David Dixon Porter

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Admiral David Dixon Porter (8 June, 1813 – 13 February, 1891) served in the United States Navy.

Life & Career

Porter was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 27 February, 1841.

Porter was promoted to the rank of Commander on 22 April, 1861.

Porter was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral on 4 July, 1863.

Porter was promoted to the rank of Captain on 25 July, 1866.

With the inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant in March 1869, Porter found himself acting as advisor and éminence grise to the disinterested Secretary of the Navy Adolph Borie. In effect he was something close to Acting Secretary. He earned the enmity of the engineer branch of the Navy for what were considered anti-steam policies such as running down the (mostly indefensible) overseas coaling stations the Navy possessed, and the conversion of the record-setting but militarily useless screw frigate Wampanoag from steam to sail.[1][2][3] Despite his reactionary reputation, Porter was not averse to technology. An ardent advocate of torpedo craft, Porter was the impetus for the construction of the torpedo rams Alarm and Intrepid in 1873.[4]

Porter was promoted to the rank of Admiral—only the second officer ever to reach this rank in the U.S. Navy after David Glasgow Farragut—on 15 August, 1870. This appointment was not without controversy, as Porter had several political enemies including some of the "political generals" he had clashed with during the Civil War.[5]

See Also


  • Chesneau, Robert; Kolesnik, Eugene (editors) (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Friedman, Norman (2004). U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. Revised Edition. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com).
  • Hearn, Chester G. (1996). Admiral David Dixon Porter: the Civil War Years. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.
  • Lewis, Paul (1968). Yankee Admiral: a Biography of David Dixon Porter. Philadelphia, PA: David McKay Co., 1968.
  • McBride, William M. (2000). Technological Change and the United States Navy, 1865-1945. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Soley, James Russell (1903). Admiral Porter. New York: D. Appleton & Company.
  • Porter, David Dixon (1875). Memoir of Commodore David Porter: of the United States Navy. Albany, NY: J. Munsell.
  • West, Richard S. Jr. (1937). The Second Admiral: a Life of David Dixon Porter. New York: Coward-McCann, inc.


Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
George S. Blake
Superintendent of the Naval Academy
9 Sep, 1865 – 1 Dec, 1869
Succeeded by
John L. Worden


  1. Wampanoag had achieved a speed of over 17 knots on trials, but her machinery spaces were so vast that she couldn't accommodate enough supplies for extended cruising or even her full complement. See Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 124, and Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. pp. 57-58.
  2. Friedman. U.S. Cruisers. p. 14.
  3. McBride. Technological Change. p. 16-18, mentions Porter's rejection of the Wampanoag but neglects to mention her major design defects.
  4. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers (Revised ed). p. 7.
  5. West. Second Admiral. pp. 327–334.