What are Blue Laws? (23 characters)

Print anything with Printful

Blue laws attempt to control the sale of commerce and limit working hours on Sundays. They originated from religious causes and were first codified by a Connecticut colonial governor. Many parts of New England and the South still observe blue law restrictions, such as the prohibition of alcohol sales on Sundays. The origin of the term “blue law” is disputed, but it is believed to have been influenced by the temperance movements and other moral causes of the late 1800s.

There’s an old saying that you can’t legislate morality, but the concept behind a blue law comes as close as it gets. In the modern sense of the term, a blue law is any ordinance that attempts to control the sale of commerce or to limit working hours on Sunday, also known as the Lord’s Day or Christian Sabbath. Many parts of New England and the South still observe a number of Blue Law restrictions, most notably the prohibition of the sale of alcohol and the limited hours allowed for retail sales on Sundays.

A blue law usually begins as an honest attempt to limit immoral activities on a day dedicated to religious observances. A blue law sponsor might feel it would be in the city’s best interest to curtail gambling operations, for example, so an ordinance would ban pool halls and casinos from opening on Sundays. Another blue law could limit the number of hours a store operates, allowing employees to attend morning or evening church services. Nearly every blue law on the books today can trace its origin to a religious cause, whether it’s temperance against the sale of alcohol or enforcement of dress codes.

Many of the more draconian blue laws are no longer enforced, but a number of cities regulate alcohol sales and retail opening hours whenever possible. Some local retailers have become accustomed to closing on Sundays or limiting hours to the afternoon. Sunday alcohol sales may be permitted in some cities, but not in others. This arbitrary application of blue laws can create unusual problems for the hospitality industry, as a hotel located in a “dry” city may have to send guests on Sundays to nearby “wet” cities for any alcohol purchases. Restaurants may not be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages on Sundays, but a convenience store across the street may not have such restrictions.

The origin of the term blue law is a bit murky. Many sources state that the original blue laws in America were first codified by a Connecticut colonial governor named Theophilus Eaton. Eaton was said to be assisted by a Reverend John Cotton, which should come as no surprise.

The colonists of the New Haven Colony received a set of laws in 1656 that sought to define proper and moral conduct. These laws contained a great deal of puritanical extremist thinking, such as denying room and board to Quakers, Adamites, and other “heretics.” Most of these laws stressed the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy by refraining from a number of activities, including kissing a child and walking in a garden.

These laws were not called blue laws by the colonists themselves. The term blue law in reference to this early legal code did not appear until the 18th century, when a Reverend Samuel Peters paraphrased what he called the Blue Laws of Connecticut. There is not much evidence that any of these rules were actually implemented, but the principle of legislative morality influenced future lawmakers. The modern idea of ​​a blue law really began with the temperance movements and other moral causes espoused during the late 1800s.
The origin of the name blue law is also disputed. Some sources incorrectly state that the original booklets were printed on blue paper. Blue paper would have been a luxury good in the 17th century. Others suggest that the term “blue” has been used as a slur against extreme moralists and politicians, much like our current description of snobbish people as blue blood. The term blue law may also have been a corruption of the blood law, which would seem fitting considering the harsh penalties suggested for those who violated any blue law.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content