Sue Young Histories

Charles Anderson Dana 1819 - 1897

March 05, 2008

Charles Anderson Dana 1819 -
1897Charles Anderson Dana 1819 - 1897, Boston Brahmin, was the editor of The New York Sun, an author, and government official during the American Civil War.

Dana was an active campaigner and patron of homeopathy (John S. Haller, The History of American Homeopathy: the academic years, 1820-1935. (Routledge, 2005). Page 133) alongside Horace Greeley. Dana was a friend of James John Garth Wilkinson (The utopian alternative: Fourierism in nineteenth-century America. Carl J. Guarneri. Cornell University Press, 1994. Many pages. And Clement John Wilkinson, James John Garth Wilkinson; A Memoir of His Life, with a Selection of His Letters. (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co, 1911). Page 26)

While attending Harvard, Dana had developed a strong admiration for the radical social aims of George Ripley and his wife Sophia. Dana became interested in transcendentalism and Utopianism and he wrote articles, editorials, reviews, and poetry for the Brook Farm organs, The Dial_ _which subsequently became The Harbinger; he also became acquainted with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Henry Channing, Margaret Fuller, and Horace Greeley, George William Curtis, Theodore Parker, John Sullivan Dwight and other philosophers more or less directly concerned in the remarkable attempt to realize at Roxbury a high ideal of social and intellectual life.

Dana lived with the transcendentalist Utopian community at Brook Farm from September 1841 until March 1846 he where he was made one of the trustees of the farm, was head waiter when the farm became a Fourierite phalanx, and was in charge of the phalanx’s finances when its buildings were burned in 1846.

Dana had written for (and managed) _The Harbinger_, the Brook Farm publication, and had written as early as 1844 for the Boston Chronotype. In 1847 he joined the staff of the New York Tribune, and in 1848 he wrote from Europe letters to it and other papers on the revolutionary movements of that year.

Returning to the Tribune in 1849, Dana became its managing editor, and in this capacity actively promoted the anti-slavery cause, seeming to shape the paper’s policy at a time when Horace Greeley was undecided and vacillating. The board of managers of the Tribune asked for Dana’s resignation in 1862, apparently because of wide temperamental differences between him and Greeley.

When Dana left the Tribune, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton immediately made him a special investigating agent of the War Department. In this capacity Dana discovered frauds of quartermasters and contractors, and as the eyes of the administration, as Abraham Lincoln called him, he spent much time at the front, and sent to Stanton frequent reports concerning the capacity and methods of various generals in the field.

In particular, the War Department was concerned about rumors of Ulysses S Grant’s alcoholism and Dana spent considerable time with him, becoming a close friend and assuaging administration concerns.

Dana went through the Vicksburg Campaign and was at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and urged the placing of Ulysses S Grant in supreme command of all the armies in the field, which happened in March 1864.

Dana was Second Assistant Secretary of War in 1864–1865. In 1865–1866, Dana conducted the newly established and unsuccessful Chicago Republican (Mark Twain_ _was a special correspondant for the Chicago Republican)_. He became the editor and part-owner of the _New York Sun in 1868, and remained in control of it until his death.

A close friend of Horace Greeley for fifteen years, Dana fought the abolitionist campaigns alongside Horace Greeley and Dana supported Horace Greeley’s attempts to become elected into political office.:

In 1862, after a 15-year association, Dana and Greeley had a major falling-out and Dana was fired. The Civil War was raging, and Dana went to work for the Union government in various capacities, rising to assistant secretary of war under Edwin Stanton.

He left the government in 1865 to become editor of a short-lived Chicago paper and then raised enough money among prominent Republicans in New York City to buy the failing New York Sun.

Dana made the “Sun” a democratic newspaper, independent and outspoken in the expression of its opinions respecting the affairs of either party.

His criticisms of civil maladministration during General Grant’s terms as president led to a notable attempt on the part of that administration, in July 1873, to take him from New York on a charge of libel, to be tried without a jury in a Washington police court.

Application was made to the U. S. district court in New York for a warrant of removal; but in a memorable decision Judge Blatchford, now a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, refused the warrant, holding the proposed form of trial to be unconstitutional.

Perhaps to a greater extent than in the case of any other conspicuous journalist, Mr. Dana’s personality is identified in the public mind with the newspaper that he edits. He has recorded no theories of journalism other than those of common sense and human interest. He is impatient of prolixity, cant, and the conventional standards of news importance.

Mr. Dana’s first book was a volume of stories translated from the German, entitled The Black Ant (in the New American Cyclopaedia written with George Ripley. With James Harrison Wilson he wrote a Life of Ulysses S. Grant. His Household Book of Poetry has passed through many editions. He also edited, with Rossiter Johnson, Fifty Perfect Poems.


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