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William R. Day: Wikis


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William Rufus Day

In office
May 3, 1897 – April 27, 1898
Preceded by William Woodville Rockhill
Succeeded by John Bassett Moore

In office
April 28, 1898 – September 16, 1898
Preceded by John Sherman
Succeeded by John Hay

In office
February 28, 1899 – February 23, 1903
Preceded by seat created
Succeeded by John Kelvey Richards

In office
February 23, 1903 – November 13, 1922
Preceded by George Shiras, Jr.
Succeeded by Pierce Butler

Born April 17, 1849(1849-04-17)
Ravenna, Ohio, U.S.
Died July 9, 1923 (aged 74)
Mackinac Island, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Schaefer
Alma mater University of Michigan
Profession Lawyer, Judge, Politician

William Rufus Day (April 17, 1849 – July 9, 1923) was an American diplomat and jurist, who served for nineteen years as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Day was born in Ravenna, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1870 and spent the following year in the school's law department. He settled in Canton, Ohio in 1872, where he began practicing law. For twenty-five years, Day worked as a criminal and corporate lawyer in the growing industrial town while participating in Republican politics.

During these years, Day became a good friend of William McKinley. Day became McKinley's legal and political adviser during McKinley's candidacies for the Congress, the governorship of Ohio, and the presidency of the United States. After he won the presidency, McKinley appointed Day to be Assistant Secretary of State under Secretary of State John Sherman. Sherman was considered to be ineffective, and in 1898, President McKinley replaced Sherman with Day

Five months later, Day vacated his cabinet position to helm the United States Peace Commission formed to negotiate an end to the Spanish-American War with Spain. [1] After the Spanish-American War was declared, Day had argued that the Spanish colonies, other than Cuba, should be returned to Spain, contrary to McKinley's decision that the United States should take over from Spain control of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Day, however, negotiated peace with Spain on McKinley's harsher terms. His final diplomatic effort was to lead the United States Peace Commission into Paris, France and sign the Treaty of Paris ending the war.

Portrait of William R. Day

Upon Day's return from Europe, McKinley appointed him to an appellate judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which included Day's home state of Ohio. Day's position as head of the state department was filled by John Hay.

President McKinley was assassinated in September 1901 and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took his place. In January 1903, Roosevelt nominated Day as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed the nomination and Day took his new position on March 2, 1903.

Day wrote 439 opinions during his tenure on the court, of which only 18 were dissents. He distrusted large corporations and voted with antitrust majorities throughout his time on the court. He sided with the government in the Standard Oil, American Tobacco, and Union Pacific cases in 1911 and 1912 and again in the Southern Pacific case in 1922.

He is recorded as asking his clerk for "regular updates" during the bench hearing of Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co. v. United States about the final game of the 1912 World Series.[2]

Day retired from the court in 1922 and died the following year on Mackinac Island in Michigan. He is buried at West Lawn Cemetery in Canton, Ohio.

Important opinions authored by Day


  1. ^ William Rufus Day
  2. ^ The First Fall Classic (2009), ISBN-16 978-0-385-52624-1, Mike Vaccaro, page 233

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Woodville Rockhill
United States Assistant Secretary of State
May 3, 1897 – April 27, 1898
Succeeded by
John B. Moore
Preceded by
John Sherman
United States Secretary of State
Served under: William McKinley

April 28, 1898 – September 16, 1898
Succeeded by
John Hay
Legal offices
Preceded by
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
February 28, 1899 – February 23, 1903
Succeeded by
John Kelvey Richards
Preceded by
George Shiras, Jr.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
February 23, 1903 – November 13, 1922
Succeeded by
Pierce Butler


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