What was Richard Henry Dana doing before he shipped out as a sailor in the voyage recounted in Two Years Before the Mast (1840)?

Richard Henry Dana was a college student at Harvard before he shipped out as a sailor in the voyage recounted in Two Years Before the Mast (1840).

Dana (1815-82) suffered eye problems that led him to go out to sea in hopes of improving his health.

Working as a common seaman, he traveled around South America’s Cape Horn and collected and cured hides in California.

After two years (1834-36), he returned home, went to law school, and became an advocate for sailors.

His autobiographical account of his journey influenced such later writers as Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad.

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