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Richard Henry Dana

 

Date Born: 8/1/1815
Place of Birth: Cambridge, MA USA

Date Died: 1/6/0
Place of Death: Rome, Italy


Richard Henry Dana Jr. (August 1, 1815 - January 6, 1882) was an American lawyer and politician, most famous for his classic book Two Years Before the Mast.

Dana was born into one of the first families of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard College. Rather than going on a Grand Tour of Europe, in 1834 he left Harvard to enlist as a common sailor on a voyage around Cape Horn to the then-remote (and owned by Mexico) California, on the brig Pilgrim, returning to Massachusetts two years later. Having trouble with his vision after a bout of the measles, he thought the trip might help his failing sight. He kept a diary, and after the trip wrote Two Years Before the Mast based on his experiences. The term "before the mast" refers to sailor's quarters -- in the forecastle, in the front of the ship, the officers dwelling near the stern. His writing evidences his later social feeling for the oppressed. After his sea voyage, he returned to Harvard, completing his education and becoming a famous lawyer, and an expert on maritime law, many times defending common seamen. Later he became a prominent abolitionist, helping to found the anti-slavery Free Soil Party in 1848. He died in Rome. The city of Dana Point, California, located on the Pacific coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, is named for him.

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Books by Richard Henry Dana on Riapress.com

Two Years Before the Mast

By: Richard Henry Dana


A Boston Brahmin escapes his comfortable life by serving as a common sailor on a voyage up the pre-gold rush west coast.


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Related Books on Riapress.com

Omoo

By: Herman Melville


A ragged crew of whalers mutinees in Tahiti, as observed by a cynical, modernly comic, seaman.


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Typee

By: Herman Melville


A young sailor jumps ship in the South Pacific, in Melvile's first book. A 19th-century page turner, Typee was far more popular in Melville's lifetime than his masterpiece Moby Dick.


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White Jacket

By: Herman Melville


Published in 1850, White Jacket is both a retelling of Melville's adventures as a seaman on the man-of-war United States and an expose of naval practices of which the public was only dimly aware.


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Redburn

By: Herman Melville


Drawn from Melville's own adolescent experience Redburn charts the coming-of-age of Wellingborough Redburn, a young innocent who embarks on a crossing to Liverpool together with a roguish crew.


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Mardi, Volume I

By: Herman Melville




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Mardi, Volume II

By: Herman Melville




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Walden; and, Civil Disobedience

By: Henry David Thoreau





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Moby Dick

By: Herman Melville


Ishmael signs onto the whaler Pequod, led by Ahab, who turns the voyage into an obsessive quest for revenge against the whale who took his leg.


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The House of Seven Gables

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne




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The Scarlet Letter

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne




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The Blithedale Romance

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne




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Author Bibliography

Books by Richard Henry Dana:
Two Years Before the Mast, To Cuba and Back, and Journal of a Voyage Round the World are available in a single edition from the Library of America series.

Poems. The Literature House, NJ: 1970. First edition: Bowles and Dearborn, 1827.
The Seaman's Friend, Containing a Treatise on Practical Seamanship, with Plates; A Dictionary of Sea Terms; Customs and Usages of the Merchant Service; Laws Relating to the Practical Duties of Master and Mariners. Dover, NY:  1997. Reprint of 1879 edition.
Cruelty to Seamen: being the Case of Nichols & Couch [date unknown]
An Autobiographical Sketch, 1815-1842. The Shoe String Press, USA: 1953.
Twenty-Four Years After, 1869 is available in many of the newer editions of Two Years Before the mast.
The Journal of Richard Henry Dana,
Robert F. Lucid, editor. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge: 1968.
Hospitable England in the Seventies: The Diary of a Young American, 1875-1876.
Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and NY: 1921.

Books about Richard Henry Dana:
Adams, Charles Francis, Richard Henry Dana: A Biogrpahy. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1890.
Shapiro, Samuel, Richard Henry Dana. Michigan State University, East Lansing: 1961.