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Life and Times of Thomas Day

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Life and Times of Thomas Day

Thomas Day was born in Dinwidee, Virginia in 1801 to a free slave mother. With the law that allowed children to be born free if their parents were free, Day was born free and did not have to be a slave. His family had been free since the early 18th century. He and his brother were educated by private tutors and they were trained by their father in cabinetry and carpentry. Thomas' brother eventually began to study theology and he emigrated to Liberia in 1930 and was a Baptist missionary, eventually became one of the signers of the Liberian Declaration of Independence and a prominent statesman there. He's known as one of the founding fathers of that nation.

Thomas moved to Milton, NC in 1823 and started a furniture business where he became one of the best furniture makers of that time. He received notice from two of North Carolina's governors and his furniture is inside of University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill's original buildings. He eventually began to train free blacks and enslaved blacks to do the carpentry work that he was doing. By the mid 1800s his work was in demand from Virginia to Georgia. He then had to begin purchasing slaves to help him to the work. His furniture shop became the biggest shop in the state because he used steam powered machines and using mass production techniques to build his furniture.

In 1827 Thomas married a free woman from North Carolina. But the law was that free slaves could only marry people from their own state. So Thomas threatened to move his furniture shop outside of North Carolina and to move it to Virginia where that law did not exist. So the North Carolina Legislature made special arrangements to the law so that Thomas would stay in North Carolina and he and his wife could still be married. Thomas had three children and they were educated in an abolitionist-sympathizing school in Massachusetts called Wesleyan Academy.

He also constructed some pews for The Presbyterian Church in Milton provided that his family would be allowed to sit up front in the white section. He was an active member of the community of Milton. In 1848 he purchased the Union Tavern where he resided until he died in 1861. It is now a landmark but part of it was destroyed by a fire in 1989. It is being reconstructed now.

They give workshops at his tavern and about his tavern now to teachers. They teach people about entrepreneurship and how to analyze landmarks. They even have scholarships and grants named after Thomas praising him and his works around North Carolina. You can also buy software teaching you about his crafts and how he constructed his furniture. There is also a

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