Peter Buell Porter (1773-1844) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College in 1791. After studying law, Porter began his practice in Canandaigua, Ontario County. Shortly thereafter, he embarked on a political career and came to exercise significant influence over in New York. He was a member of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Commission on Inland Navigation in 1810. He was also head of the law firm of Porter, Barton & Company – securing a monopoly on the transportation of goods across Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair, Huron, and Michigan.
His business experience led him to favor internal improvements on the national level. As a member of the House of Representatives, he secured federal funding for roads and canals. He also served as the chairman of the House Select Committee on Foreign Relations at the beginning of the 1812 war. Porter's belief in American expansionism is evidenced by his enthusiastic support for a war with Great Britain. He saw economic opportunity in Upper Canada, which he wanted to invade and add to the American republic before beginning a campaign against Montreal and Quebec.
During the War of 1812, Porter served as quartermaster general of the New York State Militia, but was highly critical of failed military operations along the Niagara Frontier. He later raised a contingent of militia, including volunteers from the Six Nations, which he led with distinction during the Battles of Chippewa and at Fort Niagara.
He continued in politics after the war, serving as Secretary of State of New York and later as President John Quincy Adam's Secretary of War.
SUBMITTED BY: NYSM Intern Kaylee Steck (University of Chicago)