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Francis Dana of Massachusetts

June 13, 1743
Francis Dana of Massachusetts Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Francis Dana of Massachusetts served in early Continental Congresses before an appointment as minister to Russia.
On this date, Delegate Francis Dana was born in 1743 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Dana served in the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1778, and again in 1784, and was one of the original signers of the Articles of Confederation in 1778. He also served in a number of diplomatic posts for the emerging United States during and after the Revolution. He worked as secretary alongside John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay on the peace commission which negotiated an end to the American Revolution against Great Britain. In late 1780 the Continental Congress appointed Dana minister to Russia, and he hired a young John Quincy Adams as his secretary. But after their arrival, Russia’s emperor, Catherine the Great, refused to recognize America, then in its infancy, as a sovereign nation. Dana left Russia in 1783, and returned home to Massachusetts which chose him to serve at the Annapolis Convention in 1786 as well as the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia. In both cases, however, ill health prevented him from attending the proceedings. Although he had not been able to help draft America’s founding document, he helped approve the Constitution as a member of the Massachusetts ratification convention. From 1791 until his retirement in 1806, Dana served as chief justice of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He died five years later in 1811.

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