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First Name: David

Last Name: Porter

Birthplace: Boston, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 01 February 1780

Date of Death: 03 March 1843

Rank or Rate: Commodore

Years Served:
David Porter

•  Quasi-War (Franco-American War) (1798 - 1800)
•  1st Barbary War (1801 - 1805)
•  War of 1812


David Porter
Commodore, U.S. Navy

David Porter was born on 1 February 1780 in Boston, MA.

Porter served in the Quasi-War with France, first as midshipman on board USS Constellation, participating in the capture of L'Insurgente on 9 February 1799; secondly, as First Lieutenant of USS Experiment; and later in command of USS Amphitheatre.

During the Barbary Wars (1801-07), Porter was First lieutenant of USS Enterprise, USS New York and USS Philadelphia. He was taken prisoner when Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli Harbor on 31 October 1803. After his release on 3 June 1805, he remained in the Mediterranean as Acting Captain of USS Constitution and later as Captain of Enterprise.

He was in charge of the naval forces at New Orleans from 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, on 13 August 1812, as well as several merchantmen. In 1813 he sailed Essex around Cape Horn and cruised in the Pacific, warring on British whalers. On 28 March 1814, Porter was forced to surrender to Captain James Hillyar off Valparaíso after an engagement with the frigate HMS Phoebe and the sloop HMS Cherub (1806), when his ship became too disabled to offer any resistance.

From 1815-22, 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 from 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 from 1826-29. He left the Mexican service in 1829 and was appointed U.S. Minister to the Barbary States. He died while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.


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


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

Death and Burial

Commodore David Porter died on 3 March 1843. He was buried in the cemetery of the Philadelphia Naval Asylum and in 1845 was re-interred at the Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.

Honoree ID: 2970   Created by: MHOH




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