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Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Legal Papers, 1844-1878

Collection Description (cont.)


Dana and Parker practiced law together until 1861, when Dana was appointed United States District Attorney for Massachusetts. Dana held this post from 1861 to 1866 and handled many cases arising from the Civil War, including several dealing with the assignment of prizes for captured Southern ships.

Dana returned to private practice in 1866, although he had carried on a few private cases during the war. In the same year, he was elected a representative in the Massachusetts legislature, where he served until 1868. In 1866 he also published a new edition of Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law; he was subsequently sued for plagiarism by a previous editor of the work, William Beach Lawrence (1800-1881). Dana ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress in 1868. He retired from legal practice in 1878, and died in Rome on 6 January 1882.

This collection consists of Dana's files for more than six hundred of his cases from about 1844 to 1878. The files generally include documents retained by Dana's office and contain a wide variety of materials. Most common are Dana's notes on his arguments and on the statements of witnesses, but other items such as statements, depositions, summonses, correspondence, receipts, and papers gathered as evidence are also present. Copies of printed briefs and points frequently accompany cases argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or federal courts. There are also some newspaper clippings pertaining to the cases.

The files were numbered in a roughly chronological sequence in Dana's office, and the collection is arranged in this same order. The numbers do not correspond to court docket numbers, and many numbers are absent. However, and it is not clear whether the missing numbers represent cases handled by Dana or by his partner, Francis E. Parker. There are no materials from Dana's involvement in the Anthony Burns rendition case in 1854, or from the plagiarism suit brought against Dana by William Beach Lawrence in 1866.

See Contents List.

18 July 1996 revised 19 September 2006

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