Margaret Sanger, "The Nineteenth Century," no date.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 131:78B."
No published version has been found. This draft may be part of a longer document.
That the 19th century can well be called the greatest period in our history of social amelioration is an undisputed fact.
The development of industry and invention during the second half of the 18th century produced an upheaval in our social structure which called urgently for such amelioration.
Machinery had destroyed the old-fashioned rough but simple life or rural industry under the domestic roof. The workers were huddled together in towns under conditions which, while they prospered and increased and multiplied, caused a dislocation in our civilization.
The conditions existing during the first half of the 19th century in Great Britain and elsewhere seem almost unbelievable to most of us today. In many of the rural districts which by industrial expansion had become urban there were miles of streets and hundreds of miles of byways, but only a few miles were sewered. The streets were reservoirs for dirt and filth of all kinds; garbage, rubbish were heaped in evil-smelling piles and occasionally a few decrepit old men were stationed to haul them away. Disease, epidemics flourished. The people who lived under these conditions were indifferent to them. They were reckless, intemperate, improvident, multiplying carelessly, and leaving to death and disease the control of population.
The 19th century saw the beginning of a vast change in improving the conditions of life under which lived the creators of the new industrial era.
Streets were paved, sewers built, filth cleared away, police system installed; pure water, lighting and general sanitary conditions of dwelling and town received attention. The need for these was obvious, and almost no opposition met their demands; but when reforms under which the working people toiled were advocated, they met with strong opposition.
Factory legislation had a long and bitter struggle, but finally became part of a democratic programme--where the workers themselves took part in laying down the conditions which they regarded as suitable to their work.
This consideration of the worker extended to the improvement of conditions under which they lived and were born. This, then, included education, cleanliness, medical inspection and supervision.
Here we find the extension of consideration for the children in schools, in factories, in infancy, and even consideration for the child before it is born.
All this consideration was stressed upon the environment. The 19th century has concerned with improving conditions of life--but has made no effort to improve the quality of life itself.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project