Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born at Boston, Massachusetts, Porter served in the Quasi-War with France first as midshipman on board USS Constellation, participating in the capture of L’Insurgente 9 February 1799; secondly, as 1st lieutenant of Experiment and later in command of Amphitrite. 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 31 October 1803. After his release 3 June 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 Essex in the War of 1812, Captain Porter achieved fame by capturing the first British warship of the conflict, Alert , 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 off Valpariso after an unequal contest with the frigates HMS Phoebe and Cherub and only when his ship was 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. Commodore Porter resigned his commission in 1826 and became the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy 1826–29. He died on 3 March 1843 while U.S. Minister of Turkey.
See USS Porter for ships named in their honor.
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