“A Professedly National Secular Show”: The Chicago World’s Fair and the American Sabbath
This chapter examines the last great battle of the nineteenth century over Sabbath laws. The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was widely anticipated as a great celebration of national progress. But it became a forum for arguing over the relationship between religion and government when Sabbatarians tried to ensure its gates would be shut on Sundays. In response, a motley group of secularists—Seventh-Day Adventists, labor reformers, feminists, and others—petitioned to ensure the Fair opened seven days a week. The outcome would show the entrenched public hostility to anything that smacked of religious fanaticism.