Margaret Sanger, "An Urgent Appeal in the Tresca Case," Jan 1925.

Source: " Birth Control Review, Jan. 1925, p. 4 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S71:14."

The author of the petition that Sanger circulated in this article was the American Civil Liberties Union.

An Urgent Appeal in the Tresca Case

On November 23, 1923, Carlo Tresca, editor of Il Martello , an Italian anti-Fascisti weekly, was convicted of the crime of publishing in his paper a two-line advertisement of a book on Birth Control. On November 10, 1924, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence of a year and a day in Atlanta Penitentiary. The miscarriage of justice in this sentence is indicated in the endorsement by a number of prominent people to Mr. Tresca's application to President Coolidge for a commutation of sentence. The formal endorsement reads, in part, as follows:

"The petitioner was convicted upon one count only in an indictment containing eight counts under Section 211 of the U.S. Criminal Code, for offense of causing to be mailed an advertisement giving information as to how and by what means conception may be prevented. The advertisement was of a book, the Italian title of which literally translated, means the art of how not to create children. The other seven counts of the indictment charged the mailing of this book and other books. On these seven counts the petitioner was not convicted, but the owner of the bookstore at which the books were mailed, testified that he himself had mailed the books, and furthermore that he had inserted the advertisement in the paper while petitioner was absent on his vacation. This bookstore owner, subsequently indicted for the same offenses, pleaded guilty and has served four months.

"The petitioner's conviction on the eighth count has been sustained by the Circuit Court of Appeals and is undoubtedly sound, though it must be pointed out that not only was there no evidence that he had any actual knowledge of the advertisement but that there was undisputed evidence (a) that he denied actual knowledge of it (b) that he was away on vacation at the time; and (c) that the other man, who subsequently pleaded guilty and served his sentence, was the man who had knowledge of any who inserted the advertisement. It should further be pointed out that the actual issue of the paper containing the advertisement never reached the eye of a single member of the reading public. It was stopped and returned by the post office authorities and only remailed when the offending advertisement had been physically deleted.

"Under the circumstances outlined above, it is urged that to cause this man to serve a penitentiary sentence of a year and a day is not in accordance with the real ends of justice. The principal offender in the case received and served four months.

"In other similar federal cases, so far as available records show, only small fines have been imposed; and in similar cases under state laws the average sentence was 30 days, and the longest six months."

We earnestly appeal to all our readers to join in this protest to President Coolidge against the punishment of an innocent man.


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