Margaret Sanger, "Raymond St. Jail Remarks," 5 Feb 1917.
Source: " Liberty Scorned By Mrs. Sanger, New York Tribune, Feb. 6, 1917, p. 9."
The following article quotes Sanger's remarks made during her trial for opening the Brownsville birth control clinic.
Mrs. Margaret Sanger was confronted in the Court of Special Sessions, Brooklyn, yesterday with the choice of spending thirty days on Blackwell's Island or of promising hereafter to observe the law in her campaign for the legalization of birth control. She turned her back upon the offer made by Justices Freschi, O'Keefe and Herman, and replied calmly:
“I cannot respect the law as it stands to-day.”
Then she was sentenced for maintaining her birth control clinic at 45 Amboy Street, Brooklyn, and left the courtroom to serve her time. She will not go on a hunger strike.
“So far as I am concerned,” said Mrs. Sanger in Raymond Street jail, “I have accomplished as much as is possible at this time. We have aroused public opinion and created an agitation which will bear fruit. I shall submit to finger-printing, if that is necessary, and I intend to obey all workhouse regulations. What do trifles like that matter when you are working for a great cause?
“I am happier than if I had been acquitted. Expecting to be sentenced, I came all prepared.” Mrs. Sanger then showed two books which are to be her companions for the next month-- 'Julius Lavallon,' by Algernon Blackwood, and 'Lessons in Truth,' by H. Emil Cady. “I intend to study prison conditions while I am in the workhouse and shall make a report upon my release,” Mrs. Sanger resumed. “It is also my intention to carry on my work not only after I am released, but while I am doing my bit.
“It was impossible for me to accept the offer of the court to suspend sentence. I could not promise to give up my life work. You cannot change the color of your soul any more than the color of your eyes.”
Before sentencing Mrs. Sanger, Justice Freschi said: "If you promise faithfully to obey the law in future this court will exercise extreme clemency." “I will promise to obey the law pending the appeal of my case to a higher court,” Mrs. Sanger answered, later refusing to give an unqualified promise.
When Mrs. Sanger was led from the courtroom to the prison van she headed a procession of eight handcuffed men. As they were about to leave the building one of her friends rushed up with a cup of coffee, which she hurriedly swallowed. A bundle of sandwiches shoved into her hands by another friend, were distributed among the men prisoners. Miss Fannie Mindell, who acted as interpreter at the Brownsville clinic, was fined $50. This was paid by Mrs. Amos Pinchot on behalf of the Committee of One Hundred.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project