Dissatisfied with the slow progress of his career, by 1860 Porter was once again giving consideration to leaving the service for more promising civilian pursuits. Abraham Lincoln's election and the ensuing crisis altered the situation dramatically, however. In the spring of 1861, as the Union disintegrated, Porter, brash and ambitious, concocted a plan for reinforcing Fort Pickens at Pensacola and presented it to Secretary of State William Seward. Seward persuaded Lincoln to endorse the plan, and Porter was given command of the steamer Powhatan with orders to sail to the relief of Fort Pickens. When Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles learned that his department had been completely bypassed in this venture, he took immediate steps to stop the expedition. Porter boldly pushed ahead, defied his recall orders, sailed to Pickens, and provided reinforcement. Not surprisingly, from this point on Welles was always suspicious and distrustful of Porter. Thanks to his abilities and aggressiveness, Porter nonetheless soon became one of the darlings of the naval service and was promoted to commander.
William M. Fowler, "Porter, David Dixon," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00629.html.