TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAIL ON THE SABBATH. / In the Senate of the United States, / January 19, 1829. Separation of Church and State.

TRANSPORTATION OF THE MAIL ON THE SABBATH. / In the Senate of the United States, / January 19, 1829.

[Frankfort? Ky. np. 1829]. Broadside. 43 x 27cm. Three columns of text are printed beneath the caption title, the whole enclosed in a decorative border. Some toning and light soiling, one short closed tear at right margin just touching the border, repaired on verso. This printing adds a paragraph before the report: "To the lovers of civil and religious liberty the following report comes like the freshness of the morning dew, distilling vigour and hope around, although the deep laid designs of Priestcraft, like the deadly Upas, are fastening on our land. Yet there is a hope that such sentiments will eradicate every remain of impious attempts at supremacy—and the names of Johnson and Powell be handed down to posterity as the champions of equal rights." The place of publication comes from the listing at Library of Congress which is the only listing found in OCLC. It does not appear in American Imprints, Hummel or SIngerman. Item #66631

The subject of mail delivery on Sundays was hotly debated in Congress for nearly twenty years (1810-1830), as the post office handled and carried the mail seven days a week during this period. Petitions by various religious groups over these years requested that such work on Sundays be terminated. The text of this Senate report is a distillation of the controversy, and clearly takes the committee's opinion that a Congressional act halting mail delivery on the Sabbath, for religious reasons, would be contrary to the principles of the Constitution. "We are aware that a variety of sentiment exists among the good citizens of this nation, on the subject of the Sabbath day, and our government is designed for the protection of one as much as for another. The Jews, who, in this country are as free as Christians, and entitled to the same protection for the laws, derive their obligation to keep the Sabbath day [on Saturday] … with these different views, the committee are of the opinion that Congress cannot interfere … our government is a civil, and not a religious institution … the transportation of the mail on the first day of the week, it is believed, does not interfere with the rights of conscience. The petitioners for its discontinuance appear to be actuated by a religious zeal which may be commendable, if confined to its proper sphere; but they assume a position better suited to an ecclesiastical than to a civil institution. They appear, in many instances to lay it down as an axiom, that the practice is a violation of the law of God. Should Congress, in legislative capacity, adopt the sentiment, it would establish the principle, that the Legislature is a proper tribunal to determine what are the laws of God. It would involve a legislative decision in a religious controversy; and on a point in which good citizens may honestly differ in opinion, without disturbing the peace of society, or endangering its liberties. If this principle is once introduced, it will be impossible to define its bounds. Among the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered, but for the violation of what government denominated the law of God. To prevent a similar train of evils in this country, the Constitution has wisely withheld from our government the power of defining the Divine Law. It is a right reserved to each citizen; and while he respects the rights of others, he cannot be held amenable to any human tribunal for his conclusions." The head of the committee in the Senate, Richard Johnson (ca. 1780-1850) of Kentucky, was praised for this landmark report; his political rise, to nomination as Martin Van Buren's vice-president, followed. Sunday mail delivery continued until after the Civil War, when rapid delivery of news became more a function of modern technology than seven-day a week diligence.

Price: $750.00

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