Richard Henry Dana

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Dana, Richard Henry,

1787–1879, American poet and essayist, b. Cambridge, Mass.; son of Francis Dana. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1811. Critic and poet, Dana was a founder and editor of the North American Review and also contributed to other periodicals. His best-known poem, The Buccaneer, appeared in 1827. See his collected Poems and Prose Writings (1850). His son, Richard Henry Dana, 1815–82, b. Cambridge, Mass., was also a writer and a lawyer. After spending two years (1831–33) at Harvard, he shipped as a common sailor around Cape Horn to California. The narrative of this voyage, published as Two Years before the Mast (1840), was written to secure justice for the sailor and has become an American classic of the days of sailing ships. Returning to Harvard, Dana graduated in 1837 and entered law practice. He handled many maritime cases and published The Seaman's Friend (1841), a standard manual of maritime law. Active in politics, he helped found the Free-Soil party.


See his journal, ed. by R. F. Lucid (3 vol., 1968); biography by C. F. Adams (1890).

Dana, Richard Henry

(1815–82) author, lawyer; born in Cambridge Mass. The son of poet and essayist Richard Henry Dana (1787–1879), he took time off from Harvard College to work as a seaman on a merchant ship (1834–36); his account of his adventures, Two Years Before the Mast (1840) is regarded as a minor classic of its genre. His The Seaman's Friend (1841), was long the standard manual on maritime law. He practiced law and in 1867–68 served as a U.S. counsel in the trial of Jefferson Davis. He never completed his own planned study of international law but he edited Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law. Although not an avid abolitionist, he helped found the Free-Soil Party. He died while in Rome where he is buried in the Protestant Cemetery with Keats and Shelley.