David Conner was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1792. After youthful employment in Philadelphia, he became a U.S. Navy Midshipman early in 1809 and during the next few years served in the frigate President. In 1811 Midshipman Conner joined the sloop of war Hornet, serving in her for all of the War of 1812 except for a time as a prisoner of war early in the conflict. He participated in Hornet's two most significant combat actions, that with HMS Peacock in February 1813 and the March 1815 capture of HMS Penguin and received promotion to Lieutenant in July 1813.
In the decade following war, Lieutenant Conner served in the Pacific, had shore duty at Philadelphia and commanded the schooner Dolphin. Attaining the rank of Commander in March 1825, he was Commanding Officer of the sloops of war Erie and John Adams before receiving promotion to Captain in 1835. In 1841 he became one of the Navy Commissioners and was later Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair. Late in 1843 he took command of the West India and Home squadrons. Commodore Conner led U.S. Navy Forces in the Gulf of Mexico during the first months of the Mexican War in 1846-1847. During this time he was responsible for amphibious operations against several coastal towns and for the successful landing of the U.S. Army at Vera Cruz in March 1847.
Leaving seagoing service soon afterwards, Conner subsequently commanded the Philadelphia Navy Yard . However, ill health kept him from seeing much other active employment. Commodore Conner died at Philadelphia on 20 March 1856.
The U.S. Navy has named two destroyers in honor of David Conner, including: USS Conner (Destroyer # 72, later DD-72) of 1918-1940; and USS Conner (DD-582) of 1943-1959.
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