Margaret Sanger, "Address on Dismissal of Woman Rebel," .
Source: "New York Tribune, Feb. 21, 1916, p. 2."
Speech delivered at the Bandbox Theater to celebrate the dismissal of The Woman Rebel case. Sanger's remarks were not found; the press account has been used instead.
A prima donna on a farewell tour could have justifiably envied the enthusiastic reception given Mrs. Margaret Sanger at the Bandbox Theatre last evening.
When the little woman, plainly garbed in a brown suit of corduroy, stepped to the front of the stage she was greeted with an outburst of applause which lasted ten minutes.
The playhouse was jammed. Hundreds were refused admission, and what was to have been a meeting tendered to a martyr became a jubilee accorded a victor.
Birth control was the topic of the evening, but this important subject was shelved at times for criticism of the Federal authorities, the unsympathetic public and the newspapers.
Prosecution was called persecution, the newspapers were thanked for advertising, "The Little Rebel,"and Mrs. Sanger herself brought a burst of applause when she declared: "You can no longer say the courts do not serve their purpose, for in helping to promote the fight for birth control they have more than served a purpose.
Mrs. Marion B. Cothren, presiding, introduced Mrs. Sanger as "the little woman who has taken the first big step in this country which will ultimately lift the ban on birth control."
"Women want birth control in this country, and organized action will bring it about. Publicity will hasten it," said Mrs. Sanger.
"When birth control leagues are established here we will soon resolve all social problems, such as mental defectiveness, deformity, settlement problems and child labor conditions. We will practically wipe out infant mortality. I have made a study of conditions abroad and have a message for you to-night." Holland has the lowest death rate of infants in the world. There they have fifty-seven clinics for teaching birth control in most densely populated districts."
"In France conditions are just the opposite, and the infant mortality is the highest in the world, because the authorities and clergy have fought birth control. England is almost in the same condition. There is a greater need in this country for the work. The facilities and equipment are much better. We can outstrip all Europe in ten years if this matter is taken up. The trouble over here is that we are regulated by conventions."
"Pardon me if I refuse to thank the government because I am now free and no longer a criminal. How kind of the government after a persecution of two years to tell the people of New York I am an orderly person. Two years ago I was branded."
"Tonight I thank the grand jury for indicting me. I thank the Federal authorities for fanning the flame, and I thank the dear newspapers for publicity. They have done wonders to arouse interest in birth control."
Mrs. Sanger, who will leave in two weeks to establish clinics in several Western cities, charged the government with "contemptible spying" into her home, and said overtures were continually made to compromise the case.
"Why, the United States Attorney," she declared, "declared to me that the birth control reading matter would be all right if written for an American magazine, but written in such direct, plain and simple language was too much for the United States mails."
The birth control movement has the hearty sanction of at least one New York physician. Dr. A.L. Goldwater, brother of the former Health Commissioner, assailed brother members of his profession.
"Half the physicians are opposed to birth control," he said, "because it will cut down their incomes. This is a work the medical profession should be identified with. I am pleased to give it my hearty endorsement. It is unfortunate you have to defy the law to crystallize public sentiment."
Emma Goldman, who will face trial next Monday for alleged indiscreet utterances on birth control, lost an opportunity to speak at the conclusion of the meeting. A sympathizer made an eloquent plea for her, but when he glanced about she was not in the audience.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project