Thomas Day (1801-1861) was a free black furniture craftsman and cabinetmaker in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. Born a free black man in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, Day moved to Milton in 1817 and became a highly successful businessman, boasting the largest and most productive workshop in the state during the 1850s.
Day catered to high-class white clientele and was respected among his white peers for his craftsmanship and work ethic. Day came from a free and relatively well-off family and was privately educated. Today, Day's pieces are highly sought after and sell for high prices; his work has been heavily studied and displayed in museums such as the North Carolina Museum of History, Detroit Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and by many skilled collectors.
Day is heralded in modern society as an incredibly skilled craftsman and savvy businessman, partiularly in consideration of the challenges his race posed to his success in the Antebellum South.
Thomas Day, a free person of color in the antebellum South, owned and operated the largest furniture shop in North Carolina in 1850.
A bronze statue of Thomas Day 1801 - 1861 outside the North Carolina Museum of History
No photos of Thomas Day are known to exist, although this advertisement for his business, published in the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser in March 1827, survives.