Farragut, of Hispanic descent, was born the son of a career naval officer. His mother died in 1808, and from the age of nine he never saw his father (who died in 1817) again. He was adopted in 1810 by David Porter, the American naval officer who won fame as the commander of the Essex during the War of 1812, a family friend to whom his father sent him after his mother died.
He entered the US Navy at the age of nine. His adoptive brother was another naval officer, David Dixon Porter. Farragut was a captain on the Union side in the American Civil War and the two brothers took part in the bombardment of New Orleans in 1862. Farragut was the first rear-admiral of the US Navy, a position created for him by Congress in 1862. In 1995 the US Postal Service honored him with a 32-cent stamp.
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