Margaret Sanger, "Modern Motherhood and Child Slavery," 30 Jan 1921.

Source: " Long Beach California Press, Jan. 30, 1921."

This article was introduced by an editorial note: "Margaret Sanger is the author of a number of books and has for many years been identified with the science of eugenics in this country and England. She had two fine boys now in college and a home life such as we like to think of as typical of the best in America.

Modern Motherhood and Child Slavery


Child labor is a most grievous blot upon civilization. Those who have looked carefully into the problem know that is one of the cruelest of all modern social evil and that when the full accounting is made, one of the most far reaching in its blighting effects.

For many years, various agencies have fought hard to awaken the people of the United States to the evils and perils of permitting children to work their lives away in mills, factories and the streets. Chief among these agencies today is the national child labor committee which with heroic persistence and unflagging faith has sought to abolish this curse. This powerful group, always on guard, unceasing in its aggressive efforts, commanding a great following, has been leading the battle for humanity since 1904. Despite its utmost efforts, however, there are in the United States today, according to its own authoritative estimate, some 2,500,000 child workers, whose lives are being spent unprofitably, wastefully, cruelly, upon industry. And these millions represent just so much racial energy taken from future generations. And many of them are to become the mentally, physically and spiritually incompetent parents of weaklings, who will carry on the impoverished family strains for many generations.

Child labor can never be wiped out by legislation. The roots of this evil weed strike deeper than statutes. They spring from the disregard of natural and spiritual laws-they draw their sustenance from over-population.

How narrow, how pitifully puny has become motherhood against its chains? The modern motherhood enfolds one or two adorning children of its own blood, and cherishes, protects and loves them. It does not reach out to all children. When motherhood is a high privilege, not a sordid, slavish requirement, it will encircle all. Its deep, passionate intensity will overflow the limits of blood relationship. Its beauty will shine upon all, for its beauty is of the soul, whose power of enfoldment is unbounded.

While there is a surplus population, under the present social and industrial order, there will be child labor. As long as homes are crowded beyond the sustaining power of the father's wages, children will go to work.

It is high time that everyone in the United States awakened to the gravity of the situation.

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project