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How Do We Know the Truth?


Historical Documents

Historical records state that Perry's ships were made on the banks of Lake Erie from locally available timber: white and black oak, chestnut, and pine.

Mackenzie, Alexander Slidell. The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1840. 2 vols. P. 136.

Conservation Records

The frame was long thought to be made of mahogany. However, a 1999 cleaning and restoration revealed that it is constructed of walnut. Neither walnut nor mahogany were recorded as being used to construct Perry's ships.

Historical Timeline

A timeline of historical events shows that both ships Perry used during the battle were at the bottom of Lake Erie when the frame was made.

1813 - September 10, the Battle of Lake Erie is fought.
1815 - Perry's flagship, U.S. Brig Lawrence, is intentionally sunk by the U.S. Navy at Misery Bay, Lake Erie.
1820 - The ship to which Perry transferred his flag, U.S. Brig Niagara, is intentionally sunk by the U.S. Navy at Misery Bay.
1836 - Lawrence is briefly raised for examination, and then re-sunk. There is no record that any wood was removed from the ship.
1873 - William Henry Powell completes Battle of Lake Erie at a temporary studio in the U.S. Capitol.