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    December 4, 1889

    “‘Legitimate Recreation’” American Sentinel 4, 45.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the report of the thirty and thirty-first years of the New York Sabbath Committee, we find a section on the Saturday half-holiday movement, the first paragraph of which reads as follows:—AMS December 4, 1889, page 353.1

    “The Saturday half-holiday movement, from which much was hoped in its indirect influence upon the Sunday observance, has not accomplished as yet what was expected from it. Said Governor Hill, in a speech at Dunkirk, with reference to this measure: ‘There may be a legal difficulty in dividing a day, making only one-half of it a legal holiday. That difficulty can be avoided by making every Saturday-the whole day-a holiday. Saturday would thus be set apart as a day of recreation and pleasure, and the following Sunday would become, what it was intended to be, emphatically a day of rest, and a better observance of Sunday would be promoted. Sunday is rapidly becoming a day of recreation, especially in the summer season, instead of a day of rest. Such a holiday would afford every workingman an opportunity for pleasure, for some travel, for visiting friends, for study, and for whatever other legitimate recreation he may desire to take.’”AMS December 4, 1889, page 353.2

    There are two points suggested by this which are worthy of serious thought. The first is in connection with the claim that the Sunday law is a temperance measure in that it will close the saloons on Sunday. It is well known that when the charge of discrimination is made of tacitly making the liquor traffic legitimate on other days by excluding the sale of intoxicants on Sunday, the Sunday-law people say that it is necessary because people are idle on Sunday, and, therefore, are then more subject to the attractions of the saloon; that if the saloons are closed on Sunday, when people are idle, the bulk of their traffic will be taken away.AMS December 4, 1889, page 353.3

    The fallacy of this claim was shown in the SENTINEL a few weeks ago by a quotation from the Voice; but the effort of the Sunday-law movers to have Saturday made a half or a whole holiday is the strongest demonstration of the hollowness of their temperance professions. While professing to want the saloons closed on Sunday in order simply to protect the idle laboring men, they at the same time, work to have the pre-ceding day made a holiday, in which the workingmen shall be idle. But we have never heard of a Saturday-closing movement, so that it would seem that the saloon is dangerous to idle men only on Sunday.AMS December 4, 1889, page 353.4

    But what is specially interesting in the paragraph we have quoted is the closing sentence in the extract from Governor Hill’s speech. After recommending the setting apart of Saturday as a day of recreation and pleasure, so that Sunday might become emphatically a day of rest, he says: “Such a holiday would afford every man an opportunity for pleasure, for some travel, for visiting friends, for study, and for whatever other legitimate recreation he may desire to take!” That is the object of the proposed Saturday half-holiday; it is to allow the workingman time to take the recreation which he needs, but which would be prohibited by such a Sunday law as is desired. And what is the recreation? Read the above sentence again. It is travel, visiting friends, and study. Nothing could more plainly indicate that the proposed law would prohibit such quiet recreation as visiting friends and studying. Surely this would be the Puritan law with a vengeance. It would involve the spying into houses by the minions of the law, to see who is reading the newspaper or studying, or to see who is receiving an innocent visit from a friend. It is a striking comment on the inevitable working of a Sunday law, that its friends cannot make even the most incidental allusion to it without revealing the cloven foot of the Inquisition.AMS December 4, 1889, page 353.5

    E. J. W.

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