A Sunday-law Conviction in Georgia

The American Sentinel, 1889, Vol 4, #35

A Sunday-law Conviction in Georgia.

THE following is from the Atlanta Comtlitution of August 30:—

The conviction in Forsyth County of a man named Conklin, who was charged with chopping wood on Sunday, has created a decided sensation among the Seventh-day Advontists in Georgia.

The announcement of the conviction was made in the Constitution yesterday.

Rev. J. O. Corliss was in Atlanta yesterday and talked at length about the case.

” The witnesses testified,” said he, ” that they saw him chopping saplings j list back of his house, but did not know what he was chopping them for. On being questioned, one of them said he lived within one hundred and fifty yards of the defendant’s house, but had never seen him work on Sunday before. And yet he was convicted by a jury of twelve men and fined $25 and costs, amounting in all to $46.80.

“Now, in the ordinary course of events it would not be strange to fine a man convicted for viohiting the laws of the State. But it seems that this man had done no more than all his neighbors had done, that is, chop a little wood for immediate use, as a necessity. In fact, one of the witnesses it is said, has frequently driven his team all day Sunday to be at the market in Atlanta early Monday morning.”

” What is the reason for the conviction, then ?

“Simply this: The poor man happened to have a conscience which led him to observe Saturday, the seventh day of the week, instead of Sunday, the first day of” the week. He is a good citizen, pays all his honest debts, and is respected by all as a man. But it seems that the people of that vicinity have a corner on religion and are determined that no one shall indulge in a belief that is not received from them. At least, one would think so from the plea made before the jury by the State’s attorney. They wanted to teach the defendant that he could not come into that county and overturn the Sabbath of their forefathers.

” You may talk about your jute bagging trusts and sugar trusts, but a religious trust is the most dangerous of all, and the more detrimental to the interests of the country, because it is more tyrannical aiid generates more bad blood. If this man, Conklin, had not actually violated the law of the State, and the State’s witness failed to show that he had, on what principle of right and justice was he thus deprived of his hard earnings, to say nothing of being subjected to the odium of being thus arraigned as a criminal ?

” The State’s attorneys took a religious view of the case,” continued Mr. Corliss. ” They contended that the Adventists were trying to displace the Sabbath of our forefathers, and to overturn the religion of all past generations. Colouel T. L. Lewis, of Alpharetta, and Colouel Philipps, of Marietta, argued that it was unjust to punish the man for working on Sunday, as his conscience led him to observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and he had kept it sacred. They also claimed that he was chopping wood for household purposes. But he was convicted; and, to show their appreciation of his condition, as Conklin is very poor, Colonel Philipps and Colonel Lewis each gave him $10 towards paying his fine.”



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