Margaret Sanger, "Engineer's Auditorium Speech," 15 March 1928.
Source: " Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress.LCM 130:0725B."
Sanger gave this address at a mass meeting sponsored by the American Birth Control League, New York Woman's City Club, Junior League, New York City League of Women Voters, and other organizations, held in New York's Engineering Auditorium, at 33 West 39th Street. Held in support of New York Assembly Bill 1084, others appearing with Sanger were Rose Halpern, Ira S. Wile, Karl Reiland, and Eleanor Dwight Jones. For another excerpt from this speech, see "Address on Return from Europe, March 15, 1928."
It has long been hoped by some of us that a sound international population program might be advanced. We have seen that manuala broader bird’s eye view of the problem was necessary if it was to fit international and modern conditions. It was quite natural that the militarist should look upon the subject only with a view of armies; the demographer with the number of births, deaths, marriages in a given city, country over a given period.
The anthropologist is concerned with the division into races within a population, especially in respect to their adaptability and the effect of social selection and colonization, while the economist, biologist and statistician--each expert in his own line--was bound to propose measures according to the limits of his inquiries; consequently, formidable errors were bound to arise when it came to practical issues.
It was with this in mind that I went to Europe for the objects of bringing together scientists from various countries of different departments to correlate their views, experiments and programs, and to establish, if possible, a permanent organization for further studies and research along population lies.
This Population Union has now been launched and it is hoped that there will be a recognition through their studies of the fact that there can be no solution to the population problem without the recognition of the human factors which make this problem. I refer to the parents who produce populations--and especially the mothers who bear and rear the children.
The intelligent thinkers in Europe, many with whom I had conversed, believe that the empty spaces on the globe are becoming rare; that populations are so increasing in every country that governments are at a loss to know how to deal with the problems arising therefrom; that Europe is today faced with a problem of having more men than bread, and this problem has become acute, because of the attitude of the United States, Australia and Canada in their recent immigration legislation.
It is now recognized that each country needs its own available food supply. Each country is guarding its own labor market, fearing unrest, unemployment and revolution. Soon every nation will reserve its potential resources for its own people, and already most of the European countries have overdrawn on their margin of self-sufficiency. Germany, Italy, Poland and all the central European countries should be encouraged to limit their population to their natural resources, but they are all dreaming of colonization, for colonization over seas was the solution of overpopulated Europe since the conquest of the Atlantic.
There is no doubt that this has made civilization almost worldwide, and yet, there are doubts that this solution was of permanent value, for we now see that economic greed caused nations to overlook fundamental principles, and the future potentialities of nations have been sacrificed for immediate gain.
Colonial expansion is still the dream of those militarists who clamor for big battalions of babies, and we see from the past that colonization has aroused a hatred of peaceful nations against the white race, and everywhere in Asia is the growing determination to free themselves from their political domination.
Immigration legislation in the United States has caused much bitterness in Europe, for there is current a feeling that various nations have expended through generations much of their most valuable human material in order to furnish America with ready-made workmen--skilled in the arts and crafts--thereby impoverishing herself of valuable stocks, with the obvious results of creating a rival, today more powerful than all of Europe combined.
America, on the other hand, considers that she has been overstocked with undesirable elements; that her dream of the melting-pot of assimilating the various races, colors, grades of mentalities through education by an American type of intelligence, has not succeeded. She now regrets her mistake, and has established a rigid system of immigration barriers for her own national and racial protection; and one can assume that from the Immigration Act of 1924, the United States Government recognizes that there is a population problem in this country; that the resources of the land are limited; that unrestricted population increase through unrestricted immigration is bound to invite disaster to the social and racial life of the country. Consequently, a bar is raised to the free entrance of aliens into the United States, and even, when by the quota such aliens are given permission to enter the country, there are still social considerations to be grappled with.
The government claims the right to exclude immigrants whose condition is likely to be a source of danger to the well-being and happiness of the country. Thus there are excluded all idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, persons of psychopathic inferiority, persons afflicted with tuberculosis in any form, or with any loathsome, dangerous or contagious disease, paupers, professional beggars, vagabonds, persons likely to become a public charge, polygamists, anarchists, criminals, prostitutes, or persons coming to U.S. for purposes of prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose. There are also provisions for the exclusion of illiterates, or of persons 16 years of age, physically capable of reading, but who cannot read English or some other language. All are refused admission into U.S.A. The procedure for the enforcement of these restrictive and selective measures is mandatory. Detailed regulations are laid down for the examination of these immigrants before entry, and for their deportation in case of exclusion.
The government goes even further than this, for even after entrance the government reserves the right to pursue the policy of selection in such cases of criminals or those who have become a public charge--even five years after entry--are liable to deportation at any time.
In no other immigration country is the restrictive policy carried out so far as in U.S.A. This rigid policy of the U.S. Government is the result of its short-sightedness in the past, for while this government never openly encouraged immigration, she took up a neutral attitude toward the question until 1914. She was much like the parents who--not really knowing what shall happen if their family continues to grow--nevertheless do nothing to prevent it. She now has had to adopt a negative, selective quota where she might have in the past adopted a positive, selective quota, and this country would today have been in a position to deal intelligently with some of the intricate problems that she is today unable to face.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project