David Porter was born in Pennsylvania in 1813. The son of Commodore David Porter, in 1824 he sailed with his father to the West Indies to suppress piracy. After a serving in the Mexican Navy (1827-29) he joined the US Navy in 1829. Over the next thirty years he served in the Mediterranean, the South Atlantic and the Gulf.
On the outbreak of the the outbreak of the American Civil War Porter was given command of the USSS Powhatan and in December, 1861, joined with his foster brother, David Farragut, on the New Orleans expedition. Porter and Farragut captured the forts guarding the port in April, 1862 and troops led by General Benjamin F. Butler occupied the city soon afterwards.
After this success Porter took command of the Mississippi Squadron and working with General William T. Sherman captured Arkansas Post in January, 1863. He also took part in the Vicksburg campaign in July, 1863. As commander of the North Atlantic Squadron, he participated in the capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
Porter received four Thanks of Congress during the war. Promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral in 1866, he was superintendent of the Naval Academy, until being appointed Admiral in 1870. David Porter died in Washington on 13th February, 1891.