Friday, February 1, 2013

Booty: Heroic Anniversary

February 1, 1780: David Porter is born in Boston, Massachusets. From an illustrious seafaring family - his father, also David Porter, served in the Continental Navy and famously managed to escape the hellish British prison hulk Jersey - Porter would go on to be one of the most celebrated and controversial commanders in the U.S. Navy. He is certainly at the top of my list when it comes to examples of true nautical heroes.

In his honor, here is a portion of President Madison's speech to Congress circa 1814 in which he voices his opinion of Porter's service aboard the frigate USS Essex during the War of 1812 and it's unfortunate loss to the British:

On the ocean... a second frigate has fallen into the hands of the enemy*; but the loss is hidden in the blaze of heroism with which she was defended. Captain Porter... whose previous career had been distinguished by daring enterprise, and by the fertility of genius, maintained a sanguinary contest against two ships, one of them superior to his own... until humanity tore down the colors, which valor had nailed to the mast. This officer and his comrades have added much to the rising glory of the American flag; and have merited all the effusions of gratitude, which their country is ever ready to bestow on the champions of its rights, and its safety.

* The other frigate Madison refers to was USS Chesapeake, lost in battle with HMS Shannon.

For a capable discussion of Porter's cruise aboard Essex, see this post at Historynet.

Header: David Porter USN by John Trumbull via Naval History Center


Timmy! said...

Huzzah! for David Porter, Pauline!

Pauline said...

Pretty impressive career all in all. It's too bad his name and deeds aren't more widely known.

Charles L. Wallace said...

What a fabulous tale: ESSEX, under Porter. Huzzah, indeed!