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Margaret Sanger, "To the Editor of MOTHER EARTH," Apr 1915.

Source: " Mother Earth, Apr. 1915, pp. 75-78 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S1:420."


Dear Comrade-- In the November number of your publication, I have read with pleasure an article by Harry Breckenridgeon my case. Through your columns I wish to thank Comrade Breckenridge for his article and also the other comrades of the Ferrer School who, I understand, have also attempted to get up some agitation on the case.

It may not be known to the readers of MOTHER EARTH that there are three federal indictments against me, based on the March, May and July issues of The Woman Rebel. It may be supposed that though I might get away with these three indictments based soley on an opinion of obscenity, there remains the August, September and October issues, which were suppressed, and contain material for further forthcoming indictments. So that if I were to fool about defending myself in the courts, I would be forced to spend half the winter dallying about at the beck and call of a few officials.

When the case first came up in August before Judge Hazel, I was not placed under bail, but allowed to go on my own recognizance. When the case was called in October before Judge Foster, I had no objection to the case going on the day it was fixed on the calendar, and said that I was ready to proceed. When, however, day after day dragged on, and I was supposed to sit at the end of a telephone awaiting the call of the District Attorney, I objected.

I asked for a postponement in order to do many things I had to do. The Judge refused a postponement. Thrice he refused it, and the only natural thing for me to do was to take it myself, which I did.

There is other work more important to me than fussing over an opinion of obscenity, which is all the case against me was based on. There was no information concerning the prevention of contraception given in the columns of my papers; consequently the only things the case was based on were the questions or articles in those three issues which advocated the prevention of conception--articles considered "obscene" "filthy" and "vile."

So far as the freedom of the press is concerned, it is a most important issue, and one which concerns everybody in the United States. Especially does it concern us in the revolutionary movement, for it is here that we need the freedom of expressing our ideas and our thoughts, because they are in direct oppositiion to the prevailing and stagnant ideas of the day.

But I began a fight for the right of giving out information on the prevention of contraception. That is my present and immediate work; and I am not to have that work sidetracked by an opinion on "obscenity"-- even though it involves Free Speech, I shall do this first. When I have said all that I have to say and all others have said on this subject, I shall turn to take up the fight of the suppression and confiscation of the five issues of The Woman Rebel, and fight for its continuation.

We who have lost faith in the justice of the Courts of law are bound to work out a different method to achieve our purposes than those who still fall into the trap of its ponderous machinery. So that if the way I work may not be along the lines that other comrades have followed, I can only ask your patience and faith in my sincerity in doing what I consider the best and quickest way to accomplish my object. There are always various opinions on these questions and all that we can ask is that each comrade do that which out of his or her years of experience and reflection seems the cleanest and most direct from the revolutionary standpoint.

Again, some of the comrades have sighed and criticized me for mixing the issues, as they say--declaring that had I not published the article on the defence of assasination by Herbert A Thorpe, that all the rest would have been easy. I take this opportunity to state that I have no apology to make for publishing that article. There would have been no objection to an article against assassination, and if free speech and free press mean anything in the United States, certainly that article, reasoning and scientific, has a right to be published and read and discussed. That one may or may not agree with the material in the article is not the point. The point is that Mr. Thorpe had an opinion on a question which at that time was the cause of throwing all of Europe into a state of war. And he has the right to express his opinion.

The work I am at present engaged in will take at least several weeks longer, I shall then continue the trial.

There is one fact which naturally assuages my conscience, and that is that the Federal Authorities will always be there to receive me at any time I decdie to turn up. I think I can safely say they will still be "on the job: to gather me into their "fold."

I will frankly say that I was keenly disappointed at the silence of MOTHER EARTH in regard to this outrageous tyrannical attitude of the Post Office authorities toward The Woman Rebel. I expect very little publicity on this "delicate subject" from the capitalist press, but naturally I look for an attitude of solidarity and comradeship from the radical press.

But as the indictments were returned in August and there were three suppressions since March--and not a word in any paper until November, it makes one feel quite alone in a fight that so concerns the workers and all of us. However I wish to express my thanks to those comrades who have written me encouraging and sympathizing letters, and to those who are furthering and spreading the propaganda. Gather together all those interested in its spreading influence and together we will fight for the open and free discussion of this subject which so vitally concerns every working man and woman.


The financial burden of The Woman Rebel and all this propaganda has been carried on almost alone. I can not continue it much longer unless some financial help comes along. If the propaganda has been worth a little to you, let me know.


" Margaret Sanger promised to keep MOTHER EARTH posted on the status of her case, which she failed to do until August--too late for our issue. The September and October numbers of MOTHER EARTH were devoted entirely to the unemployed and anti-militarist agitations. However, during all of that time, we pushed The Woman Rebel and discussed its editor's case before thousands of people throughout the country. Under the circumstances it seems very unfair on the part of our comrade to accuse MOTHER EARTH of indifference. But then it is human to feel neglected when one faces one's first great battle with the powers that be, in behalf of an unpopular cause."

""We understand our comrade and assure her that MOTHER EARTH and those connected with her never have and never will hesitate to stand by our brave friend, Margaret H. Sanger."


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