Richard Henry Dana III (1851-1931)

November 28, 2011

Richard Henry Dana III, Massachusetts lawyer and reformer, was born in Cambridge on January 3, 1851.

Dana was the grandson of Richard Henry Dana Sr., founder of the North American Review, and son of Richard Henry Dana Jr., an abolitionist and author of the seafaring tale Two Years Before the Mast. He spent the summers of his youth at the seaside with his family, reading and engaging in literary conversations. Dana graduated from Harvard in 1874 and pursued civil service reform, inspired by his father.

He traveled abroad in 1875-76 and entered Harvard Law School upon his return. He established the Associated Charities of Boston alongside Annie Fields (Lot #2700 Elder Path) in 1877. In the same year, Dana entered the reputable law office of Brooks, Ball, and Storey. Dana married Edith Longfellow the following year, and spent a great deal of time with her father, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The family moved to 113 Brattle Street in 1887, onto property adjacent to Longfellow’s. Dana’s law practice suffered while he dedicated himself to reform work. He worked to regulate the accounting of election expenses and instituted the Australian secret ballot system in Massachusetts and New York. After 32 years of work in President Wilson’s League of Nations, Dana became president of the National Civil Service Reform League.

On a local level, Dana worked on behalf of clean politics, clean water, and controlled liquor trade. He donated his time and administrative abilities to organizations such as the Episcopal Theological School, the Boston YMCA, and the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1905 he was elected president of the Cambridge Historical Society.

In 1913 he wrote the deed of trust that bequeathed the city of Boston with the land between the Longfellow House and the Charles River, so that it could be used as a park. Dana died in 1931 following an attack of angina, and was buried in the Dana family lot.

Richard Henry Dana III

Richard Henry Dana III’s grave can be found at Lot #4863, Jonquil Path.

Adapted from the research of Judy Jackson and Laura Gosman, as published in Mount Auburn’s Person of the Week: Richard Henry Dana III, 2001.

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