NATIONAL SUNDAY-REST BILL
SENATE BILL No. 2983, INTRODUCED IN FIRST SESSION OF FIFTIETH
BY SENATOR H. W. BLAIR, MAY 21, 1888.
BILL TO SECURE TO THE PEOPLE THE ENJOYMENT OF
THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, COMMONLY KNOWN
AS THE LORD'S DAY, AS A DAY OF REST, AND TO
PROMOTE ITS OBSERVANCE AS A DAY OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That no person or corporation, or the agent, servant, or employee of any person or corporation, shall perform or authorize to be performed, any secular work, labor, or business, to the disturbance of others, works of necessity, mercy, and humanity excepted; nor shall any person engage in any play, game, or amusement, or recreation, to the disturbance of others, on the first day of the week, commonly known as the Lord's day, or during any part thereof, in any territory, district, vessel, or place, subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; nor shall it be lawful for any person or corporation to receive pay for labor or service performed or rendered in violation of this section.
SECTION 2. That no mails or mail matter shall hereafter be transported in time of peace over any land postal route, nor shall any mail matter be collected, assorted, handled, or delivered during any part of the first day of the week: Provided, That whenever any letter shall relate to work of necessity or mercy, or shall concern the health, life, or decease of any person, and the fact shall be plainly stated upon the face of the envelope containing the same, the Postmaster-General shall provide for the transportation of such letter or letters in packages separate from other mail matter, and shall make regulations for the delivery thereof, the same having been received at its place of destination before the said first day of the week, during such limited portion of the day as shall best suit the public convenience and least interfere with the due observance of the day as one of worship and rest: And provided further, That when there shall have been an interruption in the due and regular transmission of the mails, it shall be lawful to so far examine the same when delivered as to ascertain if there be such matter therein for lawful delivery on the first day of the week.
SECTION 3. That the prosecution of commerce between the States and with the Indian tribes, the same not being work of necessity, mercy, nor humanity, by the transportation of persons or property by land or water in such way as to interfere with or disturb the people in the enjoyment of the first day of the week, or any portion thereof, as a day of rest from labor, the same not being labor of necessity, mercy, or humanity, or its observance as a day of religious worship, is hereby prohibited; and any person or corporation, or the agent or employee of any person or corporation, who shall willfully violate this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than one thousand dollars; and no service performed in the prosecution of such prohibited commerce shall be lawful, nor shall any compensation be recoverable or be paid for the same.
SECTION 4. That all military and naval drills, musters, and parades, not in time of active service or immediate preparation therefor, of soldiers, sailors, marines, or cadets of the United States, on the first day of the week, except assemblies for the due and orderly observance of religious worship, are hereby prohibited, nor shall any unnecessary labor be performed or permitted in the military or naval service of the United States on the Lord's day.
SECTION 5. That it shall be unlawful to pay or to receive payment or wages in any manner for service rendered, or for labor performed, or for the transportation of persons or of property in violation of the provisions of this act, nor shall any action lie for the recovery thereof; and when so paid, whether in advance or otherwise, the same may be recovered back by whoever shall first sue for the same.
SECTION 6. That labor or service performed and rendered on the first day of the week in consequence of accident, disaster, or unavoidable delays in making the regular connections upon postal routes and routes of travel and transportation, the preservation of perishable and exposed property, and the regular and necessary transportation and delivery of articles of food in condition for healthy use, and such transportation for short distances from one State, District, or Territory, into another State, District, or Territory, as by local laws shall be declared to be necessary for the public good, shall not be deemed violations of this act, but the same shall be construed, so far as possible, to secure to the whole people rest from toil during the first day of the week, their mental and moral culture and the religious observance of the Sabbath day.