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2014-06-24 MM transcribe and encode 2015-01-08 CH proof tags and enter 2015-03-09 CH recheck tags 2015-07-10 EK correct proof and update index 2015-07-08 MC transcribed and encoded2015-08-10 CH reg doc title Margaret Sanger 26 Jan 1923 [Hagerstown Woman's Club Speech (Excerpts)] msp422014 Mrs. Sanger Makes Plea For Birth Control Before A Large Audience Here , Morning Herald (Hagerstown, Jan. 27, 1923, pp. 1 and 3. Hagerstown Morning Herald Sanger spoke at Stouffer's Dance Academy on behalf of the Woman's Club of Halfway after the YWCA refused to allow her. For a a statement likely drawn from this speech see "Statement on Flappers," Jan. 27, 1923.
  • birth rate
  • population size, and birth control
  • population size, and birth rate
  • family size, and poverty
  • family size, class-based
  • family size, MS on
  • birth control, and natural law
  • birth control, morality of
  • client letters
  • mortality rates, infant
  • birth control laws and legislation, Comstock Laws
  • Mrs. Sanger Makes Plea For Birth Control Before A Large Audience Here

    "Don't let prejudice and ignorance wipe out civilization," was the plea made by Margaret Sanger, New York, President of the American Birth Control League, speaking to one thousand and 68 men and women who packed Stouffer's Academy last night to hear her speak. The "special officers" who Mayor Bowman said he would have placed in the audience to safeguard the morals of the community by what Mrs. Sanger might say on rational parenthood, hid themselves well. If any special officers "chaperones" as Mrs. Sanger laughingly referred to them, were present they were in plain clothes, and as no one in the audience was sufficiently offended to start a riot, the officers did not make themselves conspicuous. Only one disturbance occurred during the lecture. Shortly after Mrs. Sanger started speaking a young lady was overcome by the closeness of the air and fainted. She was quickly revived however and there was no excitement. "Countries having highest birth rates are those which have not increased in population while those having low birth rates--such as Australia--have increased in population. Control of the birth rate is an aid to increased population because higher death rates always accompany large birth rates, the speaker explained. Prejudice and ignorance are the two factors fighting the movement to allow control of the birth rate, and eventually will lead back to a degenerate civilization." "The world is divided into two groups--not the rich and the poor--but the small family group and the large family group. In small families is found self-reliance, self-respect, happiness, leisure, comfort: the children in small families attend school and college and usually fill the highest positions in church and state." "On the other hand is the large family group where is found misery, ignorance, poverty, sickness, child labor--this misery perpetuating itself in increasing numbers." "For the alleviating of this suffering a whole social system has been erected, with thousands of social service workers employed devoting their lives to trying to ease the misery brought about by the unwise and endless reproduction." "More than 90% of children who die in infancy are of poverty or neglect, and yet there are no steps taken to prevent the parents of those children from bringing into the world 300,000 more children to die of poverty and neglect the next year." "The trouble is," said Mrs. Sanger, "we don't get at the real cause of human misery. We are like an ostrich who sticks his head in the sand and refuses to face facts." "I would like to see a civilization where parenthood is a privilege," she said. "Birth control is the keynote of a new social awakening. It is a principle interlocked with the spiritual progress of the race. Nature has always been a most ruthless advocate of birth control. Nature's methods are famine and pestilence and scourge and wars." "No wonder the world is in this state of chaos. We have got to put a check upon the growing population of the feeble minded, insane and diseased, until the world catches up." Answering the arguments put forth by opponents of the move, Mrs. Sanger said:

    Answer Arguments.

    "They say it is 'against the laws of nature.' So is shaving against the laws of nature." (much laughter from the audience.) "So is walking on two feet instead of all fours against the laws of nature. So is sailing in boats, and flying in the air, against the laws of nature." "But, if self-preservation is the first law of nature, then birth control is within nature's laws, for self-preservation depends on birth control." Answering the argument that birth control would increase immorality, Mrs. Sanger said that of all the thousands of woman who have come to her for advice, there has never been an unmarried girl ask for information.

    Morality From Character, Not Fear.

    "It is an insult to women, and an insult to Christianity to say that, if women are not capable of standing on their own inner strength of character, the generations of Christian teachings have failed. It is a weak morality that is moral because of fear of the consequences. People have to be taught the proper use of knowledge. They can be safeguarded only by the firmness, the intelligence, the strength within them." Mrs. Sanger was introduced by Mrs. Morningstar, president of the Woman's Club of Halfway, under whose auspices she spoke. The lecturer carried a corsage of violets and roses presented by the Club of Halfway. During the speech there was strict attention and hearty applause. People sat in the benches which line the walls of the Stouffer's Academy, they crowded into the tiny balcony where Prof. Stouffer keeps pianos and old records and victrolas, they stood in the back of the hall and sat on the steps. Prof. Stouffer, who offered his dancing academy after the Y.W.C.A. had refused to allow Mrs. Sanger to speak, said that there had been exactly 1068 admission. The crowd lined the street before the First Hose Company building long before the doors were open, and in the audience were representative men and women of the cultured, intelligent type.

    Many Inquiries.

    "Are people interested in the subject," Mrs. Sanger was asked. In reply, she told of letters received by her from women all over the country, averaging more than 1000 a day. "These letters, coming for the most part from poor mothers of the tenements, the factories and the workshops--have to go unanswered because a Federal statute forbids the giving of such information through the mails."

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    Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project