Dana, Richard Henry

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).

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