Navy Heroes: Jordi Farragut Mesquida (George Farragut), David Porter, David Glasgow Farragut, David Dixon Porter, Matthew Fontaine Maury - American Minute with Bill Federer

David Dixon Porter David Glasgow Farragut David Porter Matthew Fontaine MauryAmerican Minute with Bill Federer Navy Heroes: Jordi Farragut Mesquida (George Farragut)

During the Revolution, America benefited from the Spanish and French navies laying siege to British controlled Gibraltar.
It was the longest siege the British had ever endured, and one of the longest in naval history, requiring an enormous amount of British military resources that would have otherwise been sent to America.
The Dutch secretly funneled weapons to America through the Island of St. Eustatius.
In a similar way, Spain and France secretly supplied materials and arms to America through a front trading business -- "Roderigue Hortalez and Company."
The company covertly worked with Connecticut merchant Silas Deane and Thomas Morris, the half-brother of Robert Morris, the "Financier of the Revolution."

The Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, allowed supplies to be brought by ship up the Mississippi River to aid the Continental Army.
In 1779, Gálvez defeated the British at Fort Bute, Baton Rouge, and Natchez, freeing up the lower Mississippi Valley.
In 1780, he captured Mobile in the Battle of Fort Charlotte, and in 1781, defeated the British at Pensacola.
After driving the British out of West Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, his forces captured the British naval base of Nassau, Bahamas.
Gálvez was made an honorary U.S. citizen, and Galveston, Texas, was named for him.
Citizens of Spanish Cuba, most notably the ladies of Havana, donated their gold and jewelry and sent it to General Washington to help him defeat the British at Yorktown.
Historian Stephen Bonsal wrote in When the French Were Here (Doubleday, Doran & Co.,1945):
"The millions that were supplied ... by the ladies of Havana, may, with truth, be regarded as the 'bottom dollars' upon which the edifice of American independence was erected."

Jordi Farragut Mesquida, was born in Menorca, Spain.
He went to sea at age 10, and eventually became a Spanish merchant captain.
Crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean, he commanded a vessel trading goods between Havana, Cube; Veracruz, Mexico; and New Orleans.
Jordi Farragut Mesquida moved to America in 1766, where he changed his name to George Farragut.

He became a patriot and joined in the Revolutionary War against Britain.
He served as a lieutenant in the South Carolina Navy and then the Continental Navy.
During the Revolutionary War, George Farragut fought at Savannah, 1779; was captured in the Siege of Charleston, 1780; then fought in the Battles of Cowpens and Wilmington, 1781.
After the Revolution, George Farragut, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their son David Glasgow Farragut, moved to New Orleans.

New Orleans had been the capital of the Spanish Province of Luisiana from the end of the French and Indian War, when the French gave it to Spain with the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau in order to keep it out of the hands of the British.
In 1800, Napoleon forced Spain to give the Louisiana Territory back to France with the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, and then Napoleon immediately turned around and sold it to the United States in 1803.

In New Orleans, George Farragut met David Porter, Sr., another Navy veteran of the American Revolution.
David Porter, Sr., contracted tuberculosis, and, after suffering sunstroke in 1808, was taken in and cared for by George and Elizabeth Farragut.
Tragically, David Porter, Sr., died and later that very same day George Farragut's wife Elizabeth died of yellow fever.

After losing his wife, George Farragut's financial situation grew desperate and he was unable to provide for his children.
By this time, David Porter, Sr.'s son, also named David Porter, had risen in the ranks to become U.S. Navy Commodore.
David Porter offered to adopt George Farragut's 8-year-old David Glasgow Farragut.
Commodore David Porter had an illustrious career which began during the Quasi-War with France, serving as a midshipman on the USS Constellation, under the command of John Rogers.
They captured the French ship L’Insurgente, February 9, 1799.
Porter was 1st lieutenant of the schooner USS Experiment and commanded the USS Amphitheatre.
Porter served during the First Barbary War (1801-07) against the Muslim pirates who were terrorizing the Mediterranean, being 1st lieutenant on the Enterprise, New York, and Philadelphia.

When the Philadelphia became stuck on an uncharted sand bar along the coast of North Africa, October 31, 1803, Muslim Barbary pirates surrounded it and captured the crew.
Porter was among those held as prisoners in Tripoli for over a year and a half.

After release, June 3, 1805, Porter continued patrolling the Mediterranean, as acting captain of the famous USS Constitution, and captain of the USS Enterprise.
During the War of 1812, David Porter was captain of the USS Essex.
At this time, serving as a midshipman, was his newly adopted 11-year-old son, David Glasgow Farragut.
David Porter sailed around South America's Cape Horn to the Pacific where he claimed the Marquesas Islands for America in 1813.
The U.S. Congress never ratified the claim, so France took control of the Marquesas Islands in 1842, making it part of French Polynesia.
As the War of 1812 continued, Porter raided British whaling ships in the South Pacific until his USS Essex was captured at the Battle of Valparaiso, Chile.
Commodore David Porter later took command of an expedition to suppress piracy in the West Indies.
When one of his officers was captured and jailed, Porter retaliated by raiding Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
As this was an unauthorized action, Porter was pressured to resign.

David Porter then went to Mexico and served as commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy from 1826-1829.
Afterwards, in 1829, the United States appointed Porter to be Minister to the Muslim Barbary States.
In 1831, he was made U.S. Ambassador to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, serving till his death in 1843.
Named for him was:
  • USS Porter;
  • Porter, Indiana;
  • Porter County, Indiana; and
  • Valparaiso, Indiana, named for Commodore Porter's Battle of Valparaiso.

David Porter's adopted son, David Glasgow Farragut went on to serve aboard the USS Washington, 1817-1818, patrolling the Mediterranean Barbary Muslim Coast.
David Glasgow Farragut spent nine months in Tunis as an aid to Navy Chaplain Charles Folsom, who was serving as the U.S. Consul, till a plague forced his departure.

In 1825, David Glasgow Farragut served on the USS Brandywine which was escorting Marquis de Lafayette back to France after his extended visit to America.
On board was 19-year-old midshipman Matthew Fontaine Maury.
When the Civil War started, Matthew Fontaine Maury joined the Confederacy, where he perfected an underwater naval mine, which he called a "torpedo."
Maury's torpedoes, according the the U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 1865 "cost the Union more vessels than all other causes combined."

In 1862, David Glasgow Farragut sailed up the Mississippi River at night.
Farragut's ships were hard to hit with cannon fire as he had covered the hulls with mud and tied tree branches to the rigging which made them difficult to see from the opposite shore.
On April 19, 1862, he captured New Orleans, the Confederacy's largest city.

In 1864, Admiral Farragut sailed his fleet of wooden ships, with hulls wrapped in chains, accompanied by four iron clad monitors, to attack Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.
He had lashed himself atop the mainsail to see above the smoke of the battle.
The harbor was filled with Maury's dangerous underwater "torpedoes."
One of Farragut's iron clad monitors, the TECUMSEH, struck a torpedo.
The explosion was enormous and the vessel quickly sank.
At the sight of this, the rest of the fleet faltered in confusion.
Admiral David Glasgow Farragut yelled out:
"Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"
Rallying his sailors, he captured Mobile, Alabama, the last Confederate stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico, on August 5, 1864.
David Glasgow Farragut, the son of a Spanish captain, George Farragut, and the adoptive son of Commodore David Porter, who served for a time as Commander of Mexico's Navy, was promoted to be the first U.S. Navy Admiral.
Farragut was encouraged to run for President, but declined.
In 2017, the Spanish Ministry of Defense published a book commemorating George and David Farragut:
In David Glasgow Farragut's honor are:
  • two classes of Navy destroyers;
  • Farragut, Tennessee;
  • two postage stamps;
  • a $100 Treasury Note;
  • a statue in Madison Square Park in New York City;
  • a statue in Boston,
  • a statue in Washington, D.C.
There is even a Washington, D.C., subway stop Farragut Station.

His son, Loyall Farragut, wrote in a book titled The Life and Letters of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut:
"He never felt so near his Master as he did when in a storm, knowing that on his skill depended the safety of so many lives."
During his last illness, David Glasgow Farragut asked for a clergyman to pray to the Lord, saying:
"He must be my pilot now!"
David Glasgow Farragut's adoptive brother was David Dixon Porter (1813-1891), who followed in his footsteps to become the second U.S. Navy Admiral.

David Dixon Porter helped Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War in the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1863, and in the attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, 1864-65.
David Dixon Porter later served as superintendent of U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Admiral David Dixon Porter stated:
"When one sees how much has been done for the world by the disciples of Christ and those professing the Christian religion, he must be astonished to find anyone who hesitates to believe in the Divine origin of Jesus and the wonderful works He performed,
all of which are so beautifully portrayed by the author of the work under consideration;
and no man or woman of real intelligence would hesitate to believe that it is only through Christ that sinners can be saved, unless their vanity is so great that they are capable of saving themselves without an intermediary."
After the Civil War, Matthew Fontaine Maury served briefly in the Mexican government, under the French leader, Maximilian.
He even attempted to build a colony in Mexico called the New Virginia Colony.
Maury returned to the United States where he accepted the teaching position of Professor of Meteorology at Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.), also holding the chair of physics.
Offered the position of president of several universities, he declined, keeping a rigorous schedule lecturing on science in America and Europe.
When the president of Washington and Lee University died, Robert E. Lee, Maury served as a pall bearer.

Matthew Fontaine Maury is considered the founder of modern hydrography and oceanography.
Maury developed the U.S. Naval Observatory's Hydrographic Office, which was often visited by former President John Quincy Adams, who avidly enjoyed astronomy.
He charted sea and wind currents while serving in the U.S. Navy, earning the reputation of "Pathfinder of the Seas."
Matthew Fontaine Maury wrote in his book Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855, which was the first popular textbook on marine science:
"I have always found in my scientific studies, that, when I could get the Bible to say anything on the subject it afforded me a firm platform to stand upon, and a round in the ladder by which I could safely ascend.
As our knowledge of nature and her laws has increased, so has our knowledge of many passages of the Bible improved."
Maury continued:
"The Bible called the earth 'the round world,' yet for ages it was the most damnable heresy for Christian men to say that the world is round; and, finally, sailors circumnavigated the globe, and proved the Bible to be right, and saved Christian men of science from the stake.
And as for the general system of circulation which I have been so long endeavoring to describe, the Bible tells it all in a single sentence: 'The wind goeth toward the South and returneth again to his circuits.'"

Matthew Fontaine Maury stated:
"I will, however ... ask pardon for mentioning a rule of conduct which I have adopted in order to make progress with these physical researches which have occupied so much of my time ...
The rule is, never to forget who is the Author of the great volume which nature spreads out before us, and always to remember that the same Being is the author of the book which revelation holds up to us."
Captain Phinney of the ship Gertrude wrote a letter acknowledging the influence Maury had made on him:
"I am free to confess that for many years I commanded a ship and although never insensible to the beauties of nature upon the sea or land, I yet feel that until I took up your work, I had been traversing the ocean blindfolded ...
I did not know the amazing and beautiful combination of all the works of Him whom you so beautifully term 'the Great First Thought' ... You have done me good as a man.
You have taught me to look above, around and beneath me and recognize God's hand in every element by which I am surrounded. I am so grateful for this personal benefit."

Maury sailed around South America's Cape Horn, writing, "The Navigation of Cape Horn," published in the American Journal of Sciences and the Arts.
Maury wrote the Gulf Stream:
"If the current of the sea, with this four-mile velocity at the surface, and this hundreds of tons pressure in its depths, were permitted to chafe against its bed, the Atlantic, instead of being two miles deep and 3,000 miles broad, would ... have been long ago cut down into a narrow channel that might have been as the same ocean turned up on edge, and measuring two miles broad and 3,000 miles deep.
But had it been so cut, the proportion of land and water surface would have been destroyed and the winds, for lack of area to play upon, could not have sucked up from the sea vapors for the rains to form and the face of the earth would have become as a desert without water."

Of the ocean, Maury wrote:
"(God set) ... bars and doors to stay its proud waves; and who gave the sea His decree that its waters should not pass His command. He laid the foundations of the world so fast they should not be moved forever."
Engraved on Matthew Fontaine Maury's tombstone at the U.S. Naval Academy is the verse which had inspired him from Psalm 8:
"Whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."
Named for him are:
  • Maury Hall at the University of Virginia;
  • Maury Hall at the College of William and Mary;
  • Maury Hall at James Madison University;
  • Maury Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis;
  • USS Maury was the name of several ships;
  • Matthew Fontaine Maury High School is Norfolk, Virginia;
  • Maury Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia;
  • Lake Maury in Newport News, Virginia;
  • Maury River in Rockbridge County, Virginia; and
  • Maury Crater on the Moon.
  • Matthew Fontaine Maury Oceanographic Library, the world's foremost military collection of physical oceanography materials, located at the Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center, MS.
On November 30, 1860, thirteen years before his death, Matthew Fontaine Maury had laid the cornerstone for the University of East Tennessee, stating:
"I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography.
The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches.
What would you think of the historian who should refuse to consult the historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history? ..."
Maury continued:
"The Bible is true and science is true, and therefore each, if truly read, but proves the truth of the other.
The agents in the physical economy of our planet are ministers of Him who made both it and the Bible.
The records which He has chosen to make through the agency of these ministers of His upon the crust of the earth are as true as the records which by the hands of His prophets and servants, He has been pleased to make in the Book of Life ...
They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it, the fault is not with the witness of His records, but with the worm who essays to interpret evidence which he does not understand."
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