An Act to Prevent Sabbath Breaking 1854

Transcript of Original Document

An Act to Prevent Sabbath Breaking, 1854
Sec 1. Be it enacted by the Legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon- That no person shall keep open his or her store, shop, Grocery, Ball=alley, Billiard Saloon, Tipling house, or any place of Gaming or amusement, or do any secular business, other than works of necessity and mercy, on the first day of the week commonly called the Lords day or sunday, provided however; that this act shall not be so construed as to have effect when the cir=cumstances of the case render it necessary that the above provision be not observed.
Sec. 2. Any person offending against the provisions of this act, shall upon conviction before any jus=tice of the Peace of the proper county, be fined in any sum not exceeding ten dollars, and such fine when collected shall be paid into the county Treasury for the common school fund.
Sec. 3. this Act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

Passed the Council January 12th 1854
Passed the House of Representatives January 13th 1854,
ZC bishop
Speaker of the House of Rep's

R. Wilcox
President of Council


This act prohibits doing business on Sunday, the traditional day of rest in much of the United States. The act focuses on two types of activity. The first type consists of amusement or entertainment, which would occur in ball-alleys, billiard saloons, tippling houses, and gaming places. The second type of activity is broader and includes stores, shops, groceries or any secular businesses. Simultaneously, however, the law turns around and exempts situations where circumstances make it necessary to do business on Sunday. Jewish merchants, who observed the Sabbath on Saturday, were particularly opposed to this law.

Words and Terms

billiard saloon
tippling house

For Further Discussion

  1. What kinds of activity were forbidden on Sunday?
  2. Why would the legislature forbid these activities?
  3. can you think of any types of business that cannot be done on a Sunday today?
  4. Do you think this law could cause hardship for anyone?
Image of letter transcribed in body of page.
Document No. 5329 - Enlarge image​