Sylvester Day collection  1813-1920
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Sylvester Day collection (1813-1920) is made up of 17 letters and documents written by or related to Sylvester Day, a surgeon for the United States military during the War of 1812, respecting Day's work, his son's education, and additional topics.

Day wrote to his son, Hannibal, praising his academic successes and urging him to continue working hard. Day wrote, "it affords me much pleasure to hear from you, and learn that you are assiduous in the prosecution of your studies…I have no doubt of your being qualified to enter college by next commencement" (October 17, 1817). In a second letter to Hannibal, Day wrote, "It affords me much satisfaction to hear of your good conduct and progress in your studies. I wish you to perfect yourself in the rudiments of arithmetic” (March 27, 1818).

Items pertaining to Day's claims against the United States for reparations reveal the surgeon's professional work ethic. The testimony of David Beard, a purveyor and resident of Detroit, provides insight into Day's dedication to his patients. Beard recalled that Day volunteered to stay in Detroit, even after its surrender to British troops, in order to "attend upon the sick and wounded American prisoners who were unable to be removed. These services were specially important at that time, as no other medical man of either army remained there" (January 6, 1835). The official memorial of Sylvester Day contains an account of Day's departure after the surrender of Detroit and his subsequent detainment and loss of property at the hands of his own countrymen. Day's attorney claimed, "the petitioner ordered on shore, but forbidden to take his baggage & effects which remained in the vessel, and was destroyed when she was burnt by order of Col. Schuyler" (undated).

Three manuscripts from the United States War Department outline milestone dates of Day's military career, along with the locations of specific postings and different positions he held over his lifetime. Also of note is an illustrated, partially printed document certifying Day's contribution of five dollars towards the building of the Washington Monument. This contribution entitled Day to "all the privileges of Membership in the Washington National Monument Society," and bears printed signatures of Zachary Taylor, Elisha Whittlesey, and George Watterston (July 12, 1850). The collection also contains a dinner invitation from Michigan's Governor Lewis Cass, as well as a request for medical aid or referral from General Alexander Macomb in regard to his wife.

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