Henry B. Dawson papers  1836-1913
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Biographical/Historical Note

Born in England in 1821, Henry Barton Dawson emigrated to New York City with his parents in 1834. His formal education ended two years later, but his interest in literary pursuits was stimulated by his brief employment in a publishing a book-selling house in Ithaca, N.Y. From 1839 to 1856 he pursued a business career in New York City and became involved in social reform movements and politics. His concern with the perils of strong drink led him to a short stint as editor of the temperance newspaper, The Crystal Font and Rechabite Recorder in 1847. Later in that decade, he worked for the Free Soil Party and, in subsequent years, was an early supporter of the Republican Party. His allegiance to Republicanism and his interest in politics waned when he concluded that Republican policies were fostering a degree of governmental centralization that he considered to be unconstitutional.

His reputation as a historian began to form in the late 50s with the publication of a number of historical essays and of his first book, Battles of the United States by Sea and Land (2 vols., 1858) This latter work demonstrated Dawson's inclination to challenge accepted historical assumptions through revisionist analysis. In 1863 he published an edition of The Federalist which created controversy with James A. Hamilton and John Jay. Three years later he purchased the Historical Magazine which he edited until it ceased publication in April, 1876. His term as editor was marked by his desire to debunk fondly-held myths about local history. His interest in this subject led him to complete his most famous work, "Westchester County, New York during the American Revolution" which appeared in 1886 in J.T. Scharf's History of Westchester County .