Margaret Sanger, "Des Moines Address Notes," 26 Jan 1925.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S70:952."
Sanger gave two speeches in Des Moines, these notes were likely for the one to the Des Moines Birth Control Committee. For coverage of her speech to the City Federation of Women's Clubs, see Regulation of Fit Children of the World, Jan. 27, 1925. No final version of this speech was found.
Mans progress seems to have begun backward-- We have paid special attention to his environment, while little attention has been given to his heritable traits.
In the early part of the 18th Century we began to take cognizance of mans environmental needs. We began to pave the streets, install sewerage systems, collect the garbage & refuse, wipe out epidemics by the organization of public health boards. By the end of the 18 Century we invaded the home & workshop. So enthusiastic had we become in cleaning up the environment of the individual--we purified the drinking water, superintended the wholesomeness of the milk supply we legislated the conditions of his working hours, cleaned up the factories & mills, gave him protection against machinery & the hazardness of his employment, shortened his labor hours, increased his pay & provided for his general environmental improvement & longevity. During all this period little attention was paid to the condition of the child--
Birth rate was higher--the death rate of children was high. Child labor took its toll of child life & damaged & blighted those little ones who were to carry on the torch of civilization.
Early in the 19th Century, the child began to come into its own.[two pages missing]
If you could look into some of the faces of the parents of children who are forced to toil & labor--you would see that laws were not enough. That you would see that these parents had not sufficient earning power to provide for their own existence-- How could they provide for eight ten or twelve?
Such children are forced to work as soon as they can toddle or to die-- Children of such parents should not be born. Child labor laws are not enough-- Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are not enough.
We want to prevent the cruelty of children being born in cruelty.
Could any thing be more cruel than to be born of disease, ignorance misery. If we are to make this world safe for childhood, safe for future generation, safe for Civilization we have got to check the endless stream of unwanted death doomed babies. This stream can not be swept back with the broom of palliative legislation--nor with the feather duster of Organized Charity. It must be checked at the Source by Birth Control.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project