Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
|Skip Navigation Links|
The death of Edward Marvin Day on May 2, 1947, brings to mind the picture of a typical New Englander who rose step by step to a high and commanding position among the citizens of this state by his contributions to its legal growth, its charities and its associations for literary and historical purposes. He was born in Colchester on August 20, 1872, being the first son of Erastus S. and Katherine Olmsted Day, natives of Colchester. His father was a prominent attorney, widely known for his cool judgment, his level head and his knowledge of human nature. His mother was a most interesting woman. She had an understanding love of history.
Mr. Day had a rather spare but well-knit frame and a rugged constitution. He was conspicuous for his erect bearing and distinguished appearance. He received his early education in his native town at Bacon Academy and throughout his life was interested in its affairs. He became a trustee of the academy in 1916 and held that office until his death. He was graduated from Yale University in 1894 with the B. A. degree, and from the Yale Law School in 1896. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar on October 7, 1896. While at Yale, he formed many friendships which lasted until his death, receiving from his college life the most valuable thing it offered, the contacts with men from all parts of the country and from all walks in life. He could recognize a weakness or a virtue in any of his friends with unerring judgment. He had a deep knowledge of the Christian religion and its foundations. He was a constant attendant of the First Church of Christ in Hartford from 1898, when he became a member, to the date of his death.
He played baseball during his school days and often the triumphs of the Colchester team over supposedly superior teams were due largely to his skillful pitching and his coolness in any crisis. He was passionately fond of fishing and of hunting and it would be difficult to say which appealed to him the more. He always enjoyed walking and golf.
His love for the classics and poetry was another part of this many-sided man. He often drew on his reading of history "to point a moral or to adorn a tale." Only the best poetry and the best literature appealed to him and it was that interest in them which brought him into the mutual and warm friendship which grew up between him and Governor Wilbur L. Cross.
In 1896 Mr. Day was elected a representative from Colchester to the General Assembly and was the youngest member of the house. He was executive secretary to Governor George E. Lounsbury and also to Governor Henry Roberts from 1901 to 1905. He was often called a conservative but that did not mean that he clung blindly to ideas merely because they were old. He would hold firmly to them only as long as they fitted the changing life of the times, but whenever he believed that the time had come for a change he had the courage and he not hesitate to step forward. In 1907, the General Assembly authorized the appointment of a committee to recommend legislation on the question of the liability of employers for accidents to employees. Mr. Day became chairman of the committee which was appointed in accordance with the act. It was undoubtedly that report which finally caused the enactment of the so-called Workmen's Compensation Act.
He was counsel for the board of water commissioners of Hartford when it was evident that the constant and healthy growth of that city required the immediate expansion of its water system, now known as the Nepaug reservoir. The method of compensation in kind to meet the damages suffered by riparian owners was original with him and he proved his point in the case of Board of Water Commissioners of Hartford v. Manchester, which was successfully carried to the Supreme Court of the United States. His draft of a form for the proceedings to be followed in the frequent condemnation of land for the purposes of the water system was a model, so short and yet so plain that it was refreshing to lawyers and to laymen.
He early recognized the danger to world peace from unsettled conditions in Europe and the unwise management of affairs. It was clear to him that the First World War was inevitable. He volunteered as a dollar-a-year man in the American Red Cross and spent some months in Washington. In those days he seemed to some of his friends to be a pessimist, but afterwards his forebodings proved to be well-founded. He should not be classed a pessimist nor as an optimist. He was rather a wise prophet.
He started the practice of law alone in 1896 in Hartford and continued in that manner for twenty-three years, building up a large clientele until he had more work than he could handle. At the urgent solicitation of some of his clients, he formed the firm of Day and Berry, composed of himself, Joseph F. Berry and Lawrence A. Howard, which is now and for many years past has been known, with the addition of many more partners, as Day, Berry and Howard.
It seemed to his partners that he had the most difficult and intricate problems presented to him by his clients, especially the corporate ones, but he invariably mastered them and brought order and prosperity to them. His rare judgment and tact were admired by all who sought his advice, and, notwithstanding his wide law practice, he always found time to help his friends whenever they needed expert advice, whether or not they could pay for it.
He gained the confidence and respect of all with whom he came in contact, so much so that for many years, and at the time of his death, he held directorships or trusteeships in the following corporate businesses and institutions: Aetna Life Insurance Company and affiliated companies, Phoenix Insurance Company, Connecticut Fire Insurance Company, Equitable Fire & Marine Insurance Company, the Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company, the Hartford Courant Company, J. B. Williams Company, North & Judd Manufacturing Company, the Montgomery Company, the Institute of Living, Bacon Academy, New Britain Machine Company.
For many years he was a member of the Judicial Council of Connecticut, and at the time of his death he belonged to the following law associations: Hartford County Bar Association, State Bar Association of Connecticut, American Bar Association, American Law Institute, American Judicature Society, Life Insurance Counsel.
His writings, letters and papers showed a marked literary versatility, especially indicated in connection with the Monday Evening Club, which was composed of men who met at each other's homes for dinner and who afterwards listened to a paper by one of the members. This club was founded in 1869 by such men as Horace Bushnell, Judge Hammersley, Joseph R. Hawley, Henry C. Robinson and other men of note, and shortly thereafter included Mark Twain, Francis Goodwin and Charles Hopkins Clark. By careful replacements, it has continued with its high quality of literary membership to the present day.
Mr. Day was widely known for his generous assistance, financial and otherwise, to worthy charities and improvements of a civic nature, as illustrated by his large gift to his church in Hartford, the restoration of his church in Colchester at great expense and many other similar instances.
He left a sister, Miss Elisabeth G. Day of Colchester, and a brother, David S. Day of Bridgeport.[footer.htm]