ranks becoming full professor in 1977, and professor emeritus in 2002. He served as visiting associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, in 1971-72; William C. Foster Visiting Fellow at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National Defense Intelligence College 1989; Visiting Professor of Military History and Strategy at Air University 1990-91; visiting professor at East Carolina University, and consultant faculty member at the United States Army Command and General Staff College, 1970-1990.