On 10 September 1813, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry met and defeated a British flotilla, under Commander Robert Heriot Barclay, at the Battle of Lake Erie. With a squadron of nine ships, manned be a mixed crew of soldiers, marines, and sailors, including a significant number of African American seamen, Perry achieved one of the most significant victories of the War of 1812. At the most crucial period of the engagement, with the flagship the Lawrence battered into a helpless wreck, Perry transferred his command to the U.S. Brig Niagara, aboard which he broke the British battle line and achieved his great triumph. Moments after the final gun went silent, Perry wrote his now famous message to General William Henry Harrison: " We have met the enemy and they are ours." Perry's victory on Lake Erie accomplished three ends. It secured control of the lake for the United States. Furthermore, it proved a valuable morale booster for a country desperately in need of good news. Lastly, it provided a bargaining chip for the United States peace commissioners in Ghent, Belgium until further American victories in 1814 convinced the British to treat the peace process seriously. The peace treaties made at that time are still in effect today.
In the decades following the battle, several movements were generated to construct a monument to Perry. Enthusiasm was plentiful, but finances were not. It was not until 1910, with the centennial of the battle approaching that the dream of building the Perry Memorial actually came to pass. Begun in October of 1912, Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial opened to the public in June of 1915. In 1936, the Memorial was declared a National Monument by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at which time the Memorial became part of the National Park System.