Margaret Sanger, "Overpopulation: A Cause of War," 17 Jan 1937.

Source: " Urges Birth Control To Keep World Peace, New York Times, Jan. 18, 1937 Overcrowding Peril Discussed By Mrs. Sanger, Washington Post, Jan. 18, 1937."

Sanger spoke at the Washington Town Hall, the event also featured Rev. Russell J. Clinchy and Frederick C. Howe. Her speech was not found, the text below is drawn from press coverage.

Urges Birth Control to Keep World Peace

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17.--

Asserting that rapidly increasing populations of Germany, Italy and Japan are a menace to peace because of the “inevitable need” for territorial expansion, Mrs. Margaret Sanger pleaded tonight before a Washington Town Hall audience that birth control was necessary if world peace was to be assured.

The international leader of the birth-control movement scored the motives of Chancellor Hitler and Premier Mussolini in urging population increases in their countries. She declared that war was inevitable unless the rapid gain in births was halted.

Mrs. Sanger said health officials estimated that 3.1 acres were needed to produce food and clothing necessary for one person to live ideally; 1.8 acres necessary for health, and 1.2 acres were absolutely necessary for existence. She pointed out that, within a few years, the tillable land in the three countries would not be sufficient to sustain life properly, and then, she added, “the explosion will come.” Japan’s “seizure” of Manchukuo and Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia, she said, were necessary for them to acquire the land to sustain the populations and offer some outlet for their surplus populations.

In so far as the United States was concerned, Mrs. Sanger said, of the 4,500,000 births recorded during the present depression, 65 per cent came in families on relief. She declared that “relief is not a temporary situation,” and that the problem could be best solved through birth control.

“We have increased that strata of our population that we do not need,” she said.

Overcrowding Peril Discussed by Mrs. Sanger

Birth control, crop control, the machine age and the slaughter of the AAA’s little pigs were debated last night at the Town Hall of Washington after Mrs. Margaret Sanger spoke on “Overpopulation- A Cause of War.”

Mrs. Sanger called for a 25-year moratorium on population increase in the world as a method of assuring peace, but members of the discussion panel contended that redistribution of natural resources and more efficient methods of distributing the products of industry was the solution.

Contending that warlike tendencies in Germany, Italy and Japan were the result of overpopulation, Mrs. Sanger advocated making birth control an important function of every State and municipal health department. She warned that the world is approaching the day when it cannot support its population.

Isador Lubin, commissioner of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, declared the world has not yet begun to intelligently approach the problem of supporting its population. “We have a fetish that everyone should work all of the time,” he said. “We must utilize the full capacity of industrial machines and to distribute work and income that persons could retire early and live well.”

Both Lubin and Mrs. Sanger agreed that while crops were being plowed under and pigs slaughtered in this country because of “overproduction,” the farmers were not producing enough to support the population.

The Rev. Russell J. Clinchy, pastor of the Mount Pleasant Congregational Church, said the intelligent approach to birth control called for discarding the theory that relations between married couples not intended to produce children were carnal.

The audience cut short a speech by Frederick C. Howe, special assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, while he was contending that lust for power was responsible for wars and advocating restricting the freedom of the press. The audience demanded Howe put his remarks in a question to Mrs. Sanger.

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project