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[7 Mar 1917]
[Statement on Release from Prison]
Mrs. Sanger Out After Balking at Fingerprints,
New York Call, Mar. 7, 1917
New York Call
Sanger spoke and answered questions at a luncheon at the Hotel Lafayette
immediately after being released from Queens County Penitentiary.
birth control, arrests and imprisonment
Sanger, Margaret, arrests
MRS. SANGER OUT AFTER BALKING FINGERPRINTS
Mrs. Margaret Sanger, birth control advocate, who completed her 30-day sentence
yesterday, won a two-hour fight with the authorities yesterday morning when they
attempted to take her finger prints before leaving Queens county penitentiary.
Because she persisted in her refusal to submit to this bit of red tape imposed
upon ordinary criminals, her sentence was prolonged two hours and a half. Her
followers, who had arrived to welcome her at 7:30 o'clock, were kept waiting in
the icy wind till 10:30.
Warden Joseph McCann went to Mrs. Sanger
the night before her release and told her that by order of Commissioner Lewis, she would have to
remain under lock and key until she was finger printed. Immediately after her
sentence was pronounced and all through her imprisonment Mrs. Sanger had refused
to submit to what she regarded as an indignity.
Struggled for Two Hours.
"It is time the authorities learned to discriminate between political criminals,
those who are fighting for ideals, and cutthroats. Warden McCann has been very
nice about it, as he has about everything else during my term here. But they
kept after him to get the finger prints. He had to get two keepers, Murray and Foley, and they were unable to force me. The struggle lasted for
two hours, until both the keepers and I were worn out. Then an officer came in and said that he had received a
telephone message from the commissioner to set me free."
During the three long hours of waiting, Mrs. Sanger's friends paced
up and down the icy walks outside. An automobile waited her return to
civilization and a patient movie man stood valiantly by his camera and froze
his toes while the struggle was waging behind prison walls.
Mrs. Ethel Byrne, who
had been sentenced to 30 days at Blackwells island and who had been released after a hunger strike
which lasted 11 days, was eagerly waiting for her sister, oblivious to the
Jonah J. Goldstein, Mrs.
Sanger's attorney, was among those who waited, and Mrs. Elizabeth Stuyvesant, at one time
sought by the police on a birth control charge; Mrs. Eugene P. Stone, sister of Dr.
Percy Stickney Grant; Dr.
Frederick Blossom, Miss
Mrs. Rose Halperin, Prof. Robert A. Lesher of Columbia, Miss Carolyn Patch and Miss Kitty Marion.
Sing the Marseillaise.
Miss Marion, who is a militant suffragist from England,
and who had hunger struck and been forcibly fed innumerable times, led the
assembly in the singing of the Marseillaise.
Attracted by the sound, the inmates of the penitentiary clustered at the
windows, opening them so that they could hear better. One feebly joined in, but
her voice emphasized the cheerless silence of the others.
When at last, Mrs. Sanger came out amid loud cheers, Mrs. Halperin,
president of the Brownsville Mothers Birth Control league, rushed
forward and pushed a huge bunch of roses and lilies in her arm.
"From the Brownsville mothers,"
she said. And, although later in the day, Mrs. Sanger was overwhelmed
with flowers from Mrs. Amos
Pinchot, and Mrs. Augustus
Hope, she wore her clients' flowers all day.
With loud cheers that her prisoners at the window took up, Mrs. Sanger
was driven away to the Hotel Lafayette, where she received the first cup of
coffee she had tasted for a month, she said.
During the luncheon-breakfast she was overwhelmed with questions as to
her future plans.
"The fight has been going on all month," she said. "I haven't lost
any time. Every day, I had clinics among the prisoners. The statement was given out
in one of the papers, Mr. Goldstein tells me, to the effect that I hadn't opened my
mouth about my work since I entered the penitentiary. That is not true. Many of the
women were waiting for me and the information that I had to give them. There isn't a
soul in Queens County penitentiary that hasn't the information now."
Because Mrs. Sanger has still to face the charge of conducting a public
nuisance, she will not be able to go far on the lecture trip that has been
planned for her by the Birth Control
league. She does not expect to travel beyond Chicago, although the trip was planned to the Pacific.
Washes Off Prison Air.
Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Sanger splashed ecstatically around in
Fleischmann's Baths. "I want to get washed all over," she
said. In the evening she went to see Isadora Duncan.
"Already I feel fit to begin my work again," she said.
Mrs. Sanger will spend the day with her two children at Lake Grove, Long Island, where they are
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project