Businessmen, bankers petitioned for holidays

<p class="p1"><strong>Why do government employees get Christmas Day off if it’s not on a Sunday?</strong></p><p class="p2">Christmas, along with a few other dates, became a federal holiday on June 28, 1870, when President Ulysses Grant signed House Resolution 2224, which applied only to federal workers in Washington, D.C.</p><p class="p2">Later U.S. laws included federal employees beyond the district, and states that hadn’t already done so soon began passing similar laws.</p><p class="p2">Illinois Rep. Burton Cook, sponsor of H.R. 2224, said during debate that the Committee for the District of Columbia had received a petition from “bankers and business men of this District asking that certain days be declared to be holidays.”</p><p class="p2">The bill said that “the first day of January, commonly called New Year’s day, the fourth day of July, the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas day, and any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving, shall be holidays within the District of Columbia.”</p><p class="p2">Additionally, the bill said those holidays would be “treated and considered as is the first of the week, commonly called Sunday,” when it came to banking transactions and notices and that “all notes, drafts, checks, or other commercial or negotiable paper falling during or maturing on either of said holidays shall be deemed as having matured on the day previous.”</p><p class="p2">Cook said during debate on June 17, 1870, that “the bill was drawn to correspond with similar laws of States around the District.” A law passed in New York a few years earlier contained wording nearly identical to that of H.R. 2224.</p><p class="p3"><strong>Debating the issue</strong></p><p class="p2">One of only two bona fide debates that took place in the U.S. House during discussion of the issue, according to The Congressional Globe, the official journal of Congress at the time:</p><p class="p4"><strong>Rep. George Hoar of Massachusetts:</strong> “I move to further amend the bill by striking out the phrases ‘commonly called New Year’s day,’ ’commonly called Christmas day,’ and ‘commonly called Sunday.’ ”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Rep. Oliver Dickey of Pennsylvania:</strong> “I hope that will not be done. We of Quaker extraction in Pennsylvania call Sunday the first day of the week, and are conscientious in so doing.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Cook:</strong> “That phrase is also in accordance with the laws of the States surrounding the District.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Hoar:</strong> “It seems to me that this Congress would be justly an object of derision if it should put into a grave statute such terms as those I moved to strike out.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Dickey:</strong> “I think not; there is a very respectable denomination in my State, the Seventh-Day Baptists, who do not regard the first day of the week as the Sabbath day at all.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Hoar:</strong> “That is not the point. If the gentleman from Pennsylvania … will be kind enough to attend one moment he will see that the bill does not say ‘Sunday, commonly called the first day of the week,’ but it says, ‘the first day of the week,’ and then it adds ‘commonly called Sunday.’ It seems to me that cannot be necessary.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Dickey:</strong> “I think it is commonly called Sunday.”</p><p class="p2">The other debate:</p><p class="p4"><strong>Rep. William Hamilton of Maryland:</strong> “I ask the gentleman from Illinois … to yield to me to offer an amendment.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Cook:</strong> “What is the amendment?”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Hamilton:</strong> “I desire to move to insert the words ‘emancipation day’ after the words ‘the 1st day of January.’ ”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Cook:</strong> “The 1st day of January is already in the bill.”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Hamilton:</strong> “It is in as ‘New Year’s’ and not as ‘emancipation day.’ ”</p><p class="p4"><strong>Cook:</strong> “I cannot yield for that amendment.”</p><p class="p2">Hamilton was referring to the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln issued seven years beforehand, on Jan. 1, 1863.</p><p class="p5"><strong>Online:</strong> https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwcglink.html.</p><p class="p7"> </p>

The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by <strong>Andrew Perzo</strong>, an <em>American Press</em> staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com.

      9ad15fd0-06af-11e8-84d4-a3a5195e4b6b2018-01-31T17:53:00ZobituariesObits published Wednesday, January 31, 2018Maggie Louise Bush, Johnson Funeral Home.

      Robert Paul “Bobby” Coontz, Johnson and Robison Funeral Home.

      Donald J. DeGabrielle, 64

      Virgil Ray Drake Sr., 81, Hixson Snider Funeral Home.

      James Wilkerson Duraso Jr., 86, Johnson and Robison Funeral Home.

      Versie M. Abram “Miss Vee” Espree, James Funeral Home.

      Lou Anna “Pelet” Miller Guidry, 78, Hixson Funeral Home of Lake Charles.

      Daryl D. LeBert, 55, Johnson &amp; Brown Funeral Home.

      Murphy Wilfred Victorian Jr., 59, Fondel Memorial Chapel.

      Betty Dunnam Woodward, 85, Hixson-Sulphur Memorial Funeral Home.

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