ROBERT R. WHALEY, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Church Hill, Queen Anne’s Co., Md., was committed to prison, Monday, Nov. 5, to serve a term of ninety days in the county jail at Centreville, for the crime of “Sabbath-breaking” and “doing bodily labor on the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday.”
There were three cases against him. The first for working Sunday, June 3, 1894, and the other two for laboring the two succeeding Sundays. In one of the warrants the offense charged was “Sabbath-breaking,” and when Mr. Whaley was asked whether he would plead guilty or not guilty, he answered that he would plead, “not guilty” to the charge of Sabbath-breaking. Judge J. M. Robinson, the presiding judge, asked him if he worked on the day called Sunday, the first day of the week. Mr. Whaley answered that he had. To which the judge replied: “In this State they are the same. The Sabbath and Sunday are the same.”
Five witnesses were called by the State, all of whom testified to having seen Mr. Whaley hoeing in his garden, chopping and sawing wood in his back yard. All the witnesses volunteered the information that the defendant did not deny that he worked on Sunday, but admitted it and said he had the right to do it. After the prosecuting witnesses were examined the judged asked the defendant if he had any explanation to offer.
Mr. Whaley replied that he had, and in a calm dignified manner and in a tone of voice firm and impressive, he said in substance:—
I have a few words that I would like to say. This is something new to me. I was born and reared in Queen Anne’s County, and was never before the court until to-day. I have always endeavored to be a law-abiding citizen. But I am here in a matter between my Lord and myself. I would like to say to the court that I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I study my Bible, and my convictions are that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord my God.
I was raised in the Sunday-school and I was taught the ten commandments. I was taught that the seventh day is the Sabbath, and then was taught to observe the first day in its stead. In my study of the Bible I can not find where God, the Lord Jesus, or the apostles ever changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. I am conscientious in the matter and choose to stand for God and the right. I leave the case with the court.
The court room was crowded and this brief statement was listened to in marked silence.
Judge Robinson replied at some length to the effect that the law did not interfere with his rights to keep the seventh day, but only asked that he refrain from labor on Sunday, the first day of the week. He admitted that Sunday laws were enacted out of deference to the religious sentiment that regards the day as holy. He traced the present Sunday legislation back through the Church and State governments of modern Europe to Constantine’s time. He made use of every opportunity to sitmatize the Sabbath of the Lord as the “Jewish Sabbath;” and repeatedly asserted that the defendant was not conscientious in the matter of working on Sunday. Mr. Whaley remarked that he was, but the judge said he did not wish to argue the question and did not give him an opportunity to explain why he was conscientious regarding the necessity of working on Sunday. The judge spoke in a kindly manner, and repeatedly offered to suspend fines in the second and third cases “if the defendant would show a disposition to obey the law.” Of course Mr. Whaley could not compromise the matter and the judge fined him five dollars and costs in each of the three cases. At this writing the amount of the costs is not obtainable, but the amount does not affect the length of the term of imprisonment, as the time is limited by law to thirty days for each separate case.
Mr. Whaley is forty-two years old and has a wife and seven children dependent on him for support. Previous to his becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church he was a probationary member of the Methodist Church, and it is a very significant fact in this connection that four of the five prosecuting witnesses were members of the Methodist Church, and Mr. Whaley’s former brethren.
In the summer of 1893, Elders Robinson and Horton, Seventh-day Adventist ministers, came to Church Hill, a town of five hundred inhabitants, and held a series of meetings which resulted in the organization of a small church. The opposition was very bitter. Attempts were made, with partial success, to cut down the tent in which the meetings were held and at the same time the mob, with pious enthusiasm, came with tar and feathers with avowed intention of decorating Elder Horton and treating him to a free ride.
In the spring of 1894 work was commenced on a church building and Mr. Whaley, being a carpenter by trade, was engaged to build the church. Not wishing to give unnecessary offense and having work on his own premises which must be done, he refrained from working on the church on Sunday, and devoted the day to hoeing in his garden and chopping firewood as his neighbors often did, and as one of them actually did at the same time as Mr. Whaley did part of the work for which he was arrested.
The other case, that of William G. Curlitt, another Seventh-day Adventist belonging to the same church, was called, but as one of the State’s witnesses was absent the case was postponed until Wednesday.
Mr. Whaley’s wife is in perfect  sympathy with her husband, and though loath to be separated from him for so long a time, yet she encouraged him to faithfulness, promising to care for the family of little ones as best she can.