The Otsego Herald: Commodore Perry, hero of Lake Erie, dies in Trinidad

Paul Donnelly Village historian Hugh MacDougall, right, poseswith Katherine Lloyd and Harry Bradshaw Mathewsat a recent Friends of the VIllage Library event. MacDougall will be the speaker at another library event at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Otsego Herald for Oct. 11, 1819, compiled, with comments:


Lake Erie Hero dies

Oliver H. Perry is no more!

Died on the 23d August on board the United States schooner Nonsuch, as the moment of her arrival at Port (of) Spain, in the Island of Trinidad, COMMODORE OLIVER H. PERRY. — He was taken with the yellow fever on his passage from the town of Angostura. He retained his faculties to the last, was perfectly collected and resigned, and submitted to his fate with great fortitude.

His remains were interred at Port (of) Spain on the 24th of August, with naval and military honors. The troops of the island, a great concourse of citizens, together with the officers and crews of the Nonsuch formed the procession. The funeral was splendid and imposing, and there appeared to be one sentiment of mournful regret among all who assembled to witness this melancholy spectacle.

COMMENT: The USS Nonsuch was built as a privateer in 1812, but served in the American Navy during the War of 1812 as an armed schooner. Her career seems usually to be described as “moderately successful.” She was decommissioned in 1825 and demolished the following year.

The word “nonsuch” means unequalled.

Angostura was a town in Venezuela (today called Ciudad Bolivar), but the famous Angostura Bitters has since 1876 been produced on Trinidad.

“The controversy between Battle of Lake Erie hero Oliver Hazard Perry and his second in command, Jesse Duncan Elliott, sets a record for estrangement and bombast lasting nearly a third of a century.” Elliott was junior to Perry, but had a more impressive battle record. In the battle, Perry commanded an American fleet against a British one on Sept. 10, 1813.

Perry’s ship was almost destroyed by the British, and taking a small boat, he made his way to Elliott’s ship, sent Elliott to round up some schooners, took command of the ship, and won a decisive victory over the British. Perry’s post-victory reports were distinctly feeble as to Elliott’s performance. Elliott and his friends were furious. Perry, as we have just seen, died at Trinidad in 1819.


History has fully demonstrated that luxury has the inevitable effect of weakening and eventually destroying the most powerful of nations, and economy that of strengthening and perpetuating the existence of the weak. They operate upon the body politic and the body corporeal alike, the one is sure to effeminate and weaken, the other to strengthen and invigorate. ...

England’s ... degenerated nobility ... have plunged into a vortex of dissipation and profligacy which is rapidly hurrying within its deadly grasp, the last remnants of their country’s greatness. ... The sighs of the suffering plebian already mingle with the shouts of midnight revelry, and every draught of the intoxicating bowl is mantling with the tears of oppressed humanity. Oh, land hastening to decay. ...

Luxury is a vice that steals silently and almost imperceptibly into the heart of society, and her ravages are not discovered till she has effected her object — till every vein and pore is saturated with her baleful poison. — Philo Howard.

COMMENT: Possibly by Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851), one of America’s earliest, most prominent, and versatile members of the Jewish faith, but most probably by an admirer of him (Philo Howard), whom I have not identified.

Gran Columbia

Extract of a letter written on board the U. States Schooner, Nonsuch, at anchor off Angostura.

Sunday, 15th August. — This day at two o’clock, the constitution of the country was adopted, and signed, amid the discharge of cannon. I have not learned what the articles of it are, but presume they are much like those of the United States. — The naval force of the new country is about 30 vessels, composed of brigs, schooners, and gun boats.

COMMENT: The country was “Gran Columbia,” formed on Aug. 15, 1819, by Simon Bolivar at the Congress of Angostura (Ciudad Bolivar in today’s Venezuela), and it is an early constitution of Venezuela that was adopted on Aug. 15 there. Gran Columbia eventually included Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador and parts of today’s Peru, Guyana and Brazil.

John Quincy Adams, then American secretary of state, said it was “one of the most powerful nations on the planet.” However, after a series of troubles, it split up on 1831.

Colonization Company

There has been formed in Stutgard, a company, under the name of the American Colonization Company, which consists of men of good understanding in society. They have purchased 1,849,000 acres of land, in Virginia and Kentucky, on the east and south side of the Ohio, crossed by the Kentucky and other navigable rivers. The former proprietor of the lands, from Boston, is one of the company.

They accept adventurers on various conditions of enlistment. These must lawfully leave their government, be accused of no crimes, subjected to no judicial proceedings, and devoted to the Christian religion.

The company pledge themselves to provide for the colonists the expenses of the voyage, either by defraying the expenses of it, or by making advances as circumstances demand.

In the first as well as the second case they shall be, on their arrival in the United States, free and unlimited proprietors, and enjoy the possession of the land, for which they shall either pay a low price in cash, or receive it on credit from the company. — N.Y. Daily Advertiser.

COMMENT: The only information I have found about this enterprise is a stock certificate (in French) issued in 1820 for one share, good for 100 acres in Virginia or Kentucky, for an investment of 1,300 French francs, with an annual interest of 6%, paid for 30 years, using coupons attached to the certificate.

The amount of 1,300 francs in 1820 would have then been worth about $236.

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