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Francis Dana


Among the framers of the Articles of Confederation, the following delegates represented Massachusetts : John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, James Lovell, and Samuel Holten. We have already given biographies of Hancock, Adams, and Gerry, among those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Francis Dana was born in Massachusetts in 1743. His parents were wealthy and respectable, and gave him the benefit of an excellent education. Young Dana graduated at Harvard College in 1762, and then turned his attention to the study of the law. On being admitted to the bar, Mr. Dana went to England, where he remained one year, and then returned and began the practice of his profession. His learning and ability secured him speedy success.
   At the commencement of the troubles occasioned by the arbitrary and oppressive measures of the British Parliament, Mr. Dana manifested a decided partiality for the cause of the colonists, and was a valuable acquisition to the ranks of the patriots. In 1776, he was elected to a seat in the Continental Congress, and he continued to be an active member of that body until 1779. He was one of the committee appointed by Congress to consider the conciliatory propositions of the British commissioners, Messrs. Johnson and Eden; but nothing was effected by the negotiation.
   In 1779, Mr. Dana accompanied John Adams to France as secretary of legation. In 1780, he was appointed minister to Prussia, and although not publicly received as such, he remained there until the close of the war. He then returned to America, and in 1784 was elected to a seat in Congress. In 1792, Mr. Dana was appointed chief-justice of Massachusetts, and he continued to discharge the grave duties of that office until 1806, when he resigned. This eminent servant of the public died in 1811, at the age of sixty-eight years. His character was estimable in every respect;--it was that of a firm patriot, an upright judge, and a cheerful domestic companion.

Source: Marshall, James V.. The United States Manual of Biography and History. Philadelphia: James B. Smith & Co., 1856. Pages 132 and 133.


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Last modified January 2, 2004