“The Present Standing of the Sunday-Law Movement” The American Sentinel 6, 9, pp. 65, 66.

February 26, 1891

IN number four, of his contributions to the Sunday-law question, Mr. Crafts furnishes some more valuable items to the literature and the facts of this question. The article is an inquiry,—“What about Sunday Trains, Sunday Mails, and Sunday Newspapers?” and in the article he makes this confession:—

About all we have gained in the last five years in our fight with Sunday trains, Sunday mails, and Sunday newspapers, is in the way of confession to their wrongness.

How general this confession is, he does not tell us, but whether it be limited or general, such a confession is vastly more of a gain than the Sunday-law cause is entitled to, not only in five years, but in all time, because such things are not wrong. There is no more wrongness in Sunday trains, Sunday mails, and Sunday newspapers, than in trains, mails, and newspaper at ay other time, and a confession of any such wrongness is, in itself wrong.

As to the value of the indorsements in that great petition which he calls, “the greatest petition the world ever saw,” he bears important testimony as follows:—it is not to be supposed that all those represented [in the petition] have acted accordingly. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, for instance, indorsed the petition at the International Convention in Richmond, and then went home on a Sunday train. The recent International Sabbath-school Convention, at Pittsburg, spoke strongly against Sabbath breaking, but many of its members arrived on Sunday trains.

And the italics are all his own; they are worthily placed too. This simply shows that the indorsement, even where it is genuine, of those organizations and associations, is merely for the purpose of maintaining popularity with those who are demanding religious legislation and offering political influence, without a particle of principle in it. It also conclusively shows that when the Sunday laws which they demand shall have been secured, they will not be obeyed even by those who have made them and profess to believe them; and that the only use that will ever be made of them, will be for those who have the power to vent their religious spite and bigotry upon those who choose to differ with them in regard to the observance of a day of rest. That is the only use that is now made of Sunday laws where they are of force. It is the only use that will be made of the Sunday laws that are further demanded.

And this is the answer to that statement which is so often made when this subject is spoken of, “Pshaw! there is no danger in all that; even though they get a Sunday law, it will not be obeyed.” That is true, and THE SENTINEL, in all its work, has never suppose that the Sunday laws which are demanded will be obeyed when they are secured. But such laws will put power into the hands of the religious Sunday-law leaders, and that power will be used in enforcing the laws upon the few people who choose to observe another day rather than Sunday, and refuse to observe Sunday. We repeat, that is the only use that is made of Sunday laws now, and the only use that ever will be made of them. But that is the worst possible use, because it is simply to prostitute the civil power to the place of a tool in the hands of the irregular passions of religious bigots. For as Bancroft has justly observed, “the humane ever shrink from enforcing the [66] laws dictated by bigotry, and their enforcement, therefore, falls to the fanatics or the men of savage disposition. Hence, the execution of such laws is always much more harsh than the makers of the laws intend.”

It will be remembered that the “Pearl of Days,” the official organ of the American Sabbath Union, and Mr. Crafts himself, heralded through the land the blessed fact that the Erie, and Pennsylvania railroads had largely reduced the Sunday traffic, especially in the matter of freight trains, but now Mr. Crafts deposeth as follows:—

I am informed that the so-called reductions on the Erie were a sham, and that even the Pennsylvania’s reductions lasted, in most cases, only a few months.

He shows that it is the same way also with the Delaware, Lackawana, and Western, and New York Central railroads.

Again, it will be remembered how much was made of President Harrison’s order in respect to the Sunday parade of United States troops, and how that both the order and the offer were extolled. But now Mr. Crafts declares that

what the President has done in regard to the soldier’s Sabbath, like the other half reforms I have referred to, is valuable only as a confession. His proclamation lacks the ring of right. He does not discontinue Sunday parades of United States troops, nor Sunday concerts by Government bands, and only cuts off half the morning inspection. He has not bettered, but worsened, the situation making two inspections instead of one, at which the soldiers are universally displeased.

All their high hopes which were engendered by the accession of Mr. Wanamaker, the Sunday-school teacher, to the office of Postmaster General, have also been turned into a via doloroso, as witnesseth the following:—

I fear it was the same compromiser, disposed to please both bad and good, who stayed the hands of our Postmaster General in his Sabbath reforms, which also have proved nothing but a confession. We who value the Sabbath, were generous in praise of the few trifling reductions of Sunday work in the mail service, not so much for what they were as for what they promised. But they proved only spring blossoms, and in the autumn we find instead of fruit only faded leaves. Think of John Wanamaker being superintendent of a national Sunday school, with 75,000 class rooms, that is teaching the whole Nation not to keep, but to break, the Ten Commandments!

Yet in the midst of his lament he is able to raise a chirrup with which he attempts to inspire a buzz of a bee in Mr. Wanamaker’s presidential bonnet. He announces that, in his judgment, “Mr. Wanamaker is the man of destiny, if he will only be himself,” and the italics are again his own. He further declares that, “If Mr. Wanamaker will defend himself against political metamorphosis,”

He will soon be seen to be the man who alone can combine and lead the two elements, without either of which any man must soon be defeated, the prohibitionists on the one hand and the labor reformers on the other. Our Presidents thus far have all been lawyers and generals. It is now the merchants’ turn. Nationalism and Civil Service Reform demand that the Government shall be administered like a great business. No public man is so capable as he of taking under Government control the telegraph, and express business, and postal savings banks, in all of which Mr. Wanamaker is understood to believe; and the Government control of railroads, of which his opinion is known, would certainly find in him, when the people shall decree it—and I believe they are nearly ready to write the decree on their ballots—the man most suitable for such a responsibility.

Thus it appears that the American Sabbath Union with the Sunday-law movement, has attained the position where it can presume to hold out, as a reward for service, the chief office in the national Government. It is perfectly consistent, therefore, that Mr. Crafts should adopt, as his view, the recommendation of Dr. Arthur Little, who advocates “agitation, illumination, legislation, litigation, combination.” The Sunday-law managers propose to form a combination of every element that they can secure, and then trade off with whatever political aspirant they can win, the offices in the State and Nation even to the presidency.

And then when they have succeeded in securing the power for which they are so zealously laboring, the following quotation from number five, of Mr. Crafts’s article, shows what they propose to do “for the improvement of Sabbath observance”:—

A minister’s little daughter who had been naughty, as he took her in hand, exclaimed earnestly: “Don’t whip me, don’t whip me; take me and pray with me.” The liquor dealers also want the parsons to stick to their praying. “Don’t whip me—pray for me.” The minister in the story did both. Let ministers in “tending” to the larger offenders do likewise. But we shall not ship them if our only lash is not longer than our tongues. Nor will they be terrified by a tract.

So by the Sunday-law movement, which is led by the preachers, they propose to secure power by which they can whip as well as pray, and it is to be clearly understood that they do not propose to do the whipping with their tongues nor with tracts. Jesus Christ never sent preachers to whip offenders, and when it is proposed to whip the people into Sunday observance, then it is high time that the people themselves should see to it that such characters as these shall not secure the power to whip. It is certain that their prayers without the power to whip can do neither good nor harm to any one. But when a preacher obtains the power of the civil law to whip offenders, then his prayers always deepened the deviltry in the whipping.

It will be remembered, that a few weeks ago we printed words which Mr. Crafts had adopted from Lyman Abbott, to the effect that they purpose to “run up the Puritan flag, and emblazon on it the motto of a modern and modified Puritanism.” The ancient and unmodified Puritanism likewise chose to ship offenders into the kingdom of God, as the following record shows:—

Mary Tompkins and Alice Ambrose came to Massachusetts in 1662; landing at Dover, they began preaching at the inn, to which a number of people resorted. Mr. Rayner, hearing the news, hurried to the spot, and in much irritation asked them what they were doing there? This led to an argument about the Trinity, and the authority of ministers, and at last the clergyman “in a rage flung away, calling to his people, at the window, to go from amongst them.” Nothing was done at the moment, but toward winter the two came back from Maine, whither they had gone, and then Mr. Rayner saw his opportunity. He caused Richard Walden to prosecute them, and as the magistrate was ignorant of the technicalities of the law, the elder acted as clerk, and drew up for him the following warrant—

To the constables of Dover, Hampton, Newberry, Lynn, Boston, Roxbury, and Dedham: Until the vagabond Quakers are carried out of this jurisdiction you are to give them sound whippings; you and every one of you are required in the King’s Majesty’s name to take these vagabond Quakers, Anne Coleman, Mary Tompkins and Alice Ambrose, and make them fast to the cart’s tail, and to whip them upon their naked backs. Convey them from constable to constable until they are out of this jurisdiction, as you will answer at your peril; and this shall be your warrant.

At Dover, December 22, 1662.


The Rev. John Rayner pronounced judgment of death by flogging, for the weather was bitter, the distance to be walked was eighty miles, and the lashes were given with a whip, whose three twisted knotted thongs cut to the bone.

So in a very cloudy day, your deputy, Walden, caused these women to be stripp’d naked from the middle upward, and tyed to a cart, and after a while cruelly whipp’d them, whilst the priest stood and looked, and laughed at it…. They went to the executioner to Hampton, and through dirt and snow at Salisbury, half way the leg deep, the constable forced them after the cart’s tail at which he whipp’d them.

Had the Rev. John Rayner followed the cart to see that his three hundred and thirty lashes were all given with the same ferocity which warmed his heart to mirth at Dover, before his journey’s end he would certainly have joyed in giving thanks to God over the women’s gory corpses, freezing amid the snow. His negligence saved their lives, for when the ghastly pilgrims passed through Salisbury, the people, to their eternal honor, set the captives free.—Emancipation of Massachusetts, pages 155, 156.

Whether the whipping of the “modern and modified Puritanism,” would be any less severe, or any less amusing to the preachers, than was the ancient and unmodified, is a question the American people ought to consider while there is yet time.

A. T. J.

Share this: