Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 45

Price Realized: $ 1,125
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION.) Benjamin Day Jr. A Loyalist returning from British-held Mississippi requests American citizenship. Autograph Petition Signed, to "The Hon'le Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." One page, 13 x 8 1/4 inches, docketed on verso; folds, ink burn in two spots, a few manuscript revisions in an unidentified contemporary hand. West Springfield, MA, May 1784

Additional Details

Benjamin Day (1746/7-1794) of West Springfield, MA graduated from Yale in 1768. In 1776, when many of his former classmates were already fighting for independence, he went to the southwest frontier to help establish a British presence in Natchez territory, a newly claimed part of West Florida in what is now southern Mississippi. The leader of this expedition was a fellow Yale loyalist, Major Timothy Dwight, Class of 1744. Day was soon commissioned as a British major himself. The British settlement at Natchez failed within a year; Day moved on to British-held Savannah and St. Augustine.

At the end of the war, Day returned to Massachusetts, and drafted this petition to the state's congress: "Your petitioner was formerly an inhabitant of this state, but left it in April 1776 as an adventurer to settle himself and family on the river Mississippi . . . until the year of 1782, when the savages becoming troublesome he left it with a determination of returning immediately to this commonwealth . . . and wishes to become a subject thereof." He requests to become a naturalized citizen of Massachusetts.

The request was granted and he became a successful wool dealer and hat manufacturer, resuming his place in the New England elite. Per his entry in "Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale," four of his great-grandsons followed him to Yale.