Quite an active canvass was conducted in California on the Sunday question during most of the past year. In Oakland there was a strong Sunday-closing campaign. During the political struggle the Sunday-law workers did their best to get the candidates of the regular parties to pledge themselves to favor Sunday laws in the Legislature in return for votes. A Sunday-closing crusade was also conducted in Los Angeles. Some items upon the methods employed in the latter place will be given later. Here we wish to call attention to the memorial which a National Reformer, with the aid of the Central Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, circulated for signatures, and presented to the City Council of Oakland. It was as follows:—
We, citizens of Oakland, respectfully ask you to pass an ordinance requiring all the saloons to be closed from six o’clock Saturday evening until six o’clock Monday morning. Because,
1. Open saloons are not needed on the weekly rest-day.
2. Saloon-keepers as well as others need the rest and the opportunities which the day affords.
3. Open Sunday saloons are schools of vice and temptation to young men.
4. They are disturbers of the peace, and they lead to debauchery and crime. If closed on Sunday our Monday morning police courts would not be so crowded with drunkards and criminals.
5. Many industrious laborers, husbands and fathers, spend in these Sunday saloons much of their earnings of the previous week. Thus, such saloons are robbers of poor families.
6. As it is now lawful and practicable to close the saloons on election days, much more should it be done on our weekly rest-day.
7. It would do wrong to none, but good to all classes; and multitudes of the best citizens would be grateful to the Council.
Every argument in that memorial justifies the saloon on every day of the week but Sunday. The first proposition, that open saloons are “not needed” on the weekly rest-day, grants that they may be, if they are not actually, needed on other days of the week. The second one, that saloon-keepers as well as others need the rest and opportunities which the day affords, argues that saloon-keeping is a worthy business,—so entirely worthy, in fact, that saloon-keepers should have a regularly recurring rest-day to recuperate their wasted energies, so that they can carry on their work the other six days with more vigor and to the very best purpose. No stronger argument could be made in favor of the saloons business on every day of the week but Sunday than is made in this statement by that portion of the National Reform Association, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
Number 3, in saying that Sunday saloons are schools of vice and temptation to young men, argues that the saloons at other times are not such. Number 4 is to the same effect, and Number 5 emphasizes this argument. Note, it says that many industrious laborers, husbands and fathers, spend in these Sunday saloons much of their earnings of the previous week, and then declares that “such saloons are robbers of poor families.” By this they distinctly and emphatically single out the Sunday saloon from every other kind of saloon, and then say that such saloons as that are robbers of poor families.
Without an open and positive defense of the saloon and all that it implies, it would be impossible to present a stronger justification of it at all times except Sunday than is presented in this memorial.
The non-partisan Woman’s Christian Temperance Union not only did wisely, but showed itself loyal to the principle of temperance, when it refused to take any part in the question of Sunday closing. Because the real issue, as they stated it, is not in the interests of temperance, but in behalf of Sunday only.
A. T. J.