Two Years Before the Mast is an American classic published in 1840. This is the account of Richard Henry Dana’s two-year adventure as a sailor. Throughout his time sailing around Cape Horn on the brig Pilgrim, Dana kept a diary, and on his return to Massachusetts, he wrote this now-loved classic.
While attending Harvard College, Dana was stricken with measles, which would ultimately have a detrimental effect on his eyesight. Instead of going on a Grand Tour of Europe as most young men did in that era, he decided to work as a sailor, believing the open sea would be good for his health. Born in 1815, Richard Henry Dana was an American lawyer and politician who would become best known for being a champion of the common man.