|Title||Perries [sic] Victory on Lake Erie.|
after painting by William Henry Powell
|Medium||Photograph, black and white|
|Dimensions||h. 3.25 x w. 6.0625 in. ( h. 8.255 x w. 15.39875 cm)|
|Credit Line||U.S. Senate Collection|
"We have met the enemy and they are ours–two ships, two brigs, one schooner and a sloop." With this simple victory message to General William Henry Harrison, commander of the U.S. forces in the Northwest Territory, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry announced his victory over the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie. The battle ensured American control of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812, and secured the countrys tenuous hold on the Northwest. Artist William Henry Powell captured this historic event in a monumental painting that dominates the east grand stairway in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol. A stereoview (38.00476.001), by Washington, D.C., publisher John F. Jarvis, shows a detail from Powells painting–it depicts the moment when Perry made his way in a rowboat, through enemy fire, from his severely damaged flagship, the Lawrence, to another ship, the Niagara, where he took command and soundly defeated the British. Stereoviews were popular with the public by the 1860s, and viewing stereo cards became a common pastime for middle and upper class America. Jarviss photograph may have been bought as a souvenir from a Capitol visit, or purchased by someone who would never have the opportunity to see the building, but wanted a collectible symbol representing the nations Capitol.