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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/James G. Day

JAMES G. DAY, jurist, was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, June 28, 1832. In youth he attended Richmond Academy and afterwards graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in the class of 1857. He soon after located at Afton, in Union County, Iowa, where he entered upon the practice of his profession. In the fall of 1861, when it became evident that the Civil War was to be a long and desperate conflict. Mr. Day closed his law office and joined a military company which was incorporated into the Fifteenth Regiment of Infantry. He was chosen one of the lieutenants of Company F, and was soon at the seat of war, where for gallant service he was promoted to captain of the company. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, so that he was compelled to relinquish his command and retired from the service in September, 1862. Before his return home he had been nominated by the Republicans for judge of the Third District, was elected and was serving his second term when appointed judge of the Supreme Court on the 1st of September, 1870, to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge Wright who had been elected to the United States Senate. He was continued on the Supreme bench by election until January 1, 1884, serving as Chief Justice the last year of his term. He was defeated in convention for nomination in consequence of a decision rendered by the Court, declaring the prohibitory amendment proposed to the Constitution void, in consequence of failure of the Legislature to submit it to the voters in a legal manner. Judge Day wrote the opinion of the Court and thus incurred the opposition of enough prohibition delegates in the State Convention to accomplish his defeat. That Judge Day was actuated by the purest motives, in pronouncing this decision, has never been doubted and its soundness has been conceded by many of the ablest lawyers of the State. He removed to Des Moines and resumed the practice of law, where he died suddenly on the 1st of May, 1898.