Matthew Perry
In 1852, President Millard Fillmore asked Matthew Perry, a distinguished officer in the U.S. Navy, to negotiate the first American treaty with Japan, at a time when that country still shunned contact with Western nations. He sailed in November, arrived the following May, and after a long, persistent effort was received by representatives of the Emperor in July, 1853. Finally, on March 31, 1854, the United States and Japan entered into a treaty of "peace, amity and commerce." Today historians acknowledge Perry's mission to be one of the chief diplomatic achievements of the nineteenth century. However, when he returned home in 1855, a new political administration had little interest in Perry's accomplishments. He described his mission in a three volume Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, published in 1856, and died in 1858. Mathew Brady made this portrait of Perry around 1857.

Mathew Brady Studio
Salted paper print, circa 1856 20.1 x 19.8 cm (7 7/8 x 7 13/16 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gift of John O'Brien