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petitions were referred to a special committee, who reported adversely to the prayer of the petitioners. Congress, in adopting the report, declined, in respect to the transportation of the mail, to make any distinction between Sunday and the other days of the week. The Christian Sabbath is not an institution of the Government of the United States and is nowhere invested with the sanction of its authority.
In the constitutions of the several States the Sabbath is wholly unmentioned, with the exception of that of Vermont. Part I., in article 3 of that constitution, after providing for the protection of the rights of a religious conscience, adds: "Never. theless, every sect or denomination of Christians ought to observe the Sabbath or Lord's Day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God." This language relates simply to Christian sects, and, even in reference to them, it is merely the statement of a moral obligation. No one, we presume, would claim that the legislature of Vermont could make it the basis of a statute requiring Christians religiously to observe the Lord's Day. Such a construction would be inconsistent with other parts of the same section. The constitutions of all the States leave the question of religious worship, as to time and mode, to be settled by the individual conscience, subject only to the limitation imposed by the demands of public order.
As an example of legislative action in regard to the Sabbath, we refer the reader to Part I., chapter 20, title 8, and article 8 of the Revised Statutes of the State of New York, in which he will find a series of provisions forbidding the following things to be done on "the first day of the week, called Sunday:" 1. The serving of any "writ, process, warrant, order, judgment, decree, or other proceeding of any court or officer of justice," with certain exceptions specified. 2. A variety of sports, as "shooting, hunting, fishing, sporting, playing, horse racing, gaming, frequenting of tippling houses, or any unlawful exercises or pastimes," 3. All travelling "unless in cases of charity or necessity" or for other excepted purposes named in the statute. 4. All "servile laboring or working, excepting works of necessity or charity, unless done by some person who uniformly keeps the last day of the week, called Saturday, as holy time, and does not labor or work on that day, and whose labor shall not disturb other persons in their observance of the first day of the week as holy time." 5. Public traffic in "any wares, merchandise, fruit, herbs, goods, or chattels," with the exception of "meats, milk, and fish, which may be sold at any time before nine of the clock in the morning." 6. The sale of "ale, porter, strong or spirituous liquors" by inn or tavern-keepers, "excepting to lodgers in such inns or taverns, or to persons actually travelling on that day in cases allowed by law." The title which contains these
provisions relates to "the prevention and punishment of immorality and disorderly practices"; and under it we have a series of articles referring to "jugglers and the exhibition of shows, etc," "disorderly practices on public occasions and holidays,' "betting and gaming," "raffling and lotteries," "the racing of animals," "profane cursing and swearing," "the disturbance of religious meetings," and "the observance of Sunday."
Part III. in chapter 3, title I, and section 7 of the same Statutes provides that “ no court shall be opened or transact any business on Sunday, unless it be for the purpose of receiving a verdict or discharging a jury."
These provisions furnish an illustration of the general scope and character of what are called "Sabbath laws." Such laws, as to their minor details, differ somewhat in the different States; yet, like the constitutions of the several States, they are in all the States substantially identical in their fundamental principle. What is that principle? In order to answer this question on the basis of judicial authority, we submit, as follows, a series of deliverances by State courts in cases referring to the Christian Sabbath :
In the case of Lindenmuller vs. The People (33 Barbour, p. 548), the Supreme Court of the State of New York, in expounding the Act of April 17th, 1860, forbidding theatrical and dramatic performances on the Christian Sabbath, after saying that,
as a civil and political institution, the establishment and regulation of a Sabbath is within the just powers of the civil government," held the following language:
"The act complained of here compels no religious observance, and offenses against it are punishable not as sins against God, but as injurious to and having a malignant influence on society. It rests upon the same foundation as a multitude of other laws upon our statute book—such as those against gambling, lotteries, keeping disorderly houses, polygamy, horse-racing, profane cursing and swearing, disturbance of religious meetings, selling of intoxicating liquors on election days within a given distance of the polls, etc."
In the case of the State vs. Ambs (20 Missouri Reports, p. 214) the Supreme Court of Missouri said:
"The Sunday law was not intended to compel people to go to church or to perform any religious act; but was designed to coerce a cessation from labor, that those who conscientiously believed that the day was set apart for the worship of God might not be disturbed in the performance of their religious duties. . Because divines may teach their Churches that the reverential observance of the Lord's Day is an act of religious worship, it by no means follows that the prohibition of worldly labor on that day was designed by the general assembly as an act of religion."
The case of Specht vs. The Commonwealth (8 Pennsylvania Reports, p. 312) was that of a Seventhday Baptist who had violated the law of Pennsylvania by working on Sunday. In regard to the statute the Supreme Court spoke as follows:
"All agree that to the well-being of society periods of rest are absolutely necessary. To be productive of the required advantage, these periods must recur at stated intervals, so that the mass of which the community is composed may enjoy a respite from labor at the same time. They may be established by common consent, or, as is conceded, the legislative power of the State may without impropriety interfere to fix the time of their stated return and enforce obedience to the direction.
. . In a Christian community, where a very large majority of the people celebrate the first day of the week as their chosen period of rest from labor, it is not surprising that that day should have received the legislative sanction; and, as it is also devoted to religious observances, we are prepared to estimate the reason why the statute should speak of it as the Lord's Day and denominate the infraction of its legalized rest a profanation. Yet this does not change the character of the enactment. It is still, essentially, but a civil regulation, for the government of man as a member of society."
In the case of The City Council of Charleston vs. Benjamin (2 Strobh., p. 508) the defendant was