Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DANE, Nathan, jurist, born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, 27 December 1752; died in Beverly, Massachusetts, 15 February 1835. He was graduated at Harvard in 1778, and, after studying law, was admitted to its practice and settled in Beverly. His acquirements made him a safe and able counselor, and with his large and diversified experience he became one of the most prominent lawyers of New England. He entered at once into political life, and from 1782 till 1785 was a member of the Massachusetts legislature. In 1785 he was a delegate to the continental congress, and was continued as such by re-election until 1788. During his career in the national legislature he rendered much efficient service by his work on committees, and was the framer of the celebrated ordinance passed by congress in 1787 for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio. It was adopted without a single alteration, and contains the emphatic statement "that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory." He also incorporated in this ordinance a prohibition against all laws impairing the obligation of contracts, which the convention that formed the constitution of the United States a few months afterward extended to all the states of the Union by making it a part of that constitution. In 1790 he was elected to the Massachusetts senate, and again elected in 1794 and 1796. He was appointed judge of the court of common pleas for Essex County in 1794, but after taking the oath of office, almost immediately resigned, and in 1795 was appointed a commissioner to revise the laws of the state. In 1.811 he was delegated to revise and publish the charters that had been granted in Massachusetts, and in 1812 was selected to make a new publication of the statutes. During the same year he was chosen a presidential elector. He was a delegate to the Hartford convention in 1814, and also to the Massachusetts constitutional convention in 1820, but declined serving on account of deafness. For fifty years he devoted his Sundays to theological studies, excepting during the hours of public worship, reading generally the Scriptures in their original languages. In 1829 he gave 810,000, which he increased by $5,000 in 1831, for the foundation of the Dane professorship of law in Hat-yard law-school, requesting that his friend, Judge Joseph Story; should occupy the chair, which he did until his death. He published "A General Abridgment and Digest of American Law" (9 vols., Boston, 1823-'9), and " Appendix" (1830).
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