David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers  1803-1889
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Collection Scope and Content Note

David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers (4 linear feet) contain the letters and writings of two American naval officers who served in the 1st Barbary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Included are official and family letters, as well as David D. Porter's manuscript drafts of his history and fiction works.

The David Porter Correspondence series (231 items) contains Porter's incoming and outgoing letters covering 1805 to 1840, most of which deal with his naval service during the War of 1812, and his West Indian patrol duty, with some items documenting his time in the Mexican Navy and his diplomatic career. Present are seven items related to his time in the Mediterranean during the First Barbary War, eight letters from Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith during Porter's service in command of the United States Gun Boats at New Orleans prior to the War of 1812, and 15 War of 1812 era letters from Isaac Hull concerning his interest in administrative improvements in the navy. Other topics include the release of officers and crew of the U.S. Essex , Porter's relationship with the Carrera brothers and support for Chilean independence, and Porter's command of the West India Squadron (1823-1825).

Items of note include:

  • March 10, 1809: Edward Livingston to David Porter requesting an opinion of his proposed improvements to the harbor of New Orleans
  • September 21, 1812: John Stricker to David Porter announcing the safe arrival of the Prize brig Lamprey , captured by Porter on July 13, 1812
  • May 3, 1824: Cecilio Ayllon, military governor of Cuba, to Porter concerning the disrespectful and damaging conduct of American sailors at a woman's property near Matanzas, Cuba
  • January 1843: George Read's naval order and an order of the procession, with diagram, for David Porter's funeral
  • April 24, 1843: Abel P. Upshaw's general order concerning the death of David Porter

The David D. Porter Correspondence series contains Porter's incoming and outgoing letters covering 1845 to 1889. These include few letters from early in his naval career, 15 Civil War era letters, and many peacetime letters with fellow naval officers and government officials. Also of importance are 24 letters dealing with the 1889 Benjamin Butler controversy, along with typescripts of material related to the court. Other family papers include 3 items to Evelina Porter and a small number of late 19th and 20th century material concerning the naval career of Theodoric Porter.

Items of note include:

  • January 10, 1847: David P. Porter's "Last will and testament"
  • June 18, 1854: C.J. Latrobe to David D. Porter, Bay of Panama, concerning gratitude to Porter from the passengers on the Golden Age , the first steam ship crossing of the pacific to Panama
  • March 23, 1855: Harry S. Wayne to David D. Porter, concerning introducing camels for use in U.S.
  • August 25, 1861: G.H. Heap to his brother-in-law David D. Porter describing pre-war excitement in Washington D.C.
  • June 1, 1862: Letter to David D. Porter planning an assault on the mouth of the Mississippi River
  • September 6, 1862: Edward Hooker to David D. Porter recounting the naval engagement of the Louisiana
  • September 28, 1864: David D. Porter's general order for the Mississippi Squadron announcing his leave of office
  • January 7, 1879 and April 21, 1889: William Tecumseh Sherman to David D. Porter discussing memories of Sherman's brother, Porter's current naval activities, and social engagements
  • August 8, 1879: Fragment report on the construction of the Danish ironclad Helgoland
  • March 3, 1884: Ulysses S. Grant to David Porter describing the state of Grant's health

The David D. Porter Manuscript Writings series is comprised of drafts and fragments of Porter's literary and historical works, novels, essays, speeches, and biographical notes.

These include:

  • Two autobiographical manuscripts, parts 1, 2, and 3 of My Career in the Navy Department and portions of a journal describing his Civil War experiences
  • Draft of an adventure story
  • Pages 353-474 of a novel
  • Notes on the Civil War, in particular the Vicksburg campaign and the Red River Expedition, and Sherman and Lincoln, for his book The Naval History of the Civil War
  • "Extracts from my Journal made for General Badeau, when he was writing the life of General Grant. These are a little fuller than the Journal"
  • Sketch of the career of D. D. Porter in the Mexican War (1870s)
  • Report concerning a 1873 North Western Texas Land and Copper Expedition
  • Various naval reports: Fleet Tactics, Report of the Board on injuries received by the Hyascar in the action of October 8, 1879, a "List of Vessels of the Chinese Navy and Custom Service" with details on class, tonnage, guns, carriages, number of men, horse power, location built, and construction material (1864-1877)

The Miscellaneous Documents series consists of newspaper clippings, a David D. Porter article entitled "The Opening of the Lower Mississippi, April 1862," a color map of Fort Jackson, and a schematic diagram of torpedo machinery designed for the tugboat Nina (May 1869).

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