Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Dana, Richard
|←Dana, Stephen Winchester||Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
|Edition of 1900. See also Richard Dana (lawyer), Francis Dana, Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Richard Henry Dana, Jr. and Edmund Trowbridge Dana on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. George Parsons Lathrop wrote the section on Richard Henry Dana, and James Grant Wilson wrote the section on Richard Henry Dana, Jr.|
DANA, Richard, jurist, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 7 July, 1699; d. 17 May, 1772. He was the third son of Daniel, who was the son of Richard, who came from England, settled in Cambridge in 1640, and died there about 1695. He was graduated at Harvard in 1718, studied law, practised in Marblehead and Charlestown, and then removed to Boston and became one of the leaders of the bar of Massachusetts. During the critical period that preceded the Revolution he took a prominent part in the protests against the new and oppressive taxes imposed by the British parliament and the appointment of highly paid crown officials, and was a leader in the popular resistance to the usurpations of the British government. He occasionally presided over the Boston town-meetings between 1763 and 1772, was chairman of the committee chosen by the town in 1765 to give instructions to the representatives in the general court with reference to the stamp-act and other new taxes, for the collection of which revenue officers had been sent over from England, and reported the instructions to the representatives of Boston on 20 Nov., 1767, and 8 May, 1770. He was a member of the association of the Sons of Liberty, and at the meeting of 17 Dec., 1769, administered to Andrew Oliver, secretary of the province, an oath binding him not to execute the stamp-act. After the British soldiery fired on the people in the night of 5 March, 1770, he was appointed on a committee to investigate the incidents of the massacre and the order in which they occurred. He took depositions of respectable citizens who had heard threats from the soldiers some days previous to the tragedy, and who swore that the soldiers under Capt. Preston attacked the citizens with violence; that after some of the latter had been struck, young men and boys returned abusive language, and some threw snowballs and pieces of ice at the soldiers; that these fired into the crowd, killing and mortally wounding several persons, when there was no danger to themselves; and that therefore the firing could not have been in self-defence, and was unjustifiable. (See Attucks, Crispus.) Mr. Dana was at one time during the ante-Revolutionary crisis a representative from Boston in the assembly, but he generally declined office, devoting himself exclusively to his profession, except when the call of patriotism impelled him to take a public stand in the cause of liberty. The letters of leading patriots contain mention of him as a man of great value in the movement, and of his death as a serious loss to the cause. He was at the head of the Boston bar, and is more frequently cited in Judge Story's work on American precedents than any other pleader except Judge Trowbridge, whose sister he married in 1737. — His son, Francis, jurist, b. in Charlestown, Mass., 13 June, 1743; d. in Cambridge, Mass., 25 April, 1811, was graduated at Harvard in 1762, studied law with Edmund Trowbridge, then regarded as the ablest lawyer in the province, was admitted to the bar in 1767, and practised in Boston. He devoted himself early to the cause of colonial rights and popular liberty, joined the associated Sons of Liberty, in whose discussions he took a leading part, and became an active whig. In 1769 he was counsel in the famous Lechmere slave case. In 1773 he was associated with John Adams in the prosecution in behalf of the Rhode Island patriots in the matter of the Rome and Moffatt letters. When Gov. Hutchinson sailed on 1 June, 1774, the Boston bar sent an address to the retiring governor, which Dana, though one of the youngest of them, opposed with vigor. In September, 1774, he was the delegate from Cambridge to the 1st provincial congress of Massachusetts. In the beginning of April, 1775, he sailed for England (where his brother Edmund was settled as a minister at Wroxeter), bearing confidential letters on the critical state of colonial feeling from Josiah Quincy, Joseph Warren, Dr. Samuel Cooper, and other patriots. Through his brother, who was allied by marriage with the Kinnaird and Pulteney families, he came in contact with persons of political influence in England, and in April, 1776, after his return, he informed Washington that there was no reason to expect peace from Britain. While in England he became acquainted with Dr. Richard Price, and furnished him with information which he embodied in his work in defence of the colonies (London, 1776). In May, 1776, he was chosen by the Massachusetts assembly a member of the executive council, which united executive with legislative functions, and was re-elected annually until 1780. In November, 1776, he was chosen a delegate from Massachusetts to the continental congress, and took part in framing the articles of confederation, and was again sent to the congress of 1778, and made chairman of the committee charged with the reorganization of the army. He remained in the camp at Valley Forge with Joseph Reed, Gouverneur Morris, and other members of the committee from January till April, 1778, and, in consultation with Gen. Washington, drew up the plan of annual drafts that was submitted to congress, and returned to the commander-in-chief on 4 June, with directions that he should proceed with it, with the advice and assistance of Messrs. Reed and Dana, or either of them. He served with Gouverneur Morris and William H. Drayton on the committee to which Lord North's conciliatory bills were referred in 1778, on whose report these overtures were unanimously rejected, and the intended effect of the peace commission frustrated. Gov. Johnstone, with whom he had become acquainted in England, was one of the commission, and wrote to him in the hope of securing his co-operation. This letter, with others received by Reed and Robert Morris, was transmitted to congress on 18 July. On 29 Sept., 1779, Mr. Dana was appointed secretary to the embassy of John Adams, who was appointed commissioner to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain. He sailed with Mr. Adams, on 13 Nov., 1779, in the French frigate “Sensible.” They landed at Ferrol, Spain, and reached Paris 9 Feb., 1780. When Adams, in consequence of a diplomatic quarrel with Vergennes, left Paris for Amsterdam on 27 July, Dana remained in Paris until the commission of congress (to Mr. Adams, and eventually to himself, to raise loans in Europe) readied him on 12 Sept. He then joined Adams in Amsterdam, and remained with him till December. Returning to Paris, he received, on 15 March, 1781, a commission from congress as minister to the court of St. Petersburg, having been appointed to that post on 18 Dec., 1780. He remained with Mr. Adams in Holland from April till 7 July, when he left for St. Petersburg, journeying by way of Frankfort and Berlin. He resided at the Russian court two years, where he had frequent and friendly communications with Count Ostermann, the foreign minister, but was unable to secure the recognition of the independence of the United States. When, even after the signature of the preliminaries of peace, the government of the Empress Catherine still refused to receive him as an accredited minister of an independent and friendly power, he asked for his leave from congress, and departed from St. Petersburg on 4 Sept., 1783, sailing direct to Boston, where he arrived in December. In February, 1784, he was elected by the assembly a delegate to the continental congress, took his seat on 24 May, and was appointed to represent Massachusetts on the committee of the states, which was vested with some of the powers of congress during the recess, and continued in session till 11 Aug. On 18 Jan., 1785, Gov. Hancock appointed him a justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts. On 29 Aug., 1786, he was elected a delegate to the Annapolis convention, which fixed the time and place for the Federal convention of 1787 that adopted the constitution of the United States. He was also elected a delegate to this body on 9 April, 1787, but was prevented from attending by his judicial duties and the state of his health, which had been impaired by his residence in St. Petersburg. He was chosen a member of the Massachusetts state convention that met in January, 1788, to ratify the Federal constitution. In that body, on whose decision depended the fate of the Federal constitution, a majority of the members were at first opposed to the new form of government. Judge Dana labored to secure the ratification of the constitution with John Hancock, Theophilus Parsons, and others, and aided in obtaining a majority for its adoption on 6 Feb., 1788. On 29 Nov., 1791, after the death of Judge Sargent, he was appointed chief justice of Massachusetts, and held that office for fifteen years, during which he took no part in political affairs, except as a presidential elector in 1792 and 1800. On 5 June, 1797, President Adams appointed him a special envoy to the French republic, with Cotesworth Pinckney and John Marshall; but he was compelled, by the precarious state of his health, to decline the office, which was then given to Elbridge Gerry. He retired from the bench in 1806, and was succeeded by his friend, Theophilus Parsons. He vigorously opposed Jefferson's embargo in public speeches at Cambridge, but seldom took part after that in public discussions. He was one of the founders of the American academy of arts and sciences, and interested himself in enterprises for the benefit of the neighborhood of Boston. After his retirement he was frequently visited at his house by the old leaders of the Federal party who had been his associates in political life, and entertained the younger literary society of Cambridge. Judge Dana possessed a large fortune, chiefly in lands. He was a typical representative of the Federal gentry of New England, who looked upon themselves as the guardians of the people, and sought to preserve distinctions of birth and station. He possessed a high sense of honor and of public duty, was ardent and passionate in temperament, intolerant of timid or temporizing measures, of an active and energetic character, remarkable for his nervous and impressive eloquence, an acute and learned jurist, and an austere and dignified magistrate. —
Richard Henry, son of Francis, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 15 Nov., 1787; d. in Boston, 2 Feb., 1879, entered Harvard in the class of 1808, but took part in an insurrection of his class against the faculty, known as the “Rotten Cabbage Rebellion,” in 1807. The memory of this disturbance is still commemorated in the name of the “Rebellion tree,” standing on the college grounds. As a consequence of his revolt, he failed to complete his college course, although an excellent scholar; but fifty-eight years later he received his degree as of 1808. Removing to Newport, R. I., he continued his studies there for two years, then entered the law-office of his cousin, Francis Dana Channing, at Boston, and afterward went to Baltimore, Md., to familiarize himself with Maryland practice in the office of Robert Goodloe Harper. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1811, and settled in Cambridge, where he engaged in politics on the Federal side, and became a member of the legislature. In 1814 he joined the Anthology club, an association of gentlemen in Cambridge and Boston, including William Tudor, John Quincy Adams, and others, who had for some time conducted “The Monthly Anthology,” an unsuccessful magazine. They now projected and began to issue “The North American Review,” the first number of which appeared in May, 1815. Mr. Dana's first publications appeared in that periodical; among them were an “Essay on Old Times,” and a criticism of Hazlitt's “Lectures on the English Poets,” in which the writer boldly ventured to dispute the English critic's opinions. He also gave cordial recognition to Wordsworth's poems, an act of temerity which, in the then reigning taste for Pope, brought condemnation upon him. His association with Prof. E. T. Channing in the editorship of the “Review” was brought to a close in 1821. In 1821-'2 he published in New York, in six numbers, with the aid of contributions from Bryant and Allston, “The Idle Man,” a miscellany of stories, essays, criticisms, and poems, which had marked literary merit, but received little encouragement from the public, and was discontinued.
His first poem, “The Dying Raven,” written when he was thirty-eight years old, appeared in the “New York Review,” then edited by Bryant. He brought out his first volume of “Poems” in Boston in 1827, which was well received by the critics and found a limited audience. Prof. John Wilson, in “Blackwood's Magazine,” said of the leading poem: “We pronounce it by far the most powerful and original of American poetical compositions.” In 1833 “Poems and Prose Writings” (Boston) was issued, containing additional poems and Dana's own contributions to “The Idle Man.” A portion of this was republished in London in 1844 as “The Buccaneer, and other Poems.” Although his father had been a Unitarian, the son joined the Congregationalists in 1826, and wrote vigorously against Dr. Channing in “The Spirit of the Pilgrims” during the Trinitarian agitation in New England from 1825 till 1835. Subsequently he became an Episcopalian. In 1850 he brought out a new edition of “Poems and Prose Writings” in two volumes, including his essays and literary papers from the “North American Review,” forming a complete collection of his works. His further literary efforts were confined to a course of lectures on Shakespeare, which he delivered in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, in 1839-'40. The larger part of his career was spent in retirement from literary work, at his country-seat on Cape Ann (see illustration), and in Boston. For the first fifty years of his life he was an invalid, but after this his health began to mend, and for a number of years he was not only physically well, but maintained an intellectual vigor that remained unimpaired until within a few days of his death at the age of ninety-two. He had lived through the whole history of the United States under the constitution, and distinctly remembered the death of Washington. He was the last of his generation to achieve success in both prose and verse, and won high rank among the most vigorous American authors of the first half of the present century. He never became a popular writer, and his poetry is now little read; but it evinced decided qualities of imagination, reflection, and independence, without any noticeable gift of melody. His prose stories, “Tom Thornton” and “Paul Felton,” are gloomy in tone, but show vivid imagination and contain brief passages of great excellence. His essay on Kean's acting, in “The Idle Man,” and other of his critical essays, prove that he possessed a delicate, firm faculty of original criticism which, at the time when he wrote, was rare in the United States; and his place in the history of our literature should be measured by the important service that a mind like his was able to render in the general cultivation of public taste during the formative period. See “Homes of American Authors” (New York, 1855), and “Bryant and his Friends” (1886). — His son,
Richard Henry, lawyer, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 1 Aug., 1815; d. in Rome, Italy, 7 Jan., 1882. In early life, as he assured the writer, he had a strong passion for the sea, and, had he consulted his inclination only, he would have entered the American navy. But, influenced by his father and other members of the family, he became a student of Harvard university. Here he was exposed to one of those difficulties which college faculties put in the way of students by their mismanagement, and Dana, like his father, was rusticated. Returning to Harvard, he was compelled to suspend his studies by an affection of the eyes, finally graduating in 1837. In the mean time, for a remedy, recalling his early love of the sea, he resolved to rough it on a Pacific voyage as a sailor, although he had, of course, every facility for ordinary travel. He accordingly shipped before the mast as a seaman on the brig “Pilgrim,” of Boston, for a voyage round Cape Horn to the western coast of North America. During the cruise Dana performed with cheerfulness and spirit the duties of a common sailor, which he has charmingly described in his well-known work, “Two Years Before the Mast.” The manuscript was sent, in 1839, by the elder Dana to Bryant, who offered it to various New York publishers, and at last, although he said it was as good as “Robinson Crusoe,” sold it to the Harpers for $250. The work was issued in the following year. It was immediately successful, passing through numerous editions, being reprinted in England, where the Board of admiralty adopted it for distribution in the navy, and translated into several continental languages. This personal narrative of a sailor's life at sea is probably the most truthful and accurate work of its character ever published. “In reading it,” says Mr. Whipple, “anybody can see it is more than an ordinary record of a voyage, for there runs through the simple and lucid narrative an element of beauty and power which gives it the charm of romance.” The work was republished in 1869, with an additional chapter giving an account of a second visit to California, and some of the persons and vessels mentioned in the original edition. Mr. Dana studied law under Judge Story, and was admitted to the bar of Massachusetts in 1840, speedily attaining eminence as an advocate. In 1841 he published a work on sea-usages and laws, under the title of “The Seaman's Friend,” which has been reprinted in England as the “Seaman's Manual,” and in 1859 an account of a vacation trip, entitled “To Cuba and Back” (Boston). He occasionally contributed to the “North American Review,” the “Law Register,” and the “American Law Review,” and he prepared biographical sketches of his kinsmen, Prof. Edward Channing and Washington Allston. During the years 1859-'60 Mr. Dana made a tour round the world. Six years later, by request of the family of the late Henry Wheaton, he engaged in the preparation of a new edition of Wheaton's “International Law” (Boston, 1866), bringing up that standard work from 1848, when Mr. Wheaton died, to the time of the publication of the revised book. This task, which in many respects Mr. Dana performed successfully, entailed upon him much subsequent trouble. Some of his original annotations were regarded with particular favor, and his note on the neutrality laws of the United States and Great Britain was translated, by order of our government, to be used by the arbitrators in 1872. In 1866 Mr. Dana received the degree of LL. D. from Harvard college, and he lectured on international law in the Cambridge law-school in 1866-'7. He ran against Gen. Butler in the Essex district in 1868, and was defeated. This act on his part also led to subsequent annoyance. In March, 1876, Gen. Grant nominated Mr. Dana minister to England as successor to Gen. Schenck. At first there was no thought of any opposition, and it was regarded by the public with peculiar favor, but personal and private feelings soon began to exercise their influence. Great opposition to his confirmation arose chiefly through the exertions of Gen. Butler, who had not forgotten Mr. Dana's canvass against him as a candidate for congress, and of William Beach Lawrence, who charged that Mr. Dana had pirated the notes of his edition of “Wheaton's International Law.” It is unnecessary to review the dreary details of this literary controversy. Mr. Dana complained that the charges against him were made ex parte before the senate committee, while he was denied any opportunity of defence. The nomination Gen. Grant utterly refused to withdraw. The result was that it was rejected by a vote of thirty-one to seventeen. The controversy continued to rage even after the rejection, and attracted some notice abroad, several London journals characterizing the affair as “a paltry intrigue.” It is sufficient to say that if Mr. Dana erred in the matter, he did so unintentionally. He undoubtedly felt the indignity as deeply as it would be possible for any man to feel it, and if he unwittingly did Mr. Lawrence any wrong, he paid the penalty. In 1878 Mr. Dana went abroad for the purpose of pursuing his studies of international law, his intention being to publish an exhaustive work on that subject. He spent much time in Paris, and near the close of 1881 visited Rome. He joined a merry Christmas party of American friends, was taken ill the following day, and died of pneumonia, 7 Jan., 1882. Two days later the beautiful American Episcopal church in the Via Nationale was crowded with his countrymen, assembled to attend his funeral services. His remains were interred in the Protestant cemetery at Porte Pia, near those of the poets Keats and Shelley, and a monument has since been erected to his memory. Mr. Dana was a representative of the best culture of his native state, and had acquired a permanent reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. He had taken part in many of the most conspicuous litigations of the last half-century, and it is perhaps not too much praise to place him among the great lawyers of the land. His death, following closely on that of Mr. Lawrence, deprived the restricted circle of American writers on international law of their most brilliant leaders. As a diplomate he would doubtless have acquitted himself with as much success as those other men of Massachusetts — Everett, Abbott Lawrence, Adams, Motley, and Lowell — who represented the United States at the court to which he was appointed. Dana never had an opportunity of being known in the national councils of the country. Had he obtained a seat in the senate, he would have met there few men who were his superiors in knowledge of public affairs, in comprehension of the principles of statesmanship, or in the ability to engage in their discussion. — Richard Henry, son of the preceding, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 3 Jan., 1851, was graduated at Harvard in 1874, being chosen class orator, and at Harvard law-school in 1877. In that year he received from President Hayes the nomination of secretary of legation at London, but declined the office. He married Miss Edith Longfellow, second daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet, 6 Jan., 1878. While continuing the practice of law, he has been a regular contributor to the “Civil Service Record,” besides writing occasionally for the press on questions of political reform. — Another son of Richard Henry, Edmund Trowbridge, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 29 Aug., 1818; d. there, 18 May, 1869, was graduated at the University of Vermont in 1839, and at Cambridge law-school in 1841. Subsequently he practised in partnership with his brother, Richard, in Boston for several years, when failing health compelled him to reside in Europe, where he continued his studies, devoting special attention to Roman civil law, and to history and philosophy in their bearings upon law. In 1854 he received the degree of J.U.D. from the University of Heidelberg, and returned to the United States two years later. He wrote occasionally for periodicals, and attempted the translation of the works of Von Mohl and other eminent German jurists.