Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 37PETITION OF MORISS BAULAND FOR REMISSION OF FINE
July 6, 1857
The city's charter gave it the power "to regulate, license and restrain the sale of fresh meats and vegetables in the city." By municipal ordinance regulating markets, no merchandise could be sold from midnight Saturday night until Monday morning without written permission. Fines for violations could range from ten to fifty dollars. In this instance the council decided not to remit the fine and court costs imposed.
In 1857, the city was experiencing an economic slump and a common laborer received fifty to seventy-five cents a day. It was not uncommon for one to work long hours six or seven days a week. By the late 1860s a labor movement was growing and in 1867 state law specified eight hours to be the legal work day for those employed in all but the farm industry. However, this law did not forbid overtime work or specify increased compensation for it nor did it specify the number of days worked per week.
Points to Consider
How did the authorities discover that Bauland's business sold meat on Sundays? Could this have constituted entrapment?
What were Bauland's arguments for remission of the fine and court costs imposed?
Why was it illegal to sell meat on Sundays?
What was the average work week and wage for a common laborer at that time?