David Porter (February 1, 1780 - March 3, 1843) was an officer in the United States Navy in the rank of captain and the honorary title of commodore. Porter commanded a number of U.S. naval ships, including the famous USS Constitution. He saw service in the First Barbary War, the War of 1812 and in the West Indies.
On July 2, 1812, Porter hoisted the banner "Free trade and sailors' rights" as captain of USS Essex. The phrase resonated with many Americans. Porter was later court martialed; he resigned and then joined and became commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy.
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 on February 9, 1799; secondly, as 1st lieutenant of Experiment and later in command of USS Amphitheatre.
During the First Barbary War (1801-07) Porter was first lieutenant of Enterprise, New York and Philadelphia and was taken prisoner when Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor on October 31, 1803. After his release on June 3, 1805, he remained in the Mediterranean as acting captain of USS Constitution and later captain of Enterprise.
Porter served in the Quasi war with France. He was appointed a midshipman on 16 April 1798. He was assigned to Constellation under the command of John Rodgers. He was promoted to lieutenant on 8 October 1799. As lieutenant he served as second in command of the schooner USS Experiment during the action of 1 January 1800, in which he got shot in his arm. He was promoted to master commandant on 22 April 1806 and was in charge of the naval forces at New Orleans from 1808 to 1810.