U.S. Flag

Perries [sic] Victory on Lake Erie.

Perries [sic] Victory on Lake Erie.
by Unidentified
after painting by William Henry Powell
John F. Jarvis
Photograph, black and white
Image measurement
      Height: 3.25 inches  (8.255 cm)
      Width:  6.0625 inches  (15.39875 cm)
Cat. no. 38.00476.001

"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 countryís 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 Powellís 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. Jarvisís 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 nationís Capitol.