George E, H. Day

Share your story submitted by: L. Keith | Rochester, MN

I would like to correct errors concerning George E. Day in the brochure, "U. S. Dakota War of 1862: A Brief History published by the Minnesota Historical Society."

A quote from the brochure follows: "George E. Day, a government official from Washington, D. C., visited Minnesota and wrote a report to President Abraham Lincoln documenting the rampant corruption associated with Indian Affairs but no action was taken."

The errors follow:

George Day signed the letter as Geo. E. H. Day, not George E. Day.

He was of St. Anthony when he wrote the letter dated Jan. 1, 1862. He declares in the letter: "If I were not poor & had not a family to support I would go to Washington at my own Cost out of love of country & the poor indian."

The 1857 Minnesota territorial census verifies that George and his family did indeed live in St. Anthony, Hennepin County: George E. H. Day, 51, born in Vermont, occupation: banker.
He is also found on the 1860 census in St. Anthony, Minnesota. (Geo. E. H. Day household, 1860 U.S. Census, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Population Schedule, St. Anthony, 2nd Ward, p. 32, dwelling 304, family 264, National Archives Microfilm M653, Roll 570.)

The 1859-1860 Minneapolis and St. Anthony Directory lists Geo. E. H. Day, Atty at Law, corner of Wood & Main St., St. Anthony. The business directory in the same book, lists him as an attorney off the corner of Todd and Main. The locations are about two blocks apart. The first may have been his residence. Main Street still exists, running parallel with the Mississippi River. However other street names were changed to numbers--Todd and Wood no longer exist.

His 1862 letter follows:

From George E. H. Day to Abraham Lincoln,
"St Anthony Minn. Jan 1, 1862.

"Mr President in August last I was appointed Special Commissioner by Mr Dole, Comm. Ind. Affairs, with the approbation of Hon Mr Smith Sec Interior at the request of Hon J. R. Doolittle, Chairman of the Senate Com. Ind Affairs & Hon. C. Aldrich Chairman of House Com. same subject for 100 days only. I visited the Chippewas of the miss. first- then of Lake Superior - held 3 councils with them- then I visited the Winnebagoes & then the Sioux or Dacotas held 3 more councils travelling all by land (nearly) about 1800 miles in my own wagon driving my mules, often sleeping in the woods & generally without any companions- distance between stopping places from 20 to 60 miles frequently. Everywhere I have been treated by the present officers of Gov with courtesy & have reciprocated all civilities & enclose herewith a copy of a letter of the Hon Mr Galbraith Sioux Agt, for consideration.

"I have discovered numerous violations of law & many frauds committed by past Agents & a superintendent. I think I can establish frauds to the amount from 20 to 100 thousand dollars & satisfy any reasonable intelligent man that the indians whom I have visited in this state & Wisconsin have been defrauded of more than 100 thousand dollars in or during the four years past. The Superintendent Major Cullen, alone, has saved, as all his friends say more than 100 thousand in four years out of a salary of 2 thousand a year and all the Agents whose salaries are 15 hundred a year have become rich.
"The Indians are decreasing in numbers & yet their payments never increase but year after year have also decreased to each person & in the aggregate. The whole system is defective & must be revised or, your red children, as they call themselves, will continue to be wronged & outraged & the just vengeance of heaven continue to be poured out & visited upon this nation for its abuses & cruelty to the Indian.

"I most sincerely desire to aid Mr Dole & Hon Mr Smith in revising & perfecting the trade & intercourse laws & regulations with the cooperation such honest men as Judge Doolittle & others who desire that the placing of the Government in the hands of an honest man shall result in honest & free & humane dealings & transactions with the poor defrauded & degraded Indians of our frontiers.

"Here are a few of the words of the head Chief of Lake Superior Chippeways spoken at my Council Oct 22, 1861, last, "We send him our Great Father- our profound respects- We hope his heart is like the Great spirit all benevolence & that he will listen to our requests".

"At all my councils the Chiefs desire me to make many requests of their Great Father & tell him of many wrongs they had suffered from the Gov Agents and especially traders the greatest Curse of the Indians and the curse of the nation for they boast that they can control Congress & have done it.

"Our Senator Rice is an old trader with two living indian wives & he has had, during the past administration, with which he was omnipotent, three old Indian-Traders appointed Agents. I never scarcely heard of an honest indian trader - & then it is understood he is very liberally supported every way by the traders The whole pack of traders & ex Agents & Superintendent are making war upon me because I have been looking up their frauds & rascalities & because they can neither frighten nor buy me- each of those means having been ineffectually tried.

"I was at two of your receptions last summer desired to see you alone but knowing how overwhelmed with cares you was, never called. If I were not poor & had not a family to support I would go to Washington at my own Cost out of love of country & the poor indian. I have written to the Secretary of the Interior & Commr Dole & do not wish this referred to them- but desire to be requested to go at Gov expense. $135, would pay all. I think as above stated I could save nearly as many thousands. A suggestion to Mr Dole or any Course you choose would accomplish it. The Indian Traders & Agents nearly if not quite control our delegation in Congress except Mr. Windom whom I consider an honest man neither to be bribed nor frightened- sound as a rock I feel to trust a man who fears God I have the honor to be your obt servant. Geo. E. H. Day"

He had accurately described the conditions that led to the Sioux uprising of 1862.

In a letter dated April 27, 1864, enclosed with Thomas S. Williamson's letter to Abraham Lincoln, George E. H. Day stated that he was appointed Special Commissioner to the Indians of the Northwestern Superintendency. Thomas S. Williamson, a missionary to the Sioux, protested the treatment of the Sioux Indians who were imprisoned at Davenport, Iowa, after the 1862 uprising. George E. H. Day concurred with Dr. Williamson and "in behalf of those condemned Indians and in the name of humanity beg that you will now order them released and sent to take care of their starving families now perishing for the want of food."

About twenty-five years later, his widow mentioned in her will that her husband, George E. H. Day, was of Washington, DC. Apparently, George moved there about 1862 or 1863. He may have moved without his family because the first listing for him in Boyd's 1863 Directory of Washington, DC, shows that he boarded at 396 9th West. After that his home was at 419 West 10th Street. His family probably moved to Washington as soon as he found a house for them.

His name appeared in the Boyd's [Washington city] Directory until 1867. From 1864 through 1867 his name appeared as a lawyer in the business directory section of the city directories. In 1864 and 1865, his office was at 344 Pennsylvania Avenue, but he moved to 5th Street at the corner of Louisiana Avenue. This address, about half way between the White House and Capitol, served as his office in 1866 and 1867.

George E. H. Day died during May of 1867. His death notice appeared in the Minneapolis Daily Chronicle, Tuesday, May 14, 1867:

"Death of Geo. E. H. Day.—George E. H. Day, Esq., formerly a prominent lawyer and citizen in St. Anthony, died recently in Washington. His remains are being brought to St. Anthony for interment. Mr. Day was about sixty years old."

A monument in Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, is inscribed with his name and the years of his birth and death, 1806-1867. (His wife, Mary E. A. Day, owned the lot in Lakewood Cemetery and is also buried there.) However, George could not have been originally buried at Lakewood because that cemetery was not established until after his death. M. A. E. Day purchased a cemetery lot in Maple Hill Cemetery before June 14, 1867, the date the deed was filed. (Hennepin County, Minnesota, M. A. E. Day, grantee, recorded in Deed Book 16, p. 249.) It is highly likely that M. A. E. Day was Mary, George's widow and she bought the lot for her husband's burial. This cemetery, abandoned during the late 1800's, is now Beltami Park in Minneapolis. Some graves were moved. Whether George's remains were moved to Lakewood has not been determined.

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