Rufus Dawes (1803-1859)

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Rufus Dawes (January 26, 1803 - November 30, 1859) was the author of one book of poetry called The Valley of the Nashaway, and Other Poems (1830), a long narrative poem called Geraldine (1839), and an historical romance novel, Nix's Mate (1840). A poem of his, set to music, was sung at the corner-stone laying ceremony of the Bunker Hill Monument.

The son of a Supreme Court judge, Dawes went to Harvard College to study law, but was forced to leave as a result of false accusations of insubordination and misbehavior in class. His first published poem was an intense satire on the members of Harvard faculty responsible for his expulsion. He went on to enter the office of General William Sullivan as a law student and was admitted to be a member of the Suffolk county bar, but never practiced law. He chose to write instead, and later became interested in philosophy. Dawes also edited several literary, political, and legal works. He admired the theologian and scientist Swendenborg, whose ideas influenced his writing with a sense of the mystical.Dawes moved from Boston to DC, where his wife had family, and lived here for the rest of his life, working as a government clerk.

Written by Word Works intern Monica Root October 2013; edited by Kim Roberts, January 2016.

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