The Sin That Is Bathing

In his history of of American economic growth, Empire of Wealth, John Steele Gordon discusses the importance of the provision of clean municipal water supplies to the growing industrial cities of America’s east coast. The rich had cisterns, the poor hauled water from contaminated wells, and nobody had very much of the stuff. Indoor plumbing was, to its first users, a delight, and he describes the luxury of soaking in a tub without having to heat water on the stove. But did it come with a cost to our eternal souls? Gordon writes:

Boston, ever vigilant against the possibility that people might be enjoying themselves on the Sabbath, banned bathing on Sundays.