Blue Laws

NC Minute Masthead

Laws passed to keep people from doing bad things and to make them behave are sometimes called “Blue Laws.” In Colonial times, some of the colonies, and North Carolina was no exception, were very severe with people getting drunk or using bad words. Our forefathers believed in keeping holy the Sabbath day, being sober, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain.

The North Carolina General Assembly in 1741 passed some very strict laws about how people should behave. One of these laws required everyone to attend church, do not work and have no amusements on the Sabbath. The punishment for violating this law was a fine of fourteen shillings for each offense. A fine of two shillings and six pence was imposed on a private person using bad and/or profane language, but an officer using bad language was fined five shillings for each offense. All fines were paid in English money.

Any person using bad language in the presence of a court of justice was fined ten shillings and confined three hours in the stocks. A fine of two and one-half shillings was the punishment for drunkenness if on a weekday and twice that amount if on Sunday.