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Richard Henry Dana Jr. Books In Order

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Publication Order of Collections

Two Years Before the Mast and Twenty-Four Years After (1909)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Volume I (With: Robert F. Lucid) (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Volume II (With: Robert F. Lucid) (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Poems and Prose Writings. (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Speeches in Stirring Times and Letters to a Son (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Speeches and Writings of Richard H. Dana Jr. (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Journal of Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Volume III (With: Robert F. Lucid) (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Richard Henry Dana, Collection Novels (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lectures on Art, and Poems (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Seaman's Friend: A Treatise on Practical Seamanship (1840)Description / Buy at Amazon
Two Years Before The Mast (1840)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hospitable England in the Seventies: The Diary of a Young American, 1875-1876 (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Directory of Sea Terms (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Elements of International Law (With: Henry Wheaton) (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Tribute To Judge Sprague (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Argument of Richard H. Dana, Jr.: On Behalf of the United States (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
To Cuba and Back (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dana's Seaman's Friend (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Autobiographical Sketch (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sea Scripts: A salty collection of 25 classic maritime tales(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Richard Henry Dana is a literary fiction author who is best known for his work “Two Years Before the Mast.” The author was born in 1815 in Cambridge, Massachusetts into a family that first came into the US in 1640.
As a kid, he studied under Samuel Barret who was a strict schoolmaster in Cambridgepoirt. Alongside him was James Russell Lowell, the future writer and fellow native of Cambridge.

The schoolmaster was a strict disciplinarian that used to flog his students for any little infraction. He also loved to pull the ears of his students and at one time nearly pulled off Dana’s ear, that he nearly got into blows with his father.
In 1825, he enrolled in a Ralph Waldo Emerson-run private school and he had nothing but praise for the man who he described as a very good teacher, even if his discipline system did not promote vigorous and regular study.
After graduation, he enrolled at Harvard but was suspended for at least half a year after he was involved in a student protest.

In his junior year, he got ophthalmia after a severe case of measles, and his weakened vision inspired him to leave college and embark on a sea voyage.

Unlike what most people would do, Richard Henry Dana did not go on a “Grand Tour of Europe” instead enlisting as a common sailor, despite being from the high class.

It was in 1834 that he boarded the brig, Pilgrim that left Boston on a voyage that would go around Cape Horn and then up the coast of Califronia, which was still a possession of Mexico at that time.

Traveling on the 86.5-foot long and 180-ton ship, he visited several settlements in the remote state such as San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Juan Capistrano.
After disembarking from the ship, he moved back to Massachusetts on another ship after spending at least two years away from home.

During his voyage, he kept a diary and it was from this that he would then write the manuscript for his 1840 published work “Two Years Before the Mast.”

His writing showcases how he was exposed to injustice and how he started to empathize with the oppressed.

At some point, he documents how he witnessed a flogging aboard “The Pilgrim” and vowed that he would do everything within his power to help improve the plight of common sailors.

Following his long absence, Richard Henry Dana went back to Harvard where he graduated with excellent prizes and grades in 1837.

He would then attend Harvard’s “Dane Law School” where he studied with Professor Simon Greenleaf and Judge Joseph Story. In 1840, he graduated from law school and got employment at the “Charles Greely Loring” law offices.
In 1854, he represented former slave Anthony Burns, who famously lost his case against being returned to slavery.

After practicing for several years, he would become a renowned lawyer who specialized in maritime law, as he defended common sailors.

One of his most popular works at this time was “The Seaman’s Friend” which would become the standard text on the legal responsibilities and rights of seamen.

In 1852, he lived next to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who described him as a man who was obsessed with politics.

He was the founder of the “Free Soil Party,” and went to the 1853 constitutional convention in Massachusetts, and in 1855, he helped establish the “Massachusetts Republican Party.”

While many in the “Free Soil Party” knew him as a conservative, he was more of a radical outside it. By the early 1860s, he was so well known in political circles that he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts by President Lincoln.
He has also run for Congress and was nominated for the post of Ambassador to Great Britain but the Senate blocked his confirmation.

He got married to his wife Sarah Watson in 1841 and together they had six children.

In 1878, he left his law practice as a present to his son Richard Henry Dana III. He then moved to Paris with his wife where he lived for several years before he moved to Rome. It was in Rome that he spent the rest of his life until his death in 1882.

Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast” tells the story of the author as a young man from Harvard who signed up to become a common sailor.

He boarded the brig “Pilgrim” that was heading to Boston from California, hoping it would improve his health. It is not the smoothest journey as he has to deal with terrible food, a malevolent captain, and rolling seas.
Their journey over the icy and treacherous waters of Cape Horn and a power-hungry captain who flogs the sailors for the least infraction, make for a cruel and unusual voyage.

He spent about two years working hard, hauling hides on the coast of Califronia, which was a remote place that was then still a part of Mexico.
Much of the success of the novel has to do with its rich complexity.

Richard wrote a part memoir part diary work about his passages into full manhood. It is also a muckraking polemic that exposes the virtual slavery, injustices, and indignities that merchant sailors had to endure.

“To Cuba and Back” by Richard Henry Dana is a riveting travelogue that dives deep into the character of pre-Spanish-American War Cuba. It provides informative perspectives on agriculture, climate, island sociology, slavery, and Caribbean history.
The work is set in 1887 Cuba, which is a very unique era as the Cubans of the time feel the heavy colonial hand of Spain.

As a colonial possession, Cuba was subjected to high taxes, most of which were supporting the massive bureaucracy that had been appointed to rule the island by Spain.

Mr. Dana is a good chronicler and observer of what happened in the late 19th century and writes a work well worth reading if you are interested in the colonial Caribbean of the 1800s.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Richard Henry Dana Jr.

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