Margaret Sanger, "Detroit Jewish Socialist Branch Speech," 2 May 1916.
Source: " Limit Families: Better Humanity,, Detroit News, May 3, 1916, p. 32."
For possible drafts from this speaking tour, see Woman and Birth Control, Birth Control and Society, and Condemnation is Misunderstanding, all Apr.-June, 1916 and Birth Control (Chicago Address to Women), Apr.-May, 1916.
"Theodore Roosevelt boasted in London, Eng., that as a result of his having been president, the birth rate in the United States would go up, because of his denunciation of the so-called race suicide. You all remember what a furor his advocacy of larger families made and how openly everybody discussed the subject.
"Nobody called Roosevelt immoral for advocating larger families. I wonder if you will call me immoral for advocating small families?"
Thus Margaret H. Sanger took issue squarely with the doughty colonel at St. Andrew's hall, 111 Congress Street East Tuesday night. The auditorium and balconies were completely filled, with about as many women as men. There were few of the well-to-do present.
The audience was about equally divided between the radicals seen at all advanced thought lectures in Detroit and men and women who probably had never before heard a socialist speak, but wanted to be informed on the subject of birth control.
There were many babies with their mothers present and the fact that they were lent emphasis to the remarks of Mrs. Sanger. There were, too, a good many young people.
Mrs. Sanger is tall, plain in appearance, with a remarkably clear voice. She spoke under the auspices of the Jewish socialist branch. She considered the subject of birth control from the moral, as distinguished from the political, or business phases.
"Which is more moral," she asked, "to delude the working women into producing fodder for cannon and the munitions makers or to teach them how to prevent producing more mouths than they can feed?"
"The United States and Japan are the only so-called civilized countries in the world where it is not permitted to teach women birth," said Mrs. Sanger. "In Holland, 35 years ago they established clinics to teach this subject to women and now the infant mortality rate is reduced to the absolute minimum."
"In New York we see children between the ages of three and five years cooped in dark basements making paper flowers or rolling cigarettes. That is because the few pennies they can earn are desperately needed for the family wants."
"In the south children are forced to factories or fields when they should be visiting the old swimming hole."
"I must think of working men as merely so much produce thrown into the labor market, subject to the law of supply and demand. As long as the women of the workers are kept in ignorance of birth control they must continue to glut the market, making men cheap and enforcing a low scale of living, a scale that will only make matters worse as generation succeeds generation, each growing weaker and less capable of forcing their way to a higher standard."
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project