Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

William Day (1898–1898): Secretary of State

Born in Ohio, William Rufus Day earned both a bachelor and a law degree from the University of Michigan. Day then established Law and Day, one of Ohio's most important law firms. In 1889, Day was nominated by President Benjamin Harrison and confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the U.S. District Court, but he refused the appointment due to ill health.

Following his appointment as assistant secretary of state, Day became head of the department for a brief time between April 26, 1898, and September 16, 1898. Day was uncomfortable in that position and refused to sign a peace treaty to end the Spanish-American War. President William McKinley would later appoint Day to serve four years on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and it was from that position that Day would take his place on the Supreme Court, having been appointed to that bench by President Theodore Roosevelt on January 29,1903. Day would serve for twenty years on the Supreme Court before dying on July 9, 1923.