Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of the legal papers, extensive case notes, and correspondence of Nathan Dane, lawyer from Beverly, Mass. The papers include correspondence from the Proprietors of the Kennebec Purchase in Maine and other individuals and institutions for which Dane served as legal counsel, as well as letters from Gen. Henry Knox in regard to the Waldo Patent in Maine, and correspondence regarding the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corp., of which Dane was a director.
Nathan Dane (1752-1835) was born in Ipswich, Mass., the son of Daniel Dane and Abigail Burnham, and is the direct descendant of John Dane, who settled at Ipswich in 1638. Educated at Harvard, Dane became a teacher and eventually a lawyer in Beverly, Mass. and, in 1782, was elected to represent Beverly in the General Court of Massachusetts. He was re-elected three times and, in 1785, served as delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. In addition to serving on committees, he also helped draft the "Ordinance for the Government of the Northwest Territory." He opposed the Federal Constitution's final draft and retired from Congress to return to his practice in Beverly. In 1790, he was elected to the Massachusetts Senate, and he was re-elected annually from 1793-1798. Difficulty hearing forced him to leave his position in the state Senate, but he continued working and, in 1812, served on the commission which was appointed to revise and publish the Massachusetts Colonial and Provincial laws. By 1820, he was almost entirely deaf and devoted his time to two writing projects that he had been working on for a number of years. The first, "A Moral and Political Survey of America," a series of essays, was never published. The second, General Abridgment and Digest of American Law, with Occasional Notes and Comments, was published in eight volumes in 1823. During the last years of his life, he often spent twelve to fourteen hours a day in his library and never lost interest in learning. He died in Beverly at the age of 83.
The Nathan Dane papers consist of 18 boxes and 1 oversize box containing legal papers, extensive case notes, and correspondence of Nathan Dane, lawyer from Beverly, Mass. Much of the correspondence concerns the Proprietors of the Kennebec Purchase and other individuals and institutions for which Dane served as legal counsel. Charles Vaughan, agent, and Arodi Taylor, clerk of the Proprietors, were frequent correspondents. Included are several letters from Gen. Henry Knox in regard to the Waldo Patent. Other items include correspondence in regard to the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corp., of which Dane was a director; a copy of the "Massachusetts Answer to the Resolution of Virginia as to the Alien & Sedition Acts," written by Dane (Jan. 1799); and account books as agent for Mass. relating to the Revolutionary War claims of Massachusetts against the United States.
Also included are a letter from James Monroe (12 Feb. 1795) to Benjamin Lovett in regard to the capture of the schooner Lark by a French privateer and other Lovett materials; correspondence of John, Joseph, and Andrew Cabot with Joseph Gardoqui & Sons regarding trade at Bilbao, Spain, and with Dane; a copy of a ten-page letter from Dane to Daniel Webster (10 May 1832) concerning legislation to provide pensions for veterans of the Revolution; and deeds and other legal documents related to lands in Newbury, Beverly, and other towns in Essex County, Mass.
Other bound volumes include Dane's weather diary (1815-1834), office receipt book (1789-1817), and lists of real estate taxes (1780-1801) with currency and commodity valuations (1774-1820); docket books of cases at the Essex County (Mass.) Court of Common Pleas (1782-1812); a receipt book (1783-1784); and three account books of client Nathaniel Gould (1758-1781).
The bulk of the collection was a donation from the estate of Nathan Dane, ca. 1835. The account books related to Massachusetts claims were acquired by purchase, Jan. 1914. The weather diary was a gift of Goodspeed's, Jan. 1965.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Correspondence and business papers, 1663-1834
III. Additions, 1741-1834
IV. Volumes, 1758-1834
On microfilm, P-790.
On microfilm, P-790.
Stored in oversize box.
On microfilm, P-790.
Nathan Dane papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.