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For 81 years, the United States Postal Ser­vice accom­mo­dated Loma Linda, California’s largely Seventh-day Adven­tist pop­u­la­tion by deliv­er­ing the mail on Sun­days instead of Sat­ur­days. This ended on April 23, 2011 when the Postal Ser­vice, cit­ing eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions, brought this rare accom­mo­da­tion to an end.

U.S. Mail
The deliv­ery of mail on Sun­days in the United States has a fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory, and most peo­ple do not know that until 1912, the Postal Ser­vice rou­tinely deliv­ered mail on Sun­days. It was only under pres­sure from reli­gious and labor orga­ni­za­tions that the USPS grad­u­ally tran­si­tioned to the now-familiar Mon­day through Sat­ur­day schedule.

The Postal Ser­vice is as old as the nation itself, begin­ning with the kite-flying, bifo­cal invent­ing, and noted Renais­sance man Ben­jamin Franklin who orga­nized the USPS at the direc­tion of the Sec­ond Con­ti­nen­tal Con­gress on July 26, 1775. The founders then gave Con­gress the power to estab­lish and main­tain the postal ser­vice as one of the enu­mer­ated pow­ers in Arti­cle One of the Con­sti­tu­tion. The mail was the sole com­mu­ni­ca­tion life­line of the newly formed nation, and the Post­mas­ter a cab­i­net posi­tion and the final posi­tion in the pres­i­den­tial line of suc­ces­sion until the USPS was reor­ga­nized in 1971.

[1] Out­raged that Con­gress had thus “enforced Sun­day des­e­cra­tion,” reli­gious lead­ers began to clamor for leg­is­la­tion that would out­law Sun­day operations.

This stemmed, in part, from the fact that prior to the pas­sage of the equal pro­tec­tion clause of the Four­teenth Amend­ment which was one of the post-Civil War Amend­ments which applied the estab­lish­ment clause of the First Amend­ment to the states, state and local gov­ern­ments were able to reg­u­late Sun­day clos­ings of busi­nesses and even reg­u­late what pri­vate activ­i­ties a per­son could par­tic­i­pate in on Sun­days. The post office, how­ever, was Fed­eral ter­ri­tory and peo­ple could go there and con­duct busi­ness, or social­ize and the local reli­gious lead­ers had no juris­dic­tion to interfere.

[3]

[8] This would seem to indi­cate that reli­gion, not effi­ciency, was the pri­mary rea­son for clos­ing on Sundays.

Today, all United States Post Offices are closed for Sun­day deliv­ery except for two: Angwin, Cal­i­for­nia and Col­legedale, Ten­nessee where a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of peo­ple observe the Sab­bath on Sat­ur­day and where pri­vate post offices, owned by the Seventh-day Adven­tist Church which oper­ate uni­ver­si­ties in these towns, have con­tracts that guar­an­tee no Sat­ur­day deliveries.


[1]

[2] Har­mon Kings­bury, The Sab­bath: A Brief His­tory of Laws, Peti­tions, Remon­strances and Reports with Facts and Argu­ments Relat­ing to the Chris­t­ian Sab­bath, S.W. Bene­dict, Printer, New York, 1840, 26.

[3] Blake­ley, 393.

[4] The Writ­ings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times, New York,  1969, 564–66.

[5] Blake­ley, 298.

[6] Amer­i­can State Papers and Related State Papers on Free­dom in Reli­gion, com­piled and anno­tated by William Adi­son Blake­ley, Pub­lished for the Reli­gious Lib­erty Asso­ci­a­tion by the Review and Her­ald, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., 1949, 273.

[7] Chris­t­ian Unity at Work,  The Fed­eral Coun­cil of the Churches of Christ in Amer­ica in Qua­dren­nial Ses­sion at Chicago, Illi­nois, 1912, Pub­lished by the Fed­eral Coun­cil of the Churches of Christ, edited by Charles S. Mac­far­land, 1913, 242.

[8] Post Office Depart­ment Annual Reports for the Fis­cal Year Ended June 30, 1914: Report of the Post­mas­ter Gen­eral, Gov­ern­ment Print­ing Office, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., 1914, 143

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ksayer1

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Michael Peabody is the edi­tor of Reli​gious​Lib​erty​.TV.

 
 

20 Comments

  1. Irene says:

    I worked for the post office — in Angwin and Deer Park CA were deliv­ery and what work was needed to be done was on Sun­day instead of the Bible Sab­bath of  Sat­ur­day.  I also know that Walla Walla WA was that way also for the work really needs to be done on another day instead of Sabbath.

  2. Irene says:

    I worked for the post office — in Angwin and Deer Park CA were deliv­ery and what work was needed to be done was on Sun­day instead of the Bible Sab­bath of  Sat­ur­day.  I also know that Walla Walla WA was that way also for the work really needs to be done on another day instead of Sabbath.

  3. Creationspolitical says:

    Thanks Michael,  I nice piece of his­tory that shows that our adver­saries never give up and we don’t either.  I believe that I read that the post office will soon stop Sat­ur­day deliv­er­ies also so then end­ing of Sun­day deliv­er­ies in Loma Linda is not prejudicial.

  4. Creationspolitical says:

    Thanks Michael,  I nice piece of his­tory that shows that our adver­saries never give up and we don’t either.  I believe that I read that the post office will soon stop Sat­ur­day deliv­er­ies also so then end­ing of Sun­day deliv­er­ies in Loma Linda is not prejudicial.

  5. Martin Surridge says:

    As Con­gress seri­ously debates end­ing ALL week­end deliv­ery for the US Postal Ser­vice as a cost-cutting ser­vice, will our opin­ions on this topic even matter?

  6. Martin Surridge says:

    As Con­gress seri­ously debates end­ing ALL week­end deliv­ery for the US Postal Ser­vice as a cost-cutting ser­vice, will our opin­ions on this topic even matter?

  7. Mike Newdow says:

    Allud­ing to

    of the First Amend­ment, the House Report (dur­ing the con­tro­versy in 1830) noted
    that the request to stop mail deliv­ery on Sun­days was based on reli­gious


     

    After the his­tory of reli­gious


    In our indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter,
    we all enter­tain opin­ions, and pur­sue cor­re­spond­ing prac­tice upon the sub­ject
    of reli­gion. How­ever diver­si­fied these may be, we all har­mo­nize as cit­i­zens,
    while each is will­ing that the other shall enjoy the same lib­erty which he
    claims for him­self. But in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive char­ac­ter, our indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter
    is lost. The indi­vid­ual acts for him­self; the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for his
    con­stituents. He is cho­sen to rep­re­sent their polit­i­cal, and not their reli­gious

     

    If the mea­sure rec­om­mended
    should be adopted, it would be dif­fi­cult for human sagac­ity to fore­see how
    rapid would be the suc­ces­sion, or how numer­ous the train of mea­sures which

     

    Those men con­tin­ued with the


    as well as the proud dec­la­ra­tion that:

    With the excep­tion of the United States,
    the whole human race, con­sist­ing, it is sup­posed, of eight hun­dred mil­lions of

     

     


    their motive be to induce Con­gress to sanc­tion, by law, their reli­gious opin­ions and obser­vances, then their efforts are to


    com­mit­tee would rec­om­mend the use of all rea­son­able meanse [sic] to give it a


    [1] H.R. Rep. No. 271, 21st Cong., 1st
    Sess. 1 (1830).

    [2] Id.
    at 2

    [3] Id.

    [4] Id.
    (Emphases in original).

    [5] Id.
    at 3.

    [6] Id.

    [7] Id.
    at 4. (emphases in original).

    [8] Id.
    at 5.

    [9] Id.
    at 5–6.

  8. Mike Newdow says:

    Allud­ing to

    of the First Amend­ment, the House Report (dur­ing the con­tro­versy in 1830) noted
    that the request to stop mail deliv­ery on Sun­days was based on reli­gious


     

    After the his­tory of reli­gious


    In our indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter,
    we all enter­tain opin­ions, and pur­sue cor­re­spond­ing prac­tice upon the sub­ject
    of reli­gion. How­ever diver­si­fied these may be, we all har­mo­nize as cit­i­zens,
    while each is will­ing that the other shall enjoy the same lib­erty which he
    claims for him­self. But in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive char­ac­ter, our indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter
    is lost. The indi­vid­ual acts for him­self; the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for his
    con­stituents. He is cho­sen to rep­re­sent their polit­i­cal, and not their reli­gious

     

    If the mea­sure rec­om­mended
    should be adopted, it would be dif­fi­cult for human sagac­ity to fore­see how
    rapid would be the suc­ces­sion, or how numer­ous the train of mea­sures which

     

    Those men con­tin­ued with the


    as well as the proud dec­la­ra­tion that:

    With the excep­tion of the United States,
    the whole human race, con­sist­ing, it is sup­posed, of eight hun­dred mil­lions of

     

     


    their motive be to induce Con­gress to sanc­tion, by law, their reli­gious opin­ions and obser­vances, then their efforts are to


    com­mit­tee would rec­om­mend the use of all rea­son­able meanse [sic] to give it a


    [1] H.R. Rep. No. 271, 21st Cong., 1st
    Sess. 1 (1830).

    [2] Id.
    at 2

    [3] Id.

    [4] Id.
    (Emphases in original).

    [5] Id.
    at 3.

    [6] Id.

    [7] Id.
    at 4. (emphases in original).

    [8] Id.
    at 5.

    [9] Id.
    at 5–6.

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