Partial Report of Hearing on Johnston Sunday Bill, S. 404


History of the Bill

Now may I call attention, gentlemen, to the character of this bill, to the history of the bill, because the history of this bill will, I think, throw light upon the real purpose and nature of the bill? RJSB 4.4

The first appearance of this bill, or the beginning of it, was on Jan. 14, 1908, when the senator from Alabama introduced a bill “requiring certain places of business in the district of Columbia to be closed on Sunday.” On April 7, 1908, the same senator introduced S. 6535, a bill “for the proper observance of Sunday as a day of rest in the District of Columbia.” This bill had no exemption clause whatever. Later the senator made a report on this bill, and he substituted for his first bill, the bill requiring certain places of business to be closed on Sunday, the second bill requiring a cessation from work on Sunday; but he introduced an exemption clause in the third section, reading thus:— RJSB 5.1

“Provided, That persons who are members of a religious society, who observe as a Sabbath any other day in the week than Sunday, shall not be liable to the penalties prescribed in this Act if they observe as a Sabbath one day in each seven, as herein provided.” RJSB 5.2

In that form it came to the House, and died in the committee. At the extra sessions of the present Congress, the same senator, on March 22, 1909, introduced substantially the same bill. This time the exemption clause was attached to section one; but it still read, “shall not be liable to the penalties prescribed in this Act.” Under discussion in the Senate, this bill was amended. This exemption was changed to read, “That persons who observe as a day of rest any other day in the week than Sunday shall not be held to have violated the provisions of this section,” not Act. RJSB 5.3