Margaret Sanger, "Early History of Birth Control in England and the United States," 1929.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S73:67."


It is interesting to recall the Early history of the bc Movement & to see the relation the Movement in both England & U.S. have had to each other all along.

The Besant & Bradlaugh trial centered around the little pamphlet Dr. Charles Knowlton had written forty years before that trial.

It contained all the then known methods of contraception (there has not been much improvement since in that knowledge) & was a very big step forward in the practical means of controlling the size of the family as advocated by Malthus nearly fifty years before Knowlton wrote the Fruits of Philosophy.

Just about the time Great Britain was discussing the pros & cons of the Besant and Bradlaugh case.

The Purity Society was there organizing itself for the ↑avowed↓ purpose of rescuing children from the influence of sex literature. Anthony Comstock was the principle spokesman for the Society & he made his comments & laws on the plea that children were being contaminated by the flood of ↑obscene↓ literature coming to this country from England & France. It was a most telling plea--a most noble purpose to stop it at all costs.

Consequently when Comstock went to Congress to present his bill on obscenity, it was rushed through on the last day amid great hurry & confusion. There it has remained unchallenged to the present time.

It is said that the following year a petition sent to Congress containing 60,000 signatures requested its repeal--but nothing ever came of that. Since that law was passed in 1876 over one million mothers have passed out ↑of life↓ from causes due to pregnancy, while 15 million children under one year of age have been sacrificed ↑of life↓ thru poverty & neglect.

Parents who could bring up two or three healthy children, educate them & make them decent citizens in the community are forced (through lack of knowledge of contraception) to bring to birth eight, nine, or ten children.

It is from these we have infant mortality, child labor, delinquent & juvenile problems for the courts, slums, ignorance, unemployment & the various other disturbing conditions of our modern life which costs the lively sum of twelve billions of dollars a year & we're still going strong!

Is there any wonder we have so great a differential birth rate?

How can the intelligent, conscientious & responsible parents in the country do more than maintain themselves & their limited family of 1 or 2 children in decency, where the burdens of the unfit, the reckless & prolific fall heavily upon their backs.

The birth rate of the intelligent conscientious educated classes of Society will adjust itself when the birth rate of the diseased (physically & mentally) is cut down--when mothers have a chance to space their children consistently with health & earning power.

You can do two definite things to help Senators & Representatives woo & [win?] these finance us--

Help us to amend Sec 211--by two letters. Write to your Congressmen--Senator & your representative, tell him simply what you believe--He’s impressed by the force & power of the women’s movement but he believes what men say.

Sir Arthur Keith, England’s distinguished anthropologist says of America it’s the greatest experiment in race building the world has ever seen spiritual unfoldment--instruments of creation


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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