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FRANCIS DANA (1743-1811)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 792 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANCIS DANA (1743-1811), American jurist, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on the 13th of June 1743. He was the son of Richard Dana (1699-1772), a leader of the Massachusetts provincial bar, and a vigorous advocate of colonial rights in the pre-revolutionary period. Francis Dana graduated at Harvard in 1762, was admitted to the bar in 1767, and, being an opponent of the British colonial policy, became a leader of the Sons of Liberty, and in 1774 was a member of the first pro-. vincial congress of Massachusetts. During a two years' visit to England he sought earnestly to gain friends to his colony's cause, but returned to Boston in April 1776 convinced that a friendly settlement of the dispute was impossible. He was a member of the Massachusetts executive council from 1776 to 1780, and a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1776 to 1778. As a member of the latter body he became chairman in January 1778 of the committee appointed to visit Washington at Valley Forge, and confer with him concerning the reorganization of the army. This committee spent about three months in camp, and assisted Washington in preparing the plan of reorganization which Congress in the main adopted. In this year he was also a member of a committee to consider Lord North's offer of conciliation, which he vigorously opposed. In the autumn of 1779 he was appointed secretary to John Adams, who had been selected as minister plenipotentiary to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, and in December 178o he was appointed diplomatic representative to the Russian government. He remained at St Petersburg from 1781 to 1783, but was never formally received by the empress Catherine. In February 1784 he was again chosen a delegate to Congress, and in January 1785 he became a justice of the Massachusetts supreme court. He was chief justice of this court from 1791 to 1806, and presided with ability and rare distinction. He was an earnest advocate of the adoption of the Federal constitution, was a member of the Massachusetts convention which ratified that instrument, and was one of the most influential advisers of the leaders of the Federalist party. His tastes were scholarly, and he was one of the founders of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 25th of April 1811. His son, RICHARD HENRY DANA (1787-1879), was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 15th of November 1787. Hewas educated at Harvard in the class of s8o8. Subsequently he studied law and in 1811 was admitted to practice. But all other interests were early subordinated to his love of literature, to which the greater part of his long life was devoted. He became in 1814 a member of a literary society in Cambridge, known as the Anthology Club. This club began the publication of a monthly magazine, The Monthly Anthology, which gave way in 1815 to The North American Review. In the editorial control of this periodical he was associated with Jared Sparks and Edward T. Charming (1790-1856) until 1821, contributing essays and criticisms which attracted wide attention. In 1821-1822 he edited in New York a short-lived literary magazine, The Idle Man. He published his first volume of Poems in 1827, and in 1833 appeared his Poems and Prose Writings, republished in 185o in two volumes, in which were included practically all of his poems and of his prose contributions to periodical literature. Although the bulk of his published writings was not large, his influence on American literature during the first half of the ,9th century was surpassed by that of few of his contemporaries.
End of Article: FRANCIS DANA (1743-1811)
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CHARLES ANDERSON DANA (1819–'897)
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JAMES DWIGHT DANA (1813-1895)

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