THE Sunday laws of the States all recognize that it is necessary to do some work on Sunday, and provide an exemption for such work, often specifying work which is necessary only to avoid some pecuniary loss. But if it is a necessity that people should be saved from pecuniary loss, is it also a necessity that the people have the right to choose their own hours of rest, labor, and recreation? Are the natural rights of the people as much of a necessity to them as is something that can be represented in dollars and cents? The SENTINEL contends that nothing can be more of a necessity to the people than that they be allowed to enjoy their natural rights and liberties.
HOW TRUE was the prophecy of Thomas Jefferson, the great American advocate and exponent of natural rights, concerning the survival of the rights of the American people: “From the conclusion of this war [the Revolution] we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”—Notes on Virginia, Query XVII.
Is it not true that the people have “forgotten themselves but in the sole faculty of making money?” Are they not careless of their rights, save such rights as are concerned with money-getting—is not money-getting, with the vast majority, the one all-absorbing craze? And how far off can we be from the convulsion which Jefferson foresaw?
WHAT is more tiresome than to spend a whole day doing nothing? What is more taxing on the nerves than a whole day of compulsory idleness? And yet this is the remedy proposed for the weariness that comes from the week of labor, by the people who advocate Sunday laws. For those people, as is well known, want to forbid both labor and recreation on the day they believe to be the Christian Sabbath. They themselves can find congenial occupation in going to church on Sunday, and they would go to church and observe the day without any Sunday law. But people who do not want to go to church, and do not have a religious regard for the day, can only be made more weary than ever by being forcibly shut off from the avenues of exercise and recreation they would naturally choose—compelled to loaf through the daylight hours of the Sunday Sabbath. To call this a remedy for weariness is truly a mockery.