Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Oliver Hazard Perry (17851819)
We have met the enemy and they are ourstwo ships, two brigs, one schooner and a sloop.
OLIVER HAZARD PERRY, message to General William Henry Harrison, September 10, 1813.
The earliest printed source for this is found in Robert B. McAfee, History of the Late War in the Western Country, chapter 8, p. 354 (1816), and the message in its entirety as given here is reprinted in Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison, ed. Logan Esarey, vol. 2, p. 539 (1922, reprinted 1975).
Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812, p. 530 (1868), has a facsimile of the Perry message, with the introduction, When Perrys eye perceived at a glance that victory was secure, he wrote, in pencil, on the back of an old letter, resting it upon his navy cap, that remarkable dispatch to General Harrison whose first clause has been so often quoted. No source for the original message is given. The circumstances under which the message was written have been told in many biographies of both Perry and Harrison.