Dakota Datebook

Origin of Blue Laws

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

On this date in 1920, The Bismarck Tribune explained the state’s Blue Laws stemmed from a disgruntled New Haven colonist who ridiculed the colony’s laws, which he said included:

“No one shall cross a river on Sunday unless he be an authorized clergyman. No one shall run on the Sabbath day, or walk in his garden. No one shall travel, cook, make beds or sweep houses on the Sabbath. No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day. Every man who strikes his wife shall be fined ten pounds, and a woman who strikes her husband shall be dealt with according to the law. Whoever publishes a lie to the prejudice of his neighbor shall sit in the stocks, or be whipped 15 stripes.”

The Tribune stated Blue Laws were so named because they were bound in blue cloth, but historians have found no such evidence.

Source: The Bismarck Tribune. 9 Nov 1920.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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