by Elizabeth Bamattre
On a perfectly calm evening August 1, 2015, the Dana Point Historical Society marked the bicentennial of the birth of Richard Henry Dana Jr. More than 80 guests and presenters arrived for the reception alongside the brig Pilgrim to the sounds of sea shanties sung by Bill Dempsey. State Senator Pat Bates, Mayor Carlos N. Olvera, OC Dana Point Harbor Master Brad Gross and Ocean Institute Directors Dan Stetson and Dori Moorehead joined DPHS President Barbara Johannes in welcoming guests and introducing the evening’s program.
Continuing our tribute in 2015, Barbara Johannes announced the release of a new biography, Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr. by Jeffrey L. Amestoy. The book has been released for the 200th anniversary of Dana’s birth and will be featured at the Society’s monthly meeting on September 16.
Bob Minty had suggested the Society read excerpts from Dana’s 1915 Centenary Celebration at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University. Wayne Rayfield, as Bishop William Lawrence, read the role of moderator; Bob Minty, as Professor Bliss Perry, read Dana as a Man of Letters; Les Hawthorne, as Moorfield Storey, read Dana as an Anti-Slavery Leader; and the Hon. Mike Harris, as the Hon. Joseph H. Coate, read Dana as a Lawyer & Citizen. Dr. Milt McMenamin closed the program with a superbly delivered dramatic tribute relating how Dana’s experiences before the mast led to his work defending sailors and slaves, participating in some of the most important legal decisions of his time. There was much to learn about this courageous and inspiring man beyond the words so familiar to us in Two Years Before the Mast.
With sponsorship by the City of Dana Point and proceeds from the evening’s event, the Dana Point Historical Society raised $3,700 for the Ocean Institute’s Before the Mast program. Thank you to all those who helped make his unique event such a success: Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, the Ocean Institute, OC Dana Point Harbor, City of Dana Point, Orange County Parks, Dana Point Community Services & Parks, Elizabeth & Bill Bamattre, Joel Bishop, Max Brown, Judy Henderson, Rod Howorth, Heidi Hyde, Carl Iverson, Nancy Jenkins, Barbara & Keith Johannes, Tracy Kirby, Marsha & Rich LaRusso, Ann McMenamin, Georgelean Olvera, Drew Reynolds, Kevin Van Fleet and Bob Wilson.