Margaret Sanger, "The History of the Hunger-Strike," Aug 1914.

Source: " The Woman Rebel, Aug. 1914, p. 46 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:560."


THE HISTORY OF THE HUNGER-STRIKE

Becky Edelsohn began her activities at Union Square at the first unemployed demonstration at Union Square, (March 21st), and since that time has been very active in various meetings, especially at Franklin Square Statue. She was arrested there once before, for making a collection for the unemployed, but was discharged by the Magistrate who claimed that she had as much right to make a collection as the Salvation Army. At the declaration of war with Mexico she organized the meeting at Franklin Statue on April 22nd. She was arrested for speaking against the war and sentenced by Magistrate Sims to give a bond of $300 to keep the peace for three months. She defended her own case in Court and made a splendid stand for Free Speech. Magistrate Simms told her that the bond would not prevent her from speaking in public but whenever a policeman ordered her to stop she would have to do so. Miss Edelsohn refused to be censored by the police and refused to give the bond of $300. She declared a hunger-strike if sent to prison, as a protest against her sentence of ninety days imprisonment. She was sent to the workhouse but was transferred to the City Prison, Long Island. The Free Speech League appealed her case meanwhile getting Miss Edelsohn out of bail, April 25th, which for the time being terminated her hunger strike.

Pending her appeal Miss Edelsohn continued her agitation against the United States becoming involved in war with Mexico and for the sympathetic strike for the miners in Colorado. It was in connection with this work that she participated in the meetings at Tarrytown where she was arrested with fourteen others for attempting to speak on the Colorado situation at Fountain Square, Tarrytown, N.Y.

The Tarrytown prisoners were re-released on bail pending trial, and Miss Edelsohn continued her agitation in behalf of Labor.

Justice Crane of the Appellate sustained the sentence of the lower Court. On July 20th Miss Edelsohn was again called for sentence. She was given the option of a bond for $300 to keep the peace or go to jail for ninety days. She refused the bond. As a protest against her unjust sentence she at once declared a hunger-strike in Court. She was sent to the workhouse, Blackwell's Island, and has since then been carrying on her hunger-strike refusing both food and water. She is held in a veritable Spanish incommunicado. The authorities refusing her visitors or to receive or send any mail. She is denied the regular privileges of other prisoners. Only once was her lawyer, Mr. Sheffield permitted to see her and that was when he had to serve the writ of habeas corpus to bring Miss Edelsohn as a witness for the Tarrytown trial cases. No friend has been permitted to either visit her or communicate with her, though a sub rosa route has been established.

In her last letters Miss Edelsohn informed her friends that she is suffering mental and physical torture, but she is determined to keep up her strike as a protest against the injustice done her even if her determination should involve the sacrifice of her life.

The prison authorities have been spreading false reports to the effect that Miss Edelsohn has been taking food tablets and drinking water. Those statements are false. Miss Edelsohn has been taking neither food nor water except at times when taking laxative pills. She is now in a very low condition as she is liable to collapse at any time. Her friends fear that her health has been ruined beyond repair and that her further imprisonment will prove fatal. They demand her immediate release.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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