Commodore David Porter, USN

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David Porter

Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: March 3, 1843 (63)
Beyoğlu, İstanbul, Turkey
Immediate Family:

Son of David Porter, Sr., and Rebecca Porter
Husband of Evalina Porter
Partner of Elizabeth Farragut
Father of Commodore William D. Porter (USN) and Admiral David Dixon Porter (USN)
Brother of John Porter and Rebecca Culbertson Rosenmuller

Managed by: Private User
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About Commodore David Porter, USN

David Porter (February 1, 1780 – March 3, 1843) was an officer in the United States Navy in a rank of commodore and later the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy.


Born at Boston, Mass., Porter served in the Quasi-War with France first as midshipman on board USS Constellation, participating in the capture of L’Insurgente February 9, 1799; secondly, as 1st lieutenant of Experiment and later in command of USS Amphitheatre. During the Barbary Wars (1801–07) Porter was 1st lieutenant of Enterprise, New York and Philadelphia and was taken prisoner when Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor October 31, 1803. After his release on June 3, 1805, he remained in the Mediterranean as acting captain of Constitution and later captain of Enterprise.

He was in charge of the naval forces at New Orleans 1808–10. As commander of USS Essex (1799) in the War of 1812, Captain Porter achieved fame by capturing the first British warship of the conflict, HMS Alert, August 13, 1812 as well as several merchantmen. In 1813 he sailed Essex around Cape Horn and cruised in the Pacific warring on British whalers. On March 28, 1814 Porter was forced to surrender to Captain James Hillyar off Valparaiso after an engagement with the frigate HMS Phoebe and the sloop Cherub, when his ship became too disabled to offer any resistance.

From 1815 to 1822, he was a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners but gave up this post to command the expedition for suppressing piracy in the West Indies 1823–25. While in the West Indies suppressing piracy, Porter invaded the town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico (a Spanish colony) to avenge the jailing of an officer from his fleet. The American government did not sanction Porter's act, and he was court-martialed upon his return to the U.S. Porter resigned and in 1826 entered the Mexican Navy as its commander-in-chief 1826–29. He left the Mexican service in 1829 and was appointed United States Minister to the Barbary States. He died on March 3, 1843 while serving as United States Ambassador to Turkey. He was buried in the cemetery of the Philadelphia Naval Asylum, and then in 1845 reburied in the Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Portersville was named after him, and henceafterwards renamed "Valparaiso" after Valparaíso, Chile, where he fought during the War of 1812.

Marriage and family

Porter married Evalina Anderson, and they had 10 children who survived, including six sons.

The older David Porter Sr. met and befriended another naval veteran of the Revolution, George Farragut, from Spanish Minorca. In late spring 1808, David Porter Sr. suffered sunstroke, and Farragut took him into his home, where his wife Elizabeth cared for him. Already weakened by tuberculosis, he died on June 22, 1808. Elizabeth Farragut died of yellow fever the same day. Motherless, the Farragut children were to be placed with friends and relatives.

While visiting Farragut and his family a short time later to express thanks for their care of his father and sympathy for their loss, Commodore Porter offered to take eight-year-old James Glasgow Farragut into his own household. Young James readily agreed. In 1809 he moved with Porter to Washington, where he met Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton and expressed his wish for a midshipman's appointment. Hamilton promised that the appointment would be made as soon as he reached the age of ten; as it happened, the commission came through on December 17, 1810, six months before the boy reached his tenth birthday. When James went to sea soon after with his adoptive father, he changed his name from James to David, and it is as David Glasgow Farragut that he is remembered.

The town of Porter and Porter County in Northwest Indiana are named after David Porter. In 1836 the county seat of Porter County, Indiana was originally named Portersville, also named for David Porter. It was changed to Valparaiso in 1837, named for Porter's participation in the naval action near Valparaiso, Chile during the War of 1812.

Adopted David Farragut (USN) after the death of his mother.

David's birth name was James. After his mother's death, he agreed to living with and being adopted in 1808 by David Porter, a naval officer whose father had been friends with his father. In 1812 James adopted the name David in honor of his adoptive father, with whom he went to sea late in 1810. David Farragut grew up in a naval family, as the adoptive brother of future Civil War admiral David Dixon Porter and commodore William D. Porter.

After the war, Farragut married the Irish-American Elizabeth Shine (1765-1808) from North Carolina. They moved west to Tennessee, where their son David Farragut (born James Glasgow Farragut) was born in 1801. They had several children.

Later they moved to New Orleans, where they were living in 1808. There Farragut met David Porter Sr., another naval officer who had served in the Revolution and was living with his son, also David Porter, on active duty with the Navy as an officer. The senior Porter came to their house one day suffering from sunstroke, and, despite Elizabeth's care, he died. The same day, Elizabeth died of yellow fever. George, age 53, made plans to place his young children with friends and family who could better care for them.

He was visited by the younger Porter, who thanked him for his wife's care of his father and expressed sympathy for his loss. Porter offered to adopt James and introduce him to a career in the Navy. James and his father agreed.

David Porter (February 1, 1780 – March 3, 1843) was an officer in the United States Navy in a rank of commodore. Porter commanded a number of US naval ships, including the famous USS Constitution. He saw service in the War of 1812, he Second Barbary War of 1815 and in the West Indies. He was later court martialed where he resigned and joined and became commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy.

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Commodore David Porter, USN's Timeline

February 1, 1780
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
March 10, 1808
Age 28
New Orleans, Orleans, LA, USA
June 8, 1813
Age 33
Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States
March 3, 1843
Age 63
Beyoğlu, İstanbul, Turkey