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Pivot of Civilization 






f^T COPYRIGHT, 1922, by 

A II rights reserved 

First Printing, May, 1999 
Second Printing, October, 19t 



Whose prophetic vision of liberated womanhood 
has been an inspiration 

"I dream of a world in which the spirits of women 
are flames stronger than fire, a world in which modesty 
has become courage and yet remains modesty, a world 
in which women are as unlike men as ever they were in 
the world I sought to destroy, a world in which women 
shine with a loveliness of self-revelation as enchanting 
as ever the old legends told, and yet a world which 
would immeasurably transcend the old world in the self- 
sacrificing passion of human service. I have dreamed 
of that world ever since I began to dream at all." 

Havelock Ellis 








LEM 124 









BIRTH CONTROL, Mrs. Sanger claims, and 
claims rightly, to be a question of fundamental 
importance at the present time. I do not 
know how far one is justified in calling it the 
pivot or the corner-stone of a progressive 
civilization. These terms involve a criticism 
of metaphors that may take us far away from 
the question in hand. Birth Control is no 
new thing in human experience, and it has 
been practised in societies of the most various 
types and fortunes. But there can be little 
doubt that at the present time it is a test issue 
between two widely different interpretations 
of the word civilization, and of what is good in 
life and conduct. The way in which men and 
women range themselves in this controversy is 
more simply and directly indicative of their 
general intellectual quality than any other 
single indication. I do not wish to imply by 
this that the people who oppose are more or 



less intellectual than the people who advocate 
Birth Control, but only that they have funda- 
mentally contrasted, general ideas, that, men- 
tally, they are different. Very simple, very 
complex, very dull and very brilliant persons 
may be found in either camp, but all those in 
either camp have certain attitudes in common 
which they share with one another, and do not 
share with those in the other camp. 

There have been many definitions of civil- 
ization. Civilization is a complexity of count- 
less aspects, and may be validly defined in a 
great number of relationships. A reader of 
James Harvey Robinson's MIND IN THE MAK- 
ING will find it very reasonable to define a 
civilization as a system of society-making ideas 
at issue with reality. Just so far as the sys- 
tem of ideas meets the needs and conditions of 
survival or is able to adapt itself to the needs 
and conditions of survival of the society it 
dominates, so far will that society continue and 
prosper. We are beginning to realize that in 
the past and under different conditions from 
our own, societies have existed with systems 
of ideas and with methods of thought very 
widely contrasting with what we should con- 


sider right and sane to-day. The extraordi- 
nary neolithic civilizations of the American 
continent that flourished before the coming of 
the Europeans, seem to have got along with 
concepts that involved pedantries and cruelties 
and a kind of systematic unreason, which find 
their closest parallels to-day in the art and writ- 
ings of certain types of lunatic. There are 
collections of drawings from English and 
American asylums extraordinarily parallel in 
their spirit and quality with the Maya inscrip- 
tions of Central America. Yet these neolithic 
American societies got along for hundreds and 
perhaps thousands of years. They respected 
seed-time and harvest, they bred and they 
maintained a grotesque and terrible order. 
And they produced quite beautiful works of 
art. Yet their surplus of population was dis- 
posed of by an organization of sacrificial 
slaughter unparalleled in the records of man- 
kind. Many of the institutions that seemed 
most normal and respectable to them, filled the 
invading Europeans with perplexity and hor- 

When we realize clearly this possibility of 
civilizations being based on very different sets 


of moral ideas and upon different intellectual 
methods, we are better able to appreciate the 
^profound significance of the schism in our 
modern community, which gives us side by 
side, honest and intelligent people who regard 
Birth Control as something essentially sweet, 
sane, clean, desirable and necessary, and others 
equally honest and with as good a claim to in- 
telligence who regard it as not merely un- 
reasonable and unwholesome, but as intoler- 
able and abominable. We are living not in a 
simple and complete civilization, but in a con- 
flict of at least two civilizations, based on en- 
tirely different fundamental ideas, pursuing 
different methods and with different aims and 

I will call one of these civilizations our 
Traditional or Authoritative Civilization. It 
rests upon the thing that is, and upon the thing 
that has been. It insists upon respect for cus- 
tom and usage ; it discourages criticism and en- 
quiry. It is very ancient and conservative, or, 
going beyond conservation, it is reactionary. 
The vehement hostility of many Catholic 
priests and prelates towards new views of hu- 
man origins, and new views of moral questions, 


has led many careless thinkers to identify this 
old traditional civilization with Christianity, 
but that identification ignores the strongly rev- 
olutionary and initiatory spirit that has al- 
ways animated Christianity, and is untrue 
even to the realities of orthodox Catholic teach- 
ing. The vituperation of individual Catholics 
must not be confused with the deliberate doc- 
trines of the Church which have, on the whole, 
been conspicuously cautious and balanced and 
sane in these matters. The ideas and practices 
of the Old Civilization are older and more 
widespread than and not identifiable with 
either Christian or Catholic culture, and it will 
be a great misfortune if the issues between the 
Old Civilization and the New are allowed to 
slip into the deep ruts of religious controversies 
that are only accidentally and intermittently 

Contrasted with the ancient civilization, with 
the Traditional disposition, which accepts insti- 
tutions and moral values as though they were 
a part of nature, we have what I may call 
with an evident bias in its favor the civiliza- 
tion of enquiry, of experimental knowledge, 
Creative and Progressive Civilization. The 


first great outbreak of the spirit of this civili- 
zation was in republican Greece; the martyr- 
dom of Socrates, the fearless Utopianism of 
Plato, the ambitious encyclopsedism of Aris- 
totle, mark the dawn of a new courage and a 
new wilfulness in human affairs. The fear of 
set limitations, of punitive and restrictive laws 
imposed by Fate upon human life was visibly 
fading in human minds. These names mark 
the first clear realization that to a large extent, 
and possibly to an illimitable extent, man's 
moral and social life and his general destiny 
could be seized upon and controlled by man. 
But he must have knowledge. Said the An- 
cient Civilization and it says it still through a 
multitude of vigorous voices and harsh repres- 
sive acts : "Let man learn his duty and obey." 
Says the New Civilization, with ever increas- 
ing confidence: "Let man know, and trust 

For long ages, the Old Civilization kept the 
New subordinate, apologetic and ineffective, 
but for the last two centuries, the New has 
fought its way to a position of contentious 
equality. The two go on side by side, jostling 
upon a thousand issues. The world changes, 


the conditions of life change rapidly, through 
that development of organized science which 
is the natural method of the New Civilization. 
The old tradition demands that national loyal- 
ties and ancient belligerence should continue. 
The new has produced means of communica- 
tion that break down the pens and separations 
of human life upon which nationalist emotion 
depends. The old tradition insists upon its 
ancient blood-letting of war; the new knowl- 
edge carries that war to undreamt of levels 
of destruction. The ancient system needed an 
unrestricted breeding to meet the normal 
waste of life through war, pestilence, and a 
mutitude of hitherto unpreventable diseases. 
The new knowledge sweeps away the vener- 
able checks of pestilence and disease, and con- 
fronts us with the congestions and explosive 
dangers of an over-populated world. The old 
tradition demands a special prolific class 
doomed to labor and subservience; the new 
points to mechanism and to scientific organi- 
zation as a means of escape from this immem- 
orial subjugation. Upon every main issue in 
life, there is this quarrel between the method 
of submission and the method of knowledge. 


More and more do men of science and intelli- 
gent people generally, realize the hopelessness 
of pouring new wine into old bottles. More 
and more clearly do they grasp the significance 
of the great teacher's parable. 

The New Civilization is saying to the Old 
now: "We cannot go on making power for 
you to spend upon international conflict. You 
must stop waving flags and bandying insults. 
You must organize the Peace of the World; 
you must subdue yourselves to the Federation 
of all mankind. And we cannot go on giving 
you health, freedom, enlargement, limitless 
wealth, if all our gifts to you are to be swamped 
by an indiscriminate torrent of progeny. We 
want fewer and better children who can be 
reared up to their full possibilities in unencum- 
ered homes, and we cannot make the social life 
and the world-peace we are determined to 
make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of 
inferior citizens that you inflict upon us." 
And there at the passionate and crucial ques- 
tion, this essential and fundamental question, 
whether procreation is still to be a superstitious 
and often disastrous mystery, undertaken in 
fear and ignorance, reluctantly and under the 


sway of blind desires, or whether it is to be- 
come a deliberate creative act, the two civiliza- 
tions join issue now. It is a conflict from 
which it is almost impossible to abstain. Our 
acts, our way of living, our social tolerance, 
our very silences will count in this crucial de- 
cision between the old and the new. 

In a plain and lucid style without any 
emotional appeals, Mrs. Margaret Sanger sets 
out the case of the new order against the old. 
There have been several able books published 
recently upon the question of Birth Control, 
from the point of view of a woman's personal 
life, and from the point of view of married 
happiness, but I do not think there has been 
any book as yet, popularly accessible, which 
presents this matter from the point of view of 
the public good, and as a necessary step to 
the further improvement of human life as a 
whole. I am inclined to think that there has 
hitherto been rather too much personal emotion 
spent upon this business, and far too little at- 
tention given to its broader aspects. Mrs. 
Sanger with her extraordinary breadth of out- 
look and the real scientific quality of her mind, 
has now redressed the balance. She has lifted 


this question from out of the warm atmosphere 
of troubled domesticity in which it has hitherto 
been discussed, to its proper level of a pre- 
dominantly important human affair. 

Easton Glebe, 


The Pivot of Civilization 



Be not ashamed, women, your privilege encloses the 

rest, and is the exit of the rest, 
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of 

the soul. 

Walt Whitman 

THIS book aims to be neither the first word 
on the tangled problems of human society to- 
day, nor the last. My aim has been to empha- 
size, by the use of concrete and challenging ex- 
amples and neglected facts, the need of a new 
approach to individual and social problems. 
Its central challenge is that civilization, in any 
true sense of the word, is based upon the con- 
trol and guidance of the great natural instinct 
of Sex. Mastery of this force is possible only 
through the instrument of Birth Control. 

It may be objected that in the following 


pages I have rushed in where academic scholars 
have feared to tread, and that as an active 
propagandist I am lacking in the scholarship 
and documentary preparation to undertake 
such a stupendous task. My only defense is 
that, from my point of view at least, too many 
are already studying and investigating social 
problems from without, with a sort of Olym- 
pian detachment. And on the other hand, too 
few of those who are engaged in this endless 
war for human betterment have found the 
time to give to the world those truths not al- 
ways hidden but practically unquarried, which 
may be secured only after years of active ser- 

Of late, we have been treated to accounts 
written by well-meaning ladies and gentlemen 
who have assumed clever disguises and have 
gone out to work for a week or a month 
among the proletariat. But can we thus learn 
anything new of the fundamental problems 
of working men, working women, working 
children? Something, perhaps, but not those 
great central problems of Hunger and Sex. 
We have been told that only those who them- 
selves have suffered the pangs of starvation 


can truly understand Hunger. You might 
come into the closest contact with a starving 
man; yet, if you were yourself well-fed, no 
amount of sympathy could give you actual 
insight into the psychology of his suffering. 
This suggests an objective and a subjective 
approach to all social problems. Whatever 
the weakness of the subjective (or if you pre- 
fer, the feminine) approach, it has at least the 
virtue that its conclusions are tested by ex- 
perience. Observation of facts about you, 
intimate subjective reaction to such facts, 
generate in your mind certain fundamental 
convictions, truths you can ignore no more 
than you can ignore such truths as come as 
the fruit of bitter but valuable personal ex- 

Regarding myself, I may say that my ex- 
perience in the course of the past twelve or 
fifteen years has been of a type to force upon 
me certain convictions that demand expres- 
sion. For years I had believed that the so- 
lution of all our troubles was to be found in 
well-defined programs of political and legis- 
lative action. At first, I concentrated my 
whole attention upon these, only to discover 


that politicians and law-makers are just as 
confused and as much at a loss in solving fun- 
damental problems as any one else. And I 
am speaking here not so much of the corrupt 
and ignorant politician as of those idealists 
and reformers who think that by the ballot so- 
ciety may be led to an earthly paradise. They 
may honestly desire and intend to do great 
things. They may positively glow before 
election with enthusiasm at the prospect they 
imagine political victory may open to them. 
Time after time, I was struck by the change in 
their attitude after the briefest enjoyment of 
this illusory power. Men are elected during 
some wave of reform, let us say, elected to 
legislate into practical working existence some 
great ideal. They want to do big things ; but 
a short time in office is enough to show the po- 
litical idealist that he can accomplish nothing, 
that his reform must be debased and dragged 
into the dust, so that even if it becomes enacted, 
it may be not merely of no benefit, but a posi- 
tive evil. It is scarcely necessary to emphasize 
this point. It is an accepted commonplace of 
American politics. So much of life, so large 
a part of all our social problems, moreover, 


remains untouched by political and legislative 
action. This is an old truth too often ignored 
by those who plan political campaigns upon the 
most superficial knowledge of human nature. 

My own eyes were opened to the limitations 
of political action when, as an organizer for a 
political group in New York, I attended by 
chance a meeting of women laundry-workers 
who were on strike. We believed we could 
help these women with a legislative measure 
and asked their support. "Oh! that stuff!" 
exclaimed one of these women. "Don't you 
know that we women might be dead and 
buried if we waited for politicians and law- 
makers to right our wrongs?" This set me to 
thinking not merely of the immediate prob- 
lem but to asking myself how much any male 
politician could understand of the wrongs in- 
flicted upon poor working women. 

I threw the weight of my study and activity 
into the economic and industrial struggle. 
Here I discovered men and women fired with 
the glorious vision of a new world, of a prole- 
tarian world emancipated, a Utopian world, 
it glowed in romantic colors for the majority 
of those with whom I came in closest contact. 


The next step, the immediate step, was an- 
other matter, less romantic and too often less 
encouraging. In their ardor, some of the 
labor leaders of that period almost convinced 
us that the millenium was just around the 
corner. Those were the pre-war days of 
dramatic strikes. But even when most under 
the spell of the new vision, the sight of the 
over-burdened wives of the strikers, with their 
puny babies and their broods of under-fed 
children, made us stop and* think of a neglected 
factor in the march toward our earthly para- 
dise. It was well enough to ask the poor men 
workers to carry on the battle against eco- 
nomic injustice. But what results could be 
expected when they were forced in addition to 
carry the burden of their ever-growing fami- 
lies? This question loomed large to those of 
us who came into intimate contact with the 
women and children. We saw that in the 
final analysis the real burden of economic and 
industrial warfare was thrust upon the frail, 
all-too-frail shoulders of the children, the very 
babies the coming generation. In their wan 
faces, in their undernourished bodies, would be 


indelibly written the bitter defeat of their par- 

The eloquence of those who led the under- 
paid and half-starved workers could no longer, 
for me, at least, ring with conviction. Some- 
thing more than the purely economic interpre- 
tation was involved. The bitter struggle for 
bread, for a home and material comfort, was 
but one phase of the problem. There was an- 
other phase, perhaps even more fundamental, 
that had been absolutely neglected by the ad- 
herents of the new dogmas. That other phase 
was the driving power of instinct, a power un- 
controlled and unnoticed. The great funda- 
mental instinct of sex was expressing itself in 
these ever-growing broods, in the prosperity of 
the slum midwife and her colleague the slum 
undertaker. In spite of all my sympathy with 
the dream of liberated Labor, I was driven to 
ask whether this urging power of sex, this 
deep instinct, was not at least partially respon- 
sible, along with industrial injustice, for the 
widespread misery of the world. 

To find an answer to this problem which at 
that point in my experience I could not solve, 


I determined to study conditions in Europe. 
Perhaps there I might discover a new ap- 
proach, a great illumination. Just before the 
outbreak of the war, I visited France, Spain, 
Germany and Great Britain. Everywhere I 
found the same dogmas and prejudices among 
labor leaders, the same intense but limited vis- 
ion, the same insistence upon the purely eco- 
nomic phases of human nature, the same belief 
that if the problem of hunger were solved, the 
question of the women and children would take 
care of itself. In this attitude I discovered, 
then, what seemed to me to be purely mascu- 
line reasoning; and because it was purely mas- 
culine, it could at best be but half true. Fem- 
inine insight must be brought to bear on all 
questions; and here, it struck me, the fallacy 
of the masculine, the all-too-masculine, was 
brutally exposed. I was encouraged and 
strengthened in this attitude by the support of 
certain leaders who had studied human nature 
and who had reached the same conclusion : that 
civilization could not solve the problem of 
Hunger until it recognized the titanic strength 
of the sexual instinct. In Spain, I found that 
Lorenzo Portet, who was carrying on the work 


of the martyred Francisco Ferrer, had reached 
this same conclusion. In Italy, Enrico Mala- 
testa, the valiant leader who was after the war 
to play so dramatic a role, was likewise combat- 
ting the current dogma of the orthodox So- 
cialists. In Berlin, Rudolph Rocker was en- 
gaged in the thankless task of puncturing the 
articles of faith of the orthodox Marxian reli- 
gion. It is quite needless to add that these 
men who had probed beneath the surface of the 
problem and had diagnosed so much more com- 
pletely the complex malady of contemporary 
society were intensely disliked by the super- 
ficial theorists of the neo-Marxian school. 

The gospel of Marx had, however, been 
too long and too thoroughly inculcated into 
the minds of millions of workers in Europe, 
to be discarded. It is a flattering doctrine, 
since it teaches the laborer that all the fault is 
with some one else, that he is the victim of cir- 
cumstances, and not even a partner in the 
creation of his own and his children's misery. 
Not without significance was the additional 
discovery that I made. I found that the 
Marxian influence tended to lead workers to 
believe that, irrespective of the health of the 


poor mothers, the earning capacity of the wage- 
earning fathers, or the upbringing of the chil- 
dren, increase of the proletarian family was a 
benefit, not a detriment to the revolutionary 
movement. The greater the number of hun- 
gry mouths, the emptier the stomachs, the 
more quickly would the "Class War" be pre- 
cipitated. The greater the increase in popula- 
tion among the proletariat, the greater the in- 
centive to revolution. This may not be sound 
Marxian theory ; but it is the manner in which 
it is popularly accepted. It is the popular 
belief, wherever the Marxian influence is 
strong. This I found especially in England 
and Scotland. In speaking to groups of dock- 
workers on strike in Glasgow, and before the 
communist and cooperative guilds throughout 
England, I discovered a prevailing opposition 
to the recognition of sex as a factor in the per- 
petuation of poverty. The leaders and theo- 
rists were immovable in their opposition. But 
when once I succeeded in breaking through the 
surface opposition of the rank and file of the 
workers, I found that they were willing to 
recognize the power of this neglected factor in 
their lives. 


So central, so fundamental in the life of 
every man and woman is this problem that they 
need be taught no elaborate or imposing theory 
to explain their troubles. To approach their 
problems by the avenue of sex and reproduc- 
tion is to reveal at once their fundamental 
relations to the whole economic and biological 
structure of society. Their interest is immedi- 
ately and completely awakened. But always, 
as I soon discovered, the ideas and habits of 
thought of these submerged masses have been 
formed through the press, the church, through 
political institutions, all of which had built up 
a conspiracy of silence around a subject that is 
of no less vital importance than that of Hun- 
ger. A great wall separates the masses from 
those imperative truths that must be known 
and flung wide if civilization is to be saved. 
As currently constituted, Church, Press, Edu- 
cation seem to-day organized to exploit the 
ignorance and the prejudices of the masses, 
rather than to light their way to self -salvation. 

Such was the situation in 1914, when I re- 
turned to America, determined, since the ex- 
clusively masculine point of view had domin- 
ated too long, that the other half of the truth 


should be made known. The Birth Control 
movement was launched because it was in this 
form that the whole relation of woman and 
child eternal emblem of the future of society 
could be most effectively dramatized. The 
amazing growth of this movement dates from 
the moment when in my home a small group 
organized the first Birth Control League. 
Since then we have been criticized for our 
choice of the term "Birth Control" to express 
the idea of modern scientific contraception. 
I have yet to hear any criticism of this term that 
is not based upon some false and hypocritical 
sense of modesty, or that does not arise out of 
a semi-prurient misunderstanding of its aim. 
On the other hand: nothing better expresses 
the idea of purposive, responsible, and self- 
directed guidance of the reproductive powers. 
Those critics who condemn Birth Control as 
a negative, destructive idea, concerned only 
with self -gratification, might profitably open 
the nearest dictionary for a definition of 
"control." There they would discover that 
the verb "control" means to exercise a direct- 
ing, guiding, or restraining influence; to 
direct, to regulate, to counteract. Control is 


guidance, direction, foresight. It implies in- 
telligence, forethought and responsibility. 
They will find in the Standard Dictionary a 
quotation from Lecky to the effect that, "The 
greatest of all evils in politics is power with- 
out control." * In what phase of life is not 
"power without control" an evil? Birth Con- 
trol, therefore, means not merely the limita- 
tion of births, but the application of intelli- 
gent guidance over the reproductive power. 
It means the substitution of reason and in- 
telligence for the blind play of instinct. 

The term "Birth Control" had the immense 
practical advantage of compressing into two 
short words the answer to the inarticulate de- 
mands of millions of men and women in all 
countries. At the time this slogan was formu- 
lated, I had not yet come to the complete real- 
ization of the great truth that had been thus 
crystallized. It was the response to the over- 
whelming, heart-breaking appeals that came by 
every mail for aid and advice, which revealed a 
great truth that lay dormant, a truth that 
seemed to spring into full vitality almost over 
night that could never again be crushed to 


Nor could I then have realized the number 
and the power of the enemies who were to be 
aroused into activity by this idea. So com- 
pletely was I dominated by this conviction of 
the efficacy of "control," that I could not un- 
til later realize the extent of the sacrifices that 
were to be exacted of me and of those who 
supported my campaign. The very idea of 
Birth Control resurrected the spirit of the 
witch-hunters of Salem. Could they have 
usurped the power, they would have burned 
us at the stake. Lacking that power, they 
used the weapon of suppression, and invoked 
medieval statutes to send us to jail. These 
tactics had an effect the very opposite to that 
intended. They demonstrated the vitality of 
the idea of Birth Control, and acted as counter- 
irritant on the actively intelligent sections of 
the American community. Nor was the inter- 
est aroused confined merely to America. The 
neo-Malthusian movement in Great Britain, 
with its history of undaunted bravery, came to 
our support; and I had the comfort of knowing 
that the finest minds of England did not hesi- 
tate a moment in the expression of their sym- 
pathy and support. 


In America, on the other hand, I found from 
the beginning until very recently that the so- 
called intellectuals exhibited a curious and al- 
most inexplicable reticence in supporting Birth 
Control. They even hesitated to voice any 
public protest against the campaign to crush us 
which was inaugurated and sustained by the 
most reactionary and sinister forces in Ameri- 
can life. It was not inertia or any lack of 
interest on the part of the masses that stood in 
our way. It was the indifference of the in- 
tellectual leaders. 

Writers, teachers, ministers, editors, who 
form a class dictating, if not creating, public 
opinion, are, in this country, singularly in- 
hibited or unconscious of their true function in 
the community. One of their first duties, it is 
certain, should be to champion the constitu- 
tional right of free speech and free press, to 
welcome any idea that tends to awaken the 
critical attention of the great American public. 
But those who reveal themselves as fully cog- 
nizant of this public duty are in the minority, 
and must possess more than average courage 
to survive the enmity such an attitude provokes. 
One of the chief aims of the present vol- 


ume is to stimulate American intellectuals to 
abandon the mental habits which prevent 
them from seeing human nature as a whole, 
instead of as something that can be pigeon- 
holed into various compartments or classes. 
Birth Control affords an approach to the study 
of humanity because it cuts through the limita- 
tions of current methods. It is economic, bi- 
ological, psychological and spiritual in its as- 
pects. It awakens the vision of mankind mov- 
ing and changing, of humanity growing and 
developing, coming to fruition, of a race 
creative, flowering into beautiful expression 
through talent and genius. 

As a social program, Birth Control is not 
merely concerned with population questions. 
In this respect, it is a distinct step in advance 
of earlier Malthusian doctrines, which con- 
cerned themselves chiefly with economics and 
population. Birth Control concerns itself 
with the spirit no less than the body. It looks 
for the liberation of the spirit of woman and 
through woman of the child. To-day, mother- 
hood is wasted, penalized, tortured. Children 
brought into the world by unwilling mothers 
suffer an initial handicap that cannot be meas- 


ured by cold statistics. Their lives are 
blighted from the start. To substantiate 
this fact, I have chosen to present the conclu- 
sions of reports on Child Labor and records of 
defect and delinquency published by organiza- 
tions with no bias in favor of Birth Control. 
The evidence is before us. It crowds in upon 
us from all sides. But prior to this new ap- 
proach, no attempt had been made to correlate 
the effects of the blind and irresponsible play 
of the sexual instinct with its deep-rooted 

The duty of the educator and the intellectual 
creator of public opinion is, in this connection, 
of the greatest importance. For centuries 
official moralists, priests, clergymen and teach- 
ers, statesmen and politicians have preached 
the doctrine of glorious and divine fertility. 
To-day, we are confronted with the world-wide 
spectacle of the realization of this doctrine. 
It is not without significance that the moron 
and the imbecile set the pace in living up to 
this teaching, and that the intellectuals, the 
educators, the archbishops, bishops, priests, 
who are most insistent on it, are the staunch- 
est adherents in their own lives of celibacy and 


non-fertility. It is time to point out to the 
champions of unceasing and indiscriminate 
fertility the results of their teaching. 

One of the greatest difficulties in giving to 
the public a book of this type is the impossi- 
bility of keeping pace with the events and 
changes of a movement that is now, through- 
out the world, striking root and growing. The 
changed attitude of the American press indi- 
cates that enlightened public opinion no longer 
tolerates a policy of silence upon a question of 
the most vital importance. Almost simultane- 
ously in England and America, two incidents 
have broken through the prejudice and the 
guarded silence of centuries. At the Church 
Congress in Birmingham, October 12, 1921, 
Lord Dawson, the king's physician, in criticiz- 
ing the report of the Lambeth Conference con- 
cerning Birth Control, delivered an address de- 
fending this practice. Of such bravery and 
eloquence that it could not be ignored, this ad- 
dress electrified the entire British public. It 
aroused a storm of abuse, and yet succeeded, 
as no propaganda could, in mobilizing the 
forces of progress and intelligence in the sup- 
port of the cause. 


Just one month later, the First American 
Birth Control Conference culminated in a 
significant and dramatic incident. At the close 
of the conference a mass meeting was sched- 
uled in the Town Hall, New York City, to 
discuss the morality of Birth Control. Mr. 
Harold Cox, editor of the Edinburgh Review, 
who had come to New York to attend the con- 
ference, was to lead the discussion. It seemed 
only natural for us to call together scientists, 
educators, members of the medical profession, 
and theologians of all denominations, to ask 
their opinion upon this uncertain and import- 
ant phase of the controversy. Letters were 
sent to eminent men and women in different 
parts of the world. In this letter we asked the 
following questions: . 

1. Is over-population a menace to the peace 
of the world? 

2. Would the legal dissemination of scien- 
tific Birth Control information, through 
the medium of clinics by the medical pro- 
fession, be the most logical method of 
checking the problem of over-popula- 


3, Would knowledge of Birth Control 
change the moral attitude of men and 
women toward the marriage bond, or 
lower the moral standards of the youth 
of the country? 

4. Do you believe that knowledge which en- 
ables parents to limit their families will 
make for human happiness, and raise the 
moral, social and intellectual standards 
of population? 

We sent this questionnaire not only to those 
who we thought might agree with us, but we 
sent it also to our known opponents. 

When I arrived at the Town Hall the en- 
trance was guarded by policemen. They told 
me there would be no meeting. Before my ar- 
rival our executives had been greeted by Mon- 
signor Dineen, secretary of Archbishop Hayes, 
of the Roman Catholic archdiocese, who in- 
formed them that the meeting would be prohib- 
ited on the ground that it was contrary to 
public morals. The police had closed the 
doors. When they opened them to permit 
the exit of the large audience which had gath- 
ered, Mr. Cox and I entered, I attempted to 


exercise my constitutional right of free speech, 
but was prohibited and arrested. Miss Mary 
Winsor, who protested against this unwar- 
ranted arrest, was likewise dragged off to the 
police-station. The case was dismissed the 
following morning. The ecclesiastic instiga- 
tors of the affair were conspicuous by their ab- 
sence from the police court. But the incident 
was enough to expose the opponents of Birth 
Control and the extreme methods they used 
to combat our progress. The case was too 
flagrant, too gross an affront, to pass unnoticed 
by the newspapers. The progress of our move- 
ment was indicated in the changed attitude of 
the American press, which had perceived the 
danger to the public of the unlawful tactics 
used by the enemies of Birth Control in pre- 
venting open discussion of a vital question. 

No social idea has inspired its advocates 
with more bravery, tenacity, and courage than 
Birth Control. From the early days of Fran- 
cis Place and Richard Carlile, to those of the 
Drysdales and Edward Trulove, of Bradlaugh 
and Mrs. Annie Besant, its advocates have 
faced imprisonment and ostracism. In the 
whole history of the English movement, there 


has been no more courageous figure than that 
of the venerable Alice Drysdale Vickery, the 
undaunted torch-bearer who has bridged the 
silence of forty-four years since the Brad- 
laugh-Besant trial. She stands head and 
shoulders above the professional feminists. 
Serenely has she withstood jeers and jests. 
To-day, she continues to point out to the 
younger generation which is devoted to newer 
palliatives the fundamental relation between 
Sex and Hunger. 

The First American Birth Control Confer- 
ence, held at the same time as the Washington 
Conference for the Limitation of Armaments, 
marks a turning-point in our approach to 
social problems. The Conference made evi- 
dent the fact that in every field of scientific and 
social endeavor the most penetrating thinkers 
are now turning to the consideration of our 
problem as a fundamental necessity to Ameri- 
can civilization. They are coming to see that 
a qualitative factor as opposed to a quantita- 
tive one is of primary importance in dealing 
with the great masses of humanity. 

Certain fundamental convictions should be 
made clear here. The program for Birth 


Control is not a charity. It is not aiming to 
interfere in the private lives of poor people, to 
tell them how many children they should have, 
nor to sit in judgment upon their fitness to be- 
come parents. It aims, rather, to awaken 
responsibility, to answer the demand for a sci- / 
entific means by which and through which each 
human life may be self -directed and self -con- 
trolled. The exponent of Birth Control, in 
short, is convinced that social regeneration, no 
less than individual regeneration, must come 
from within. Every potential parent, and 
especially every potential mother, must be 
brought to an acute realization of the primary 
and individual responsibility of bringing chil- 
dren into this world. Not until the parents 
of this world are given control over their re- 
productive faculties will it be possible to im- 
prove the quality of the generations of the 
future, or even to maintain civilization at its 
present level. Only when given intelligent 
mastery of the procreative powers can the 
great mass of humanity be aroused to a real- 
ization of responsibility of parenthood. We 
have come to the conclusion, based on wide- 
spread investigation and experience, that 


education for parenthood must be based upon 
the needs and demands of the people them- 
selves. An idealistic code of sexual ethics, 
imposed from above, a set of rules devised 
by high-minded theorists who fail to take 
into account the living conditions and de- 
sires of the masses, can never be of the slight- 
est value in effecting change in the customs of 
the people. Systems so imposed in the past 
have revealed their woeful inability to prevent 
the sexual and racial chaos into which the 
world has drifted. 

The universal demand for practical educa- 
tion in Birth Control is one of the most hopeful 
signs that the masses themselves to-day possess 
the divine spark of regeneration. It remains 
for the courageous and the enlightened to 
answer this demand, to kindle the spark, to 
direct a thorough education in sex hygiene 
based upon this intense interest. 

Birth Control is thus the entering wedge for 
the educator. In answering the needs of these 
thousands upon thousands of submerged 
mothers, it is possible to use their interest as the 
foundation for education in prophylaxis, hy- 
giene and infant welfare. The potential 


mother can then be shown that maternity need 
not be slavery but may be the most effective 
avenue to self -development and self-realization. 
Upon this basis only may we improve the qual- 
ity of the race. 

The lack of balance between the birth rate 
of the "unfit" and the "fit," admittedly the 
greatest present menace to civilization, can 
never be rectified by the inauguration of a 
cradle competition between these two classes. 
The example of the inferior classes, the fertil- 
ity of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, 
the poverty-stricken, should not be held up for 
emulation to the mentally and physically fit, 
and therefore less fertile, parents of the edu- 
cated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, 
the most urgent problem to-day is how to limit 
and discourage the over-fertility of the men- 
tally and physically defective. Possibly dras- 
tic and Spartan methods may be forced upon 
American society if it continues complacently 
to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding 
that has resulted from our stupid, cruel senti- 

To effect the salvation of the generations of 
the future nay of the generations of to-day 


our greatest need, first of all, is the ability to 
face the situation without flinching; to cooper- 
ate in the formation of a code of sexual ethics 
based upon a thorough biological and psy- 
chological understanding of human nature; 
and then to answer the questions and the needs 
of the people with all the intelligence and hon- 
esty at our command. If we can summon the 
bravery to do this, we shall best be serving the 
pivotal interests of civilization. 

To conclude this introduction : my initiation, 
as I have confessed, was primarily an emo- 
tional one. My interest in Birth Control was 
awakened by experience. Research and in- 
vestigation have followed. Our effort has been 
to raise our program from the plane of the 
emotional to the plane of the scientific. Any 
social progress, it is my belief, must purge it- 
self of sentimentalism and pass through the 
crucible of science. We are willing to submit 
Birth Control to this test. It is part of the 
purpose of this book to appeal to the scientist 
for aid, to arouse that interest which will result 
in widespread research and investigation. I 
believe that my personal experience with this 
idea must be that of the race at large. We 


must temper our emotion and enthusiasm with 
the impersonal determination of science. We 
must unite in the task of creating an instru- 
ment of steel, strong but supple, if we are to 
triumph finally in the war for human emanci- 



"Their poor, old ravaged and stiffened faces, their 
poor, old bodies dried up with ceaseless toil, their 
patient souls made me weep. They are our conscripts. 
They are the venerable ones whom we should reverence. 
All the mystery of womanhood seems incarnated in their 
ugly being the Mothers! the Mathers! Ye are all one!" 

From the letters of William James. 

MOTHERHOOD, which is not only the oldest 
but the most important profession in the 
world, has received few of the benefits of civil- 
ization. It is a curious fact that a civilization 
devoted to mother-worship, that publicly pro- 
fesses a worship of mother and child, should 
close its eyes to the appalling waste of human 
life and human energy resulting from those 
dire consequences of leaving the whole problem 
of child-bearing to chance and blind instinct. 
It would be untrue to say that among the 
civilized nations of the world to-day, the pro- 



fession of motherhood remains in a barbarous 
state. The bitter truth is that motherhood, 
among the larger part of our population, does 
not rise to the level of the barbarous or the 
primitive. Conditions of life among the prim- 
itive tribes were rude enough and severe 
enough to prevent the unhealthy growth of 
sentimentality, and to discourage the irrespon- 
sible production of defective children. More- 
over, there is ample evidence to indicate that 
even among the most primitive peoples the 
function of maternity was recognized as of 
primary and central importance to the com- 

If we define civilization as increased and 
increasing responsibility based on vision and 
foresight, it becomes painfully evident that 
the profession of motherhood as practised to- 
day is in no sense civilized. Educated people 
derive their ideas of maternity for the most 
part, either from the experience of their own 
set, or from visits to impressive hospitals 
where women of the upper classes receive the 
advantages of modern science and modern 
nursing. From these charming pictures they 
derive their complacent views of the beauty 


of motherhood and their confidence for the 
future of the race. The other side of the 
picture is revealed only to the trained investi- 
gator, to the patient and impartial observer 
who visits not merely one or two "homes of 
the poor," but makes detailed studies of town 
after town, obtains the history of each mother, 
and finally correlates and analyzes this evi- 
dence. Upon such a basis are we able to draw 
conclusions concerning this strange business 
of bringing children into the world. 

Every year I receive thousands of letters 
from women in all parts of America, desperate 
appeals to aid them to extricate themselves 
from the trap of compulsory maternity. Lest 
I be accused of bias and exaggeration in draw- 
ing my conclusions from these painful human 
documents, I prefer to present a number of 
typical cases recorded in the reports of the 
United States government, and in the evidence 
of trained and impartial investigators of social 
agencies more generally opposed to the doc- 
trine of Birth Control than biased in favor 
of it. 

A perusal of the reports on infant mortality 
in widely varying industrial centers of the 


United States, published during the past dec- 
ade by the Children's Bureau of the United 
States Department of Labor, forces us to a 
realization of the immediate need of detailed 
statistics concerning the practice and results 
of uncontrolled breeding. Some such effort 
as this has been made by the Galton Labora- 
tory of National Eugenics in Great Britain. 
The Children's Bureau reports only incident- 
ally present this impressive evidence. They 
fail to coordinate it. While there is always 
the danger of drawing giant conclusions from 
pigmy premises, here is overwhelming evidence 
concerning irresponsible parenthood that is 
ignored by governmental and social agencies. 

I have chosen a small number of typical 
cases from these reports. Though drawn 
from widely varying sources, they all emphasize 
the greatest crime of modern civilization that 
of permitting motherhood to be left to blind 
chance, and to be mainly a function of the most 
abysmally ignorant and irresponsible classes 
of the community. 

Here is a fairly typical case from Johns- 
town, Pennsylvania. A woman of thirty- 


eight years had undergone thirteen preg- 
nancies in seventeen years. Of eleven live 
births and two premature stillbirths, only two 
children were alive at the time of the govern- 
ment agent's visit. The second to eighth, the 
eleventh and the thirteenth had died of bowel 
trouble, at ages ranging from three weeks to 
four months. The only cause of these deaths 
the mother could give was that "food did not 
agree with them." She confessed quite 
frankly that she believed in feeding babies, and 
gave them everything anybody told her to give 
them. She began to give them at the age of 
one month, bread, potatoes, egg, crackers, etc. 
For the last baby that died, this mother had 
bought a goat and gave its milk to the baby; 
the goat got sick, but the mother continued to 
give her baby its milk until the goat went dry. 
Moreover, she directed the feeding of her 
daughter's baby until it died at the age of 
three months. "On account of the many 
children she had had, the neighbors consider 
her an authority on baby care." 

Lest this case be considered too tragically 
ridiculous to be accepted as typical, the reader 
may verify it with an almost interminable 


list of similar cases. 1 Parental irresponsibility 
is significantly illustrated in another case: 
A mother who had four live births and two 
stillbirths in twelve years lost all of her babies 
during their first year. She was so anxious 
that at least one child should live that she 
consulted a physician concerning the care of 
the last one. "Upon his advice" to quote the 
government report, "she gave up her twenty 
boarders immediately after the child's birth, 
and devoted all her time to it. Thinks she did 
not stop her hard work soon enough; says she 
has always worked too hard, keeping boarders 
in this country, and cutting wood and carrying 
it and water on her back in the old country. 
Also says the carrying of water and cases 
of beer in this country is a great strain on her." 
But the illuminating point in this case is that 
the father was furious because all the babies 
died. To show his disrespect for the wife who 
could only give birth to babies that died, he 
wore a red necktie to the funeral of the last. 
Yet this woman, the government agent re- 
ports, would follow and profit by any in- 
struction that might be given her. 

i U. S. Department of Labor: Children's Bureau. Infant 
Mortality Series, No. 3, pp. 81, 82, 83, 84. 


It is true that the cases reported from 
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, do not represent 
completely "Americanized" families. This 
lack does not prevent them, however, by their 
unceasing fertility from producing the 
Americans of to-morrow. Of the more im- 
mediate conditions surrounding child-birth, 
we are presented with this evidence, given by 
one woman concerning the birth of her last 

On five o'clock on Wednesday evening she 
went to her sister's house to return a wash- 
board, after finishing a day's washing. The 
baby was born while she was there. Her 
sister was too young to aid her in any way. 
She was not accustomed to a midwife* she con- 
fessed. She cut the cord herself, washed the 
new-born baby at her sister's house, walked 
home, cooked supper for her boarders, and 
went to bed by eight o'clock. The next day 
she got up and ironed. This tired her out, she 
said, so she stayed in bed for two whole days. 
She milked cows the day after the birth of the 
baby and sold the milk as well. Later in the 
week, when she became tired, she hired some- 
one to do that portion of her work. This 


woman, we are further informed, kept cows, 
chickens, and lodgers, and earned additional 
money by doing laundry and charwork. At 
times her husband deserted her. His earn- 
ings amounted to $1.70 a day, while a fifteen- 
year-old son earned $1.10 in a coal mine. 

One searches in vain for some picture of 
sacred motherhood, as depicted in popular 
plays and motion pictures, something more 
normal and encouraging. Then one comes to 
the bitter realization that these, in very truth, 
are the "normal" cases, not the exceptions. 
The exceptions are apt to indicate, instead, 
the close relationship of this irresponsible and 
chance parenthood to the great social problems 
of feeble-mindedness, crime and syphilis. 

Nor is this type of motherhood confined to 
newly arrived immigrant mothers, as a govern- 
ment report from Akron, Ohio, sufficiently in- 
dicates. In this city, the government agents 
discovered that more than five hundred mothers 
were ignorant of the accepted principles of in- 
fant feeding, or, if familiar with them, did not 
practise them. "This ignorance or indif- 
ference was not confined to foreign-born 
mothers. ... A native mother reported that 


she gave her two-weeks-old baby ice-cream, 
and that before his sixth month, he was sitting 
at the table 'eating everything.' ' This was in 
a town in which there were comparatively few 
cases of extreme poverty. 

The degradation of motherhood, the dam- 
nation of the next generation before it is born, 
is exposed in all its catastrophic misery, in the 
reports of the National Consumers' League. 
In her report of living conditions among 
night-working mothers in thirty-nine textile 
mills in Rhode Island, based on exhaustive 
studies, Mrs. Florence Kelley describes the 
"normal" life of these women: 

"When the worker, cruelly tired from ten 
hours' work, comes home in the early morning, 
she usually scrambles together breakfast for 
the family. Eating little or nothing herself, 
and that hastily, she tumbles into bed not 
the immaculate bed in an airy bed-room with 
dark shades, but one still warm from its night 
occupants, in a stuffy little bed-room, darkened 
imperfectly if at all. After sleeping exhaust- 
edly for an hour perhaps she bestirs herself 
to get the children off to school, or care for 
insistent little ones, too young to appreciate 


that mother is tired out and must sleep. 
Perhaps later in the forenoon, she again drops 
into a fitful sleep, or she may have to wait 
until after dinner. There is the midday meal 
to get, and, if her husband cannot come home, 
his dinner-pail to pack with a hot lunch to be 
sent or carried to him. If he is not at home, 
the lunch is rather a makeshift. The midday 
meal is scarcely over before supper must be 
thought of. This has to be eaten hurriedly 
before the family are ready, for the mother 
must be in the mill at work, by 6, 6 : 30 or 
7 P. M. ... Many women in their inade- 
quate English, summed up their daily routine 
by, "Oh, me all time tired. Too much work, 
too much baby,, too little sleep!" 

"Only sixteen of the 166 married women 
were without children; thirty-two had three 
or more ; twenty had children one year old or 
under. There were 160 children under school- 
age, below six years, and 246 of school age." 

"A woman in ordinary circumstances," 
adds this impartial investigator, "with a hus- 
band and three children, if she does her own 
work, feels that her hands are full. How 
these mill-workers, many of them frail-look- 


ing, and many with confessedly poor health, 
can ever do two jobs is a mystery, when they 
are seen in their homes dragging about, pale, 
hollow-eyed and listless, often needlessly sharp 
and impatient with the children. These chil- 
dren are not only not mothered, never cher- 
ished, they are nagged and buffeted. The 
mothers are not superwomen, and like all 
human beings, they have a certain amount of 
strength and when that breaks, their nerves 

We are presented with a vivid picture of 
one of these slave-mothers : a woman of thirty- 
eight who looks at least fifty with her worn, 
furrowed face. Asked why she had been 
working at night for the past two years, she 
pointed to a six-months old baby she was car- 
rying, to the five small children swarming 
about her, and answered laconically, "Too 
much children!" She volunteered the infor- 
mation that there had been two more who had 
died. When asked why they had died, the 
poor mother shrugged her shoulders listlessly, 
and replied, "Don't know." In addition to 
bearing and rearing these children, her work 
would sap the vitality of any ordinary person. 


"She got home soon after four in the morning, 
cooked breakfast for the family and ate hastily 
herself. At 4.30 she was in bed, staying there 
until eight. But part of that time was dis- 
turbed for the children were noisy and the 
apartment was a tiny, dingy place in a base- 
ment. At eight she started the three oldest 
boys to school, and cleaned up the debris of 
breakfast and of supper the night before. At 
twelve she carried a hot lunch to her husband 
and had dinner ready for the three school chil- 
dren. In the afternoon, there were again 
dishes and cooking, and caring for three babies 
aged five, three years, and six months. At 
five, supper was ready for the family. The 
mother ate by herself and was off to work 
at 5:45." 

Another of the night-working mothers was 
a frail looking Frenchwoman of twenty-seven 
years, with a husband and five children rang- 
ing from eight years to fourteen months. 
Three other children had died. When visited, 
she was doing a huge washing. She was forced 
into night work to meet the expenses of the 
family. She estimated that she succeeded in 
getting five hours' sleep during the day. "I 


take my baby to bed with me, but he cries, and 
my little four-year-old boy cries, too, and 
comes in to make me get up, so you can't call 
that a very good sleep." 

The problem among unmarried women or 
those without family is not the same, this in- 
vestigator points out. "They sleep longer by 
day than they normally would by night." We 
are also informed that pregnant women work 
at night in the mills, sometimes up to the very 
hour of delivery. "It's queer," exclaimed a 
woman supervisor of one of the Rhode Island 
mills, "but some women, both on the day and 
the night shift, will stick to their work right 
up to the last minute, and will use every means 
to deceive you about their condition. I go 
around and talk to them, but make little 
impression. We have had several narrow 
escapes. ... A Polish mother with five chil- 
dren had worked in a mill by day or by night, 
ever since her marriage, stopping only to have 
her babies. One little girl had died several 
years ago, and the youngest child, says Mrs. 
Kelley, did not look promising. It had none 
of the charm of babyhood; its body and cloth- 


ing were filthy; and its lower lip and chin 
covered with repulsive black sores. 

It should be remembered that the Con- 
sumers' League, which publishes these reports 
on women in industry, is not advocating Birth 
Control education, but is aiming "to awaken 
responsibility for conditions under which goods 
are produced, and through investigation, 
education and legislation, to mobilize public 
opinion in behalf of enlightened standards for 
workers and honest products for all." Never- 
theless, in Miss Agnes de Lima's report of 
conditions in Passaic, New Jersey, we find the 
same tale of penalized, prostrate motherhood, 
bearing the crushing burden of economic in- 
justice and cruelty; the same blind but over- 
powering instincts of love and hunger driving 
young women into the factories to work, night 
in and night out, to support their procession of 
uncared for and undernourished babies. It is 
the married women with young children who 
work on the inferno-like shifts. They are 
driven to it by the low wages of their husbands. ,- 
They choose night work in order to be with 
their children in the daytime. They are afraid 


of the neglect and ill-treatment the children 
might receive at the hands of paid caretakers. 
Thus they condemn themselves to eighteen or 
twenty hours of daily toil. Surely no mother 
with three, four, five or six children can secure 
much rest by day. 

"Take almost any house" we read in the 
report of conditions in New Jersey "knock 
at almost any door and you will find a weary, 
tousled woman, half -dressed, doing her house- 
work, or trying to snatch an hour or two of 
sleep after her long night of work in the mill. 
. . . The facts are there for any one to see; 
the hopeless and exhausted woman, her clut- 
tered three or four rooms, the swarm of sickly 
and neglected children." 

These women claimed that night work was 
unavoidable, as their husbands received so little 
pay. This in spite of all our vaunted "high 
wages." Only three women were found who 
went into the drudgery of night work without 
being obliged to do so. Two had no children, 
and their husbands' earnings were sufficient 
for their needs. One of these was saving for 
a trip to Europe, and chose the night shift 
because she found it less strenuous than the 


day. Only four of the hundred women re- 
ported upon were unmarried, and ninety-two 
of the married women had children. Of the 
four childless married women, one had lost two 
children, and another was recovering from a 
recent miscarriage. There were five widows. 
The average number of children was three in 
a family. Thirty-nine of the mothers had four 
or more. Three of them had six children, and 
six of them had seven children apiece. These 
women ranged between the ages of twenty- 
five and forty, and more than half the children 
were less than seven years of age. Most of 
them had babies of one, two and three years 
of age. 

At the risk of repetition, we quote one of 
the typical cases reported by Miss De Lima 
with features practically identical with the 
individual cases reported from Rhode Island. 
It is of a mother who comes home from work 
at 5:30 every morning, falls on the bed from 
exhaustion, arises again at eight or nine o'clock 
to see that the older children are sent off to 
school. A son of five, like the rest of the 
children, is on a diet of coffee, milk costs too 
much. After the children have left for school, 


the overworked mother again tries to sleep, 
though the small son bothers her a great deal. 
Besides, she must clean the house, wash, iron, 
mend, sew and prepare the midday meal. She 
tries to snatch a little sleep in the afternoon, 
but explains: "When you got big family, all 
time work. Night-time in mill drag so long, 
so long; day-time in home go so quick." By 
five, this mother must get the family's supper 
ready, and dress for the night's work, which 
begins at seven. The investigator further 
reports: "The next day was a holiday, and for 
a diversion, Mrs. N. thought she would go up 
to the cemetery: 'I got some children up 
there,' she explained, 'and same time I get 
some air. No, I don't go nowheres, just to 
the mill and then home.' ' 

Here again, as in all reports on women in 
industry, we find the prevalence of pregnant 
women working on night-shifts, often to the 
very day of their delivery. "Oh, yes, plenty 
women, big bellies, work in the night time," 
one of the toiling mothers volunteered. 
"Shame they go, but what can do ?" The abuse 
was general. Many mothers confessed that 
owing to poverty they themselves worked up 


to the last week or even day before the birth 
of their children. Births were even reported 
in one of the mills during the night shift. A 
foreman told of permitting a night-working 
woman to leave at 6.30 one morning, and of 
the birth of her baby at 7. 30. Several women 
told of leaving the day-shift because of preg- 
nancy and of securing places on the night- 
shift where their condition was less conspicu- 
ous, and the bosses more tolerant. One 
mother defended her right to stay at work, says 
the report, claiming that as long as she could 
do her work, it was nobody's business. In a 
doorway sat a sickly and bloodless woman in 
an advanced stage of pregnancy. Her first 
baby had died of general debility. She had 
worked at night in the mill until the very day 
of its birth. This time the boss had told her 
she could stay if she wished, but reminded her 
of what had happened last time. So she had 
stopped work, as the baby was expected any 

Again and again we read the same story, 
which varies only in detail: the mother in the 
three black rooms; the sagging porch over- 
flowing with pale and sickly children ; the over- 


worked mother of seven, still nursing her 
youngest, who is two or three months old. 
Worn and haggard, with a skeleton-like child 
pulling at her breast, the woman tries to 
make the investigator understand. The 
grandmother helps to interpret. "She never 
sleeps," explains the old woman, "how can 
she with so many children?" She works up 
to the last moment before her baby comes, and 
returns to work as soon as they are four weeks 

Another apartment in the same house; an- 
other of those night- working mothers, who had 
just stopped because she is pregnant. The 
boss had kindly given her permission to stay 
on, but she found the reaching on the heavy 
spinning machines too hard. Three children, 
ranging in age from five to twelve years, are 
all sickly and forlorn and must be cared for. 
There is a tubercular husband, who is unable 
to work steadily, and is able to bring in only 
$12 a week. Two of the babies had died, one 
because the mother had returned to work too 
soon after its birth and had lost her milk. 
She had fed him tea and bread, "so he died." 

The most heartrending feature of it all in 


these homes of the mothers who work at 
night is the expression in the faces of the 
children; children of chance, dressed in rags, 
undernourished, underclothed, all predisposed 
to the ravages of chronic and epidemic 

The reports on infant mortality published * 
under the direction of the Children's Bureau 
substantiate for the United States of America 
the findings of the Galton Laboratory for 
Great Britain, showing that an abnormally 
high rate of fertility is usually associated with 
poverty, filth, disease, feeblemindedness and a 
high infant mortality rate. It is a common- 
place truism that a high birth-rate is accom- 
panied by a high infant-mortality rate. No 
longer is it necessary to dissociate cause and 
effect, to try to determine whether the high 
birth rate is the cause of the high infant mor- 
tality rate. It is sufficient to know that they 
are organically correlated along with other 
anti-social factors detrimental to individual, 
national and racial welfare. The figures 
presented by Hibbs 2 likewise reveal a much 

2 Henry H. Hibbs, Jr. Infant Mortality: Its Relation to So- 
cial and Industrial Conditions, p. 39. Russell Sage Founda- 
tion, New York, 1916. 


higher infant mortality rate for the later born 
children of large families. 

The statistics which show that the greatest 
number of children are born to parents whose 
earnings are the lowest, 3 that the direst 
poverty is associated with uncontrolled fe- 
cundity emphasize the character of the parent- 
hood we are depending upon to create the race 
of the future. 

A distinguished American opponent of 
Birth Control some years ago spoke of the 
"racial" value of this high infant mortality rate 
among the "unfit." He forgot, however, that 
the survival-rate of the children born of these 
overworked and fatigued mothers may never- 
theless be large enough, aided and abetted 
by philanthropies and charities, to form the 
greater part of the population of to-morrow. 
As Dr. Karl Pearson has stated: "Degen- 
erate stocks under present social conditions 
are not short-lived ; they live to have more than 
the normal size of family." 

Reports of charitable organizations; the 
famous "one hundred neediest cases" presented 

3 Cf. U. S. Department of Labor. Children's Bureau: In- 
fant Mortality Series, No. 11. p. 36. 


every year by the New York Times to arouse 
the sentimental generosity of its readers; 
statistics of public and private hospitals, 
charities and corrections; analyses of pauper- 
ism in town and country all tell the same tale 
of uncontrolled and irresponsible fecundity. 
The facts, the figures, the appalling truth are 
there for all to read. It is only in the remedy 
proposed, the effective solution, that investi- 
gators and students of the problem disagree. 

Confronted with the "startling and disgrace- 
ful" conditions of affairs indicated by the fact 
that a quarter of a million babies die every 
year in the United States before they are one 
year old, and that no less than 23,000 women 
die in childbirth, a large number of experts 
and enthusiasts have placed their hopes in 
maternity-benefit measures. 

Such measures sharply illustrate the super- 
ficial and fragmentary manner in which the 
whole problem of motherhood is studied to- 
day. It seeks a laisser faire policy of parent- 
hood or marriage, with an indiscriminating 
paternalism concerning maternity. It is as 
though the Government were to say: "Increase 
and multiply; we shall assume the responsi- 


bility of keeping your babies alive." Even 
granting that the administration of these 
measures might be made effective and effectual, 
which is more than doubtful, we see that they 
are based upon a complete ignorance or disre- 
gard of the most important fact in the situa- 
tion that of indiscriminate and irresponsible 
fecundity. They tacitly assume that all par- 
enthood is desirable, that all children should be 
born, and that infant mortality can be con- 
trolled by external aid. In the great world- 
problem of creating the men and women of 
to-morrow, it is not merely a question of sus- 
taining the lives of all children, irrespective of 
their hereditary and physical qualities, to the 
point where they, in turn, may reproduce their 
kind. Advocates of Birth Control offer and 
accept no such superficial solution. This 
philosophy is based upon a clearer vision and 
a more profound comprehension of human life. 
Of immediate relief for the crushed and en- 
slaved motherhood of the world through State 
aid, no better criticism has been made than that 
of Havelock Ellis: 

"To the theoretical philanthropist, eager to 
reform the world on paper, nothing seems 


simpler than to cure the present evils of child- 
rearing by setting up State nurseries which 
are at once to relieve mothers of everything 
connected with the men of the future beyond 
the pleasure if such it happens to be of 
conceiving them, and the trouble of bearing 
them, and at the same time to rear them up 
independently of the home, in a wholesome, 
economical and scientific manner. Nothing 
seems simpler, but from the fundamental 
psychological point of view nothing is falser. 
... A State which admits that the individ- 
uals composing it are incompetent to perform 
their most sacred and intimate functions, and 
takes it upon itself to perform them itself in- 
stead, attempts a task that would be undesir- 
able, even if it were possible of achievement. 4 " 
It may be replied that maternity benefit mea- 
sures aim merely to aid mothers more ade- 
quately to fulfil their biological and social 
functions. But from the point of view of 
Birth Control, that will never be possible until 
the crushing exigencies of overcrowding are re- 
moved overcrowding of pregnancies as well 
as of homes. As long as the mother remains 

4 Havelock Ellis, Sex in Relation to Society, p. 31. 


the passive victim of blind instinct, instead of 
the conscious, responsible instrument of the 
life-force, controlling and directing its expres- 
sion, there can be no solution to the intricate 
and complex problems that confront the whole 
world to-day. This is, of course, impossible 
as long as women are driven into the factories, 
on night as well as day shifts, as long as chil- 
dren and girls and young women are driven 
into industries to labor that is physically de- 
teriorating as a preparation for the supreme 
function of maternity. 

The philosophy of Birth Control insists that 
motherhood, no less than any other human 
function, must undergo scientific study, must 
be voluntarily directed and controlled with in- 
telligence and foresight. As long as we 
countenance what H. G. Wells has well termed 
"the monstrous absurdity of women discharg- 
ing their supreme social function, bearing and 
rearing children, in their spare time, as it were, 
while they 'earn their living' by contributing 
some half-mechanical element to some trivial 
industrial product" any attempt to furnish 
"maternal education" is bound to fall on stony 


Children brought into the world as the 
chance consequences of the blind play of uncon- 
trolled instinct, become likewise the helpless 
victims of their environment. It is because 
children are cheaply conceived that the infant 
mortality rate is high. But the greatest evil, 
perhaps the greatest crime, of our so-called 
civilization to-day, is not to be gauged by the 
infant-mortality rate. In truth, unfortunate 
babies who depart during their first twelve 
months are more fortunate in many respects 
than those who survive to undergo punishment 
for their parents' cruel ignorance and compla- 
cent fecundity. If motherhood is wasted 
under the present regime of "glorious fertil- 
ity," childhood is not merely wasted, but act- 
ually destroyed. Let us look at this matter 
from the point of view of the children who sur- 



FAILURE of emotional, sentimental and so- 
called idealistic efforts, based on hysterical en- 
thusiasm, to improve social conditions, is no- 
where better exemplified than in the under- 
valuation of child-life. A few years ago, the 
scandal of children under fourteen working in 
cotton mills was exposed. There was muck- 
raking and agitation. A wave of moral indig- 
nation swept over America. There arose a loud 
cry for immediate action. Then, having more 
or less successfully settled this particular mat- 
ter, the American people heaved a sigh of re- 
lief, settled back, and complacently congrat- 
ulated itself that the problem of child labor had 
been settled once and for all. 

Conditions are worse to-day than before. 
Not only is there child labor in practically 
every State in the Union, but we are now 
forced to realize the evils that result from child 



labor, of child laborers now grown into 
manhood and womanhood. But we wish here 
to point out a neglected aspect of this problem. 
Child labor shows us how cheaply we value 
childhood. And moreover, it shows us that 
cheap childhood is the inevitable result of 
chance parenthood. Child labor is organ- 
ically bound up with the problem of uncon- 
trolled breeding and the large family. 

The selective draft of 1917 which was de- 
signed to choose for military service only 
those fulfiling definite requirements of physi- 
cal and mental fitness showed some of the 
results of child labor. It established the fact 
that the majority of American children never 
got beyond the sixth grade, because they were 
forced to leave school at that time. Our over- 
advertised compulsory education does not com- 
pel and does not educate. The selective- 
draft, it is our duty to emphasize this fact, 
revealed that 38 per cent, of the young men 
(more than a million) were rejected because of 
physical ill-health and defects. And 25 per 
cent, were illiterate. 

These young men were the children of 
yesterday. Authorities tell us that 75 per 


cent, of the school-children are defective. This 
means that no less than fifteen million school- 
children, out of 22,000,000 in the United 
States, are physically or mentallly below 

This is the soil in which all sorts of serious 
evils strike root. It is a truism that children are 
the chief asset of a nation. Yet while the 
United States government allotted 92.8 per 
cent, of its appropriations for 1920 toward 
war expenses, three per cent, to public works, 
3.2 per cent, to "primary governmental func- 
tions," no more than one per cent, is appropri- 
ated to education, research and development. 
Of this one per cent., only a small proportion 
is devoted to public health. The conservation 
of childhood is a minor consideration. While 
three cents is spent for the more or less doubt- 
ful protection of women and children, fifty 
cents is given to the Bureau of Animal In- 
dustry, for the protection of domestic animals. 
In 1919, the State of Kansas appropriated 
$25,000 to protect the health of pigs, and 
$4,000 to protect the health of children. 
In four years our Federal Government ap- 
propriated roughly speaking $81 ,000,000 


for the improvement of rivers; $13,000,000 
for forest conservation; $8,000,000 for the ex- 
perimental plant industry; $7,000,000 for the 
experimental animal industry; $4,000,000 to 
combat the foot and mouth disease; and less 
than half a million for the protection of child 

Competent authorities tell us that no less 
than 75 per cent, of American children 
leave school between the ages of fourteen and 
sixteen to go to work. This number is in- 
creasing. According to the recently published 
report on "The Administration of the First 
Child Labor Law," in five states in which it 
was necessary for the Children's Bureau to 
handle directly the working certificates of chil- 
dren, one-fifth of the 25,000 children who ap- 
plied for certificates left school when they were 
in the fourth grade ; nearly a tenth of them had 
never attended school at all or had not gone be- 
yond the first grade; and only one-twenty-fifth 
had gone as far as the eighth grade. But 
their educational equipment was even more 
limited than the grade they attended would in- 
dicate. Of the children applying to go to work 
1,803 had not advanced further than the first 


grade even when they had gone to school 
at all; 3,379 could not even sign their own 
names legibly, and nearly 2,000 of them 
could not write at all. The report brings auto- 
matically into view the vicious circle of child- 
labor, illiteracy, bodily and mental defect, 
poverty and delinquency. And like all reports 
on child labor, the large family and reckless 
breeding looms large in the background as one 
of the chief factors in the problem. 

Despite all our boasting of the American 
public school, of the equal opportunity af- 
forded to every child in America, we have the 
shortest school-term, and the shortest school- 
day of any of the civilized countries. In the 
United States of America, there are 106 illiter- 
ates to every thousand people. In England 
there are 58 per thousand, Sweden and Nor- 
way have one per thousand. 

The United States is the most illiterate 
country in the world that is, of the so-called 
civilized countries. Of the 5,000,000 illiter- 
ates in the United States, 58 per cent are white 
and 28 per cent, native whites. Illiteracy 
not only is the index of inequality of oppor- 
tunity. It speaks as well a lack of considera- 


tion for the children. It means either that 
children have been forced out of school to go 
to work, or that they are mentally and physi- 
cally defective. 1 

One is tempted to ask why a society, which 
has failed so lamentably to protect the al- 
ready existing child life upon which its very 
perpetuation depends, takes upon itself the 
reckless encouragement of indiscriminate pro- 
creation. The United States Government has 
recently inaugurated a policy of restricting im- 
migration from foreign countries. Until it is 
able to protect childhood from criminal ex- 
ploitation, until it has made possible a reason- 
able hope of life, liberty and growth for Amer- 
ican children, it should likewise recognize the 
wisdom of voluntary restriction in the produc- 
tion of children. 

Reports on child labor published by the Na- 
tional Child Labor Committee only incident- 
ally reveal the correlation of this evil with that 
of large families. Yet this is evident through- 
out. The investigators are more bent upon 
regarding child labor as a cause of illiteracy. 

1 1 am indebted to the National Child Labor Committee for 
these statistics, as well as for many of the facts that follow. 


But it is no less a consequence of irresponsi- 
bility in breeding. A sinister aspect of this is 
revealed by Theresa Wolfson's study of child- 
labor in the beet-fields of Michigan. 2 As one 
weeder put it: "Poor man make no money, 
make plenty children plenty children good 
for sugar-beet business." Further illumin- 
ating details are given by Miss Wolf son: 
"Why did they come to the beet-fields? 
Most frequently families with large numbers 
of children said that they felt that the city was 
no place to raise children things too expens- 
ive and children ran wild in the country all 
the children could work." Living conditions 
are abominable and unspeakably wretched. 
An old woodshed, a long-abandoned barn, and 
occasionally a tottering, ramshackle farmer's 
house are the common types. "One family of 
eleven, the youngest child two years, the oldest 
sixteen years, lived in an old country store 
which had but one window; the wind and rain 
came through the holes in the walls, the ceiling 
was very low and the smoke from the stove 

2 "People Who Go to Beets" Pamphlet No. 299, National Child 
Labor Committee. 


filled the room. Here the family ate, slept, 
cooked and washed." 

"In Tuscola County a family of six was 
found living in a one-room shack with no win- 
dows. Light and ventilation was secured 
through the open doors. Little Charles, eight 
years of age, was left at home to take care of 
Dan, Annie and Pete, whose ages were five 
years, four years, and three months, respec- 
tively. In addition, he cooked the noonday 
meal and brought it to his parents in the field. 
The filth and choking odors of the shack made 
it almost unbearable, yet the baby was sleeping 
in a heap of rags piled up in a corner." 

Social philosophers of a certain school ad- 
vocate the return to the land it is only in 
the overcrowded city, they claim, that the evils 
resulting from the large family are possible. 
There is, according to this philosophy, no over- 
crowding, no over-population in the country, 
where in the open air and sunlight every child 
has an opportunity for health and growth. 
This idyllic conception of American country 
life does not correspond with the picture pre- 
sented by this investigator, who points out: 


"To promote the physical and mental de- 
velopment of the child, we forbid his employ- 
ment in factories, shops and stores. On the 
other hand, we are prone to believe that the 
right kind of farm-work is healthful and the 
best thing for children. But for a child to 
crawl along the ground, weeding beets in the 
hot sun for fourteen hours a day the average 
workday is far from being the best thing. 
The law of compensation is bound to work in 
some way, and the immediate result of this agri- 
cultural work is interference with school at- 

How closely related this form of child- 
slavery is to the over-large family, is definitely 
illustrated: "In the one hundred and thirty- 
three families visited, there were six hundred 
children. A conversation held with a "Roo- 
shian-German' woman is indicative of the size 
of most of the families : 

"How many children have you?" inquired 
the investigator. 

"Eight Julius, und Rose, und Martha, dey 
is mine; Gottlieb und Philip, und Frieda, dey 
is my husband's ; und Otto und Charlie dey 

are ours." 


Families with ten and twelve children were 
frequently found, while those of six and eight 
children are the general rule. The advantage 
of a large family in the beet fields is that it does 
the most work. In the one hundred thirty- 
three families interviewed, there were one hun- 
dred eighty-six children under the age of six 
years, ranging from eight weeks up ; thirty-six 
children between the ages of six and eight, ap- 
proximately twenty-five of whom had never 
been to school, and eleven over sixteen years of 
age who had never been to school. One ten- 
year-old boy had never been to school because 
he was a mental defective; one child of nine 
was practically blinded by cataracts. This 
child was found groping his way down the beet- 
rows pulling out weeds and feeling for the 
beet-plants in the glare of the sun he had lost 
all sense of light and dark. Of the three hun- 
dred and forty children who were not going 
or had never gone to school, only four had 
reached the point of graduation, and only one 
had gone to high school. These large families 
migrated to the beet-fields in early spring. 
Seventy-two per cent, of them are retarded. 
When we realize that feeble-mindedness is ar- 


rested development and retardation, we see that 
these "beet children" are artificially retarded in 
their growth, and that the tendency is to reduce 
their intelligence to the level of the congenital 

Nor must it be concluded that these large 
"beet" families are always the "ignorant 
foreigner" so despised by our respectable press. 
The following case throws some light on this 
matter, reported in the same pamphlet: "An 
American family, considered a prize by the 
agent because of the fact that there were nine 
children, turned out to be a 'flunk.' They 
could not work in the beet-fields, they ran up 
a bill at the country-store, and one day the 
father and the eldest son, a boy of nineteen, 
were seen running through the railroad sta- 
tion to catch an out-going train. The grocer 
thought they were 'jumping' their bill. He 
telephoned ahead to the sheriff of the next 
town. They were taken off the train by the 
sheriff and given the option of going back to 
the farm or staying in jail. They preferred 
to stay in jail, and remained there for two 
weeks. Meanwhile, the mother and her eight 
children, ranging in ages from seventeen years 


to nine months, had to manage the best way 
they could. At the end of two weeks, father 
and son were set free. . . . During all of this 
period the farmers of the community sent in 
provisions to keep the wife and children from 
starving." Does this case not sum up in a nut- 
shell the typical American intelligence con- 
fronted with the problem of the too-large fam- 
ily industrial slavery tempered with senti- 

Let us turn to a young, possibly a more pro- 
gressive state. Consider the case of "Cal- 
ifornia, the Golden" as it is named by Emma 
Duke, in her study of child-labor in the Impe- 
rial Valley, "as fertile as the Valley of the 
Nile." 3 Here, cotton is king, and rich ranch- 
ers, absentee landlords and others exploit it. 
Less than ten years ago ranchers would bring 
in hordes of laboring families, but refuse to 
assume any responsibility in housing them, 
merely permitting them to sleep on the 
grounds of the ranch. Conditions have been 
somewhat improved, but, sometimes, we read, 
"a one roomed straw house with an area of fif- 

s California the Golden, by Emma Duke. Reprinted from 
The American Child, Vol. II, No. 3. November 1920. 


teen by twenty feet will serve as a home for an 
entire family, which not only cooks but sleeps 
in the same room." Here, as in Michigan 
among the beets, children are "thick as bees." 
All kinds of children pick, Miss Duke reports, 
"even those as young as three years! Five- 
year-old children pick steadily all day. . . . 
Many white American children are among 
them pure American stock, who have grad- 
ually moved from the Carolinas, Tennessee, 
and other southern states to Arkansas, Texas, 
Oklahoma, Arizona, and on into the Imperial 
Valley." Some of these children, it seems, 
wanted to attend school, but their fathers did 
not want to work; so the children were forced 
to become bread-winners. One man whose 
children were working with him in the fields 
said," "Please, lady, don't send them to school; 
let them pick a while longer. I ain't got my 
new auto paid for yet." The native white 
American mother of children working in the 
fields proudly remarked: "No; they ain't never 
been to school, nor me nor their poppy, nor 
their grandads and grandmoms. We've al- 
ways been pickers !" and she spat her tobacco 
over the field in expert fashion. 


"In the Valley one hears from townspeople," 
writes the investigator, "that pickers make ten 
dollars a day, working the whole family. 
With that qualification, the statement is am- 
biguous. One Mexican in the Imperial Val- 
ley was the father of thirty-three children 
'about thirteen or fourteen living,' he said. 
If they all worked at cotton-picking, they 
would doubtless altogether make more than 
ten dollars a day." 

One of the child laborers revealed the eco- 
nomic advantage to the parents in numer- 
ous progeny : "Us kids most always drag from 
forty to fifty pounds of cotton before we take 
it to be weighed. Three of us pick. I'm 
twelve years old and my bag is twelve feet 
long. I can drag nearly a hundred pounds. 
My sister is ten years old, and her bag is eight 
feet long. My little brother is seven and his 
bag is five feet long." 

Evidence abounds in the publications of the 
National Child Labor Committee of this type 
of fecund parenthood. 4 It is not merely a 

*Cf. Child Welfare in Oklahoma; Child Welfare in Alabama; 
Child Welfare in North Carolina; Child Welfare in Kentucky; 
Child Welfare in Tennessee. ^Iso, Children in Agriculture, 
by Ruth Mclntire, and other studies. 


question of the large family versus the small 
family. Even comparatively small families 
among migratory workers of this sort have 
been large families. The high infant mor- 
tality rate has carried off the weaker chil- 
dren. Those who survive are merely those 
who have been strong enough to survive the 
most unfavorable living conditions. No; it is 
a situation not unique, nor even unusual in 
human history, of greed and stupidity and cu- 
pidity encouraging the procreative instinct 
toward the manufacture of slaves. We hear 
these days of the selfishness and the degrada- 
tion of healthy and well-educated women who 
refuse motherhood; but we hear little of the 
more sinister selfishness of men and women who 
bring babies into the world to become child- 
slaves of the kind described in these reports of 
child labor. 

The history of child labor in the English 
factories in the nineteenth century throws a 
suggestive light on this situation. These child- 
workers were really called into being by the 
industrial situation. The population grew, as 
Dean Inge has described it, like crops in a 
newly irrigated desert. During the nineteenth 


century, the numbers were nearly quadrupled. 
"Let those who think that the population of 
a country can be increased at will, consider 
whether it is likely that any physical, moral, or 
psychological change came over the nation co- 
incidentally with the inventions of the spin- 
ning jenny and the steam engine. It is too 
obvious for dispute that it was the possession of 
capital wanting employment, and of natural 
advantages for using it, that called those mul- 
titudes of human beings into existence, to eat 
the food which they paid for by their labor." 5 
But when child labor in the factories became 
such a scandal and such a disgrace that child- 
labor was finally forbidden by laws that pos- 
sessed the advantage over our own that they 
were enforced, the proletariat ceased to supply 
children. Almost by magic the birth rate 
among the workers declined. Since children 
were no longer of economic value to the facto- 
ries, they were evidently a drug in the home. 
This movement, it should not be forgotten 
however, was coincident with the agitation and 
education in Birth Control stimulated by the 
Besant-Bradlaugh trial. 

5W. R. Inge: Outspoken Essays: p. 92. 


Large families among migratory agricul- 
tural laborers in our own country are likewise 
brought into existence in response to an indus- 
trial demand. The enforcement of the child 
labor laws and the extension of their re- 
strictions are therefore an urgent necessity, 
not so much, as some of our child-labor author- 
ities believe, to enable these children to go to 
school, as to prevent the recruiting of our next 
generation from the least intelligent and most 
unskilled classes in the community. As long 
as we officially encourage and countenance the 
production of large families, the evils of child 
labor will confront us. On the other hand, 
the prohibition of child labor may help, as in 
the case of English factories, in the decline of 
the birth rate. 

Uncontrolled breeding and child labor go 
hand in hand. And to-day when we are con- 
fronted with the evils of the latter, in the form 
of widespread illiteracy and defect, we should 
seek causes more deeply rooted than the en- 
slavement of children. The cost to society is 
incalculable, as the National Child Labor 
Committee points out. "It is not only 
through the lowered power, the stunting and 


the moral degeneration of its individual mem- 
bers, but in actual expense, through the nec- 
essary provision for the human junk, created 
by premature employment, in poor-houses, 
hospitals, police and courts, jails and by chari- 
table organizations." 

To-day we are paying for the folly of the 
over-production and its consequences in per- 
manent injury to plastic childhood of yester- 
day. To-morrow, we shall be forced to pay 
for our ruthless disregard of our surplus chil- 
dren of to-day. The child-laborer of one or 
two decades ago has become the shifting laborer 
of to-day, stunted, underfed, illiterate, un- 
skilled, unorganized and unorganizable. "He 
is the last person to be hired and the first to be 
fired." Boys and girls under fourteen years 
of age are no longer permitted to work in fac- 
tories, mills, canneries and establishments 
whose products are to be shipped out of the 
particular state, and children under sixteen 
can no longer work in mines and quarries. 
But this affects only one quarter of our army 
of child labor work in local industries, stores, 
and farms, homework in dark and unsanitary 
tenements is still permitted. Children work 


in "homes," on artificial flowers, finishing 
shoddy garments, sewing their very life's 
blood and that of the race into tawdry clothes 
and gewgaws that are the most unanswerable 
comments upon our vaunted "civilization." 
And to-day, we must not forget, the child- 
laborer of yesterday is becoming the father 
or the mother of the child laborer of to-morrow. 
"Any nation that works its women is 
damned" once wrote Woods Hutchinson. The 
nation that works its children, one is tempted 
to add, is committing suicide. Loud-mouthed 
defenders of American democracy pay no at- 
tention to the strange fact that, although "the 
average education among all American adults 
is only the sixth grade," every one of these 
adults has an equal power at the polls. The 
American nation, with all its worship of 
efficiency and thrift, complacently forgets that 
"every child defective in body, education or 
character is a charge upon the community," as 
Herbert Hoover declared in an address be- 
fore the American Child Hygiene Association 
(October, 1920) : "The nation as a whole," he 
added, "has the obligation of such measures to- 
ward its children ... as will yield to them 


an equal opportunity at their start in life. If 
we could grapple with the whole child situation 
for one generation, our public health, our 
economic efficiency, the moral character, sanity 
and stability of our people would advance 
three generations in one." 

The great irrefutable fact that is ignored 
or neglected is that the American nation 
officially places a low value upon the lives of 
its children. The brutal truth is that children 
are cheap. When over-production in this 
field is curtailed by voluntary restriction, when 
the birth rate among the working classes takes 
a sharp decline, the value of children will rise. 
Then only will the infant mortality rate de- 
cline, and child labor vanish. 

Investigations of child labor emphasize its 
evils by pointing out that these children are 
kept out of school, and that they miss the ad- 
vantages of American public school education. 
They express the current confidence in com- 
pulsory education and the magical benefits to 
be derived from the public school. But we 
need to qualify our faith in education, and 
particularly our faith in the American public 
school. Educators are just beginning to wake 


up to the dangers inherent in the attempt to 
teach the brightest child and the mentally de- 
fective child at the same time. They are begin- 
ning to test the possibilities of a "vertical" 
classification as well as a "horizontal" one. 
That is, each class must be divided into what 
are termed Gifted, Bright, Average, Dull, 
Normal, and Defective. In the past the hel- 
ter-skelter crowding and over-crowding to- 
gether of all classes of children of approxi- 
mately the same age, produced only a dull 
leveling to mediocrity. 6 

An investigation of forty schools in New 
York City, typical of hundreds of others, re- 
veals deplorable conditions of overcrowding 
and lack of sanitation. 7 The worst condi- 
tions are to be found in locations the most 
densely populated. Thus of Public School 
No. 51, located almost in the center of the 
notorious "Hell's Kitchen" section, we read: 
"The play space which is provided is a mockery 
of the worst kind. The basement play-room 
is dark, damp, poorly lighted, poorly venti- 
lated, foul smelling, unclean, and wholly unfit 

Tredgold: Inheritance and Educability. Eugenics Re- 
view, Vol. XIII, No. I, pp. 839 et seq. 
7 Cf. New York Times, J'une 4, 1921. 


for children for purposes of play. The drain- 
pipes from the roof have decayed to such a 
degree that in some instances as little as a 
quarter of the pipe remains. On rainy days, 
water enters the class-rooms, hall-ways, 
corridors, and is thrown against windows be- 
cause the pipes have rotted away. The narrow 
stairways and halls are similar to those of jails 
and dungeons of a century ago. The class- 
rooms are poorly lighted, inadequately 
equipped, and in some cases so small that the 
desks of pupils and teachers occupy almost all 
of the floor-space." 

Another school, located a short distance from 
Fifth Avenue, the "wealthiest street in the 
world," is described as an "old shell of a 
structure, erected decades ago as a modern 
school building. Nearly two thousand chil- 
dren are crowded into class-rooms having a 
total seating capacity of scarcely one thousand. 
Narrow doorways, intricate hallways and anti- 
quated stairways, dark and precipitous, keep 
ever alive the danger of disaster from fire or 
panic. Only the eternal vigilance of excep- 
tional supervision has served to lessen the fear 
of such a catastrophe. Artificial light is 


necessary, even on the brightest days, in many 
of the class-rooms. In most of the class- 
rooms, it is always necessary when the sky is 
slightly overcast." There is no ventilating 

In the crowded East Side section conditions 
are reported to be no better. The Public 
Education Association's report on Public 
School No. 130 points out that the site at the 
corner of Hester and Baxter Streets was pur- 
chased by the city years ago as a school site, 
but that there has been so much "tweedledee- 
ing and tweedleduming" that the new build- 
ing which is to replace the old, has not even 
yet been planned! Meanwhile, year after 
year, thousands of children are compelled to 
study daily in dark and dingy class-rooms. 
"Artificial light is continually necessary," 
declares the report. "The ventilation is ex- 
tremely poor. The fire hazard is naturally 
great. There are no rest-rooms whatever for 
the teachers." Other schools in the neighbor- 
hood reveal conditions even worse. In two of 
them, for example; "In accordance with the 
requirements of the syllabus in hygiene in the 
schools, the vision of the children is regularly 


tested. In a recent test of this character, it 
was found in Public School 108, the rate of 
defective vision in the various grades ranged 
from 50 to 64 per cent.! In Public School 
106, the rate ranged from 43 to 94 per cent. !" 

The conditions, we are assured, are no ex- 
ceptions to the rule of public schools in New 
York, where the fatal effects of overcrowding 
in education may be observed in their most 
sinister but significant aspects. 

The forgotten fact in this case is that efforts 
for universal and compulsory education cannot 
keep pace with the overproduction of children. 
Even at the best, leaving out of consideration 
the public school system as the inevitable prey 
and plundering-ground of the cheap politician 
and job-hunter, present methods of wholesale 
and syndicated "education" are not suited to 
compete with the unceasing, unthinking, un- 
tiring procreative powers of our swarming, 
spawning populations. 

Into such schools as described in the recent 
reports of the Public Education Association, 
no intelligent parent would dare send his child. 
They are not merely fire-traps and culture- 
grounds of infection, but of moral and intel- 


lectual contamination as well. More and more 
are public schools in America becoming 
institutions for subjecting children to a narrow 
and reactionary orthodoxy, aiming to crush out 
all signs of individuality, and to turn out boys 
and girls compressed into a standardized 
pattern, with ready-made ideas on politics, 
religion, morality, and economics. True 
education cannot grow out of such compulsory 
herding of children in filthy fire-traps. 

Character, ability, and reasoning power 
are not to be developed in this fashion. In- 
deed, it is to be doubted whether even a com- 
pletely successful educational system could 
offset the evils of indiscriminate breeding and 
compensate for the misfortune of being a 
superfluous child. In recognizing the great 
need of education, we have failed to recognize 
the greater need of inborn health and character. 
"If it were necessary to choose between the 
task of getting children educated and getting 
them well born and healthy," writes Havelock 
Ellis, "it would be better to abandon education. 
There have been many great peoples who never 
dreamed of national systems of education; 
there have been no great peoples without the 


art of producing healthy and vigorous chil- 
dren. The matter becomes of peculiar im- 
portance in great industrial states, like 
England, the United States and Germany, be- 
cause in such states, a tacit conspiracy tends 
to grow up to subordinate national ends to 
individual ends, and practically to work for 
the deterioration of the race." 8 

Much less can education solve the great 
problem of child labor. Rather, under the 
conditions prevailing in modern society, 
child labor and the failure of the public schools 
to educate are both indices of a more deeply 
rooted evil. Both bespeak the undervaluation 
of the child. This undervaluation, this cheap- 
ening of child life, is to speak crudely but 
frankly the direct result of overproduction. 
"Restriction of output" is an immediate 
necessity if we wish to regain control of the 
real values, so that unimpeded, unhindered, 
and without danger of inner corruption, 
humanity may protect its own health and 

s "Studies in the Psychology of Sex," Vol. VI. p. 20. 



What vesture have you woven for my year? 
O Man and Woman who have fashioned it 
Together, is it fine and clean and strong, 
Made in such reverence of holy joy, 
Of such unsullied substance, that your hearts 
Leap with glad awe to see it clothing me, 
The glory of whose nakedness you know? 

-"The Song of the Unborn"- 

Amelia Josephine Burr 

THERE is but one practical and feasible pro- 
gram in handling the great problem of the 
feeble-minded. That is, as the best author- 
ities are agreed, to prevent the birth of those 
who would transmit imbecility to their descen- 
dants. Feeble-mindedness as investigations 
and statistics from every country indicate, is 
invariably associated with an abnormally high 
rate of fertility. Modern conditions of civil- 
ization, as we are continually being reminded, 



furnish the most favorable breeding-ground 
for the mental defective, the moron, the im- 
becile. "We protect the members of a weak 
strain," says Davenport, "up to the period of 
reproduction, and then let them free upon the 
community, and encourage them to leave a 
large progeny of * feeble-minded' : which in 
turn, protected from mortality and carefully 
nurtured up to the reproductive period, are 
again set free to reproduce, and so the stupid 
work goes on of preserving and increasing our 
socially unfit strains." 

The philosophy of Birth Control points out 
that as long as civilized communities encourage 
unrestrained fecundity in the "normal" mem- 
bers of the population always of course under 
the cloak of decency and morality and 
penalize every attempt to introduce the 
principle of discrimination and responsibility 
in parenthood, they will be faced with the ever- 
increasing problem of feeble-mindedness, 
that fertile parent of degeneracy, crime, and 
pauperism. Small as the percentage of the 
imbecile and half-witted may seem in com- 
parison with the normal members of the com- 
munity, it should always be remembered that 


feeble-mindedness is not an unrelated ex- 
pression of modern civilization. Its roots 
strike deep into the social fabric. Modern 
studies indicate that insanity, epilepsy, crimin- 
ality, prostitution, pauperism, and mental de- 
fect, are all organically bound up together and 
that the least intelligent and the thoroughly de- 
generate classes in every community are the 
most prolific. Feeble-mindedness in one gen- 
eration becomes pauperism or insanity in the 
next. There is every indication that feeble- 
mindedness in its protean forms is on the in- 
crease, that it has leaped the barriers, and that 
there is truly, as some of the scientific eugenists 
have pointed out, a feeble-minded peril to 
future generations unless the feeble-minded 
are prevented from reproducing their kind. 
To meet this emergency is the immediate and 
peremptory duty of every State and of all com- 

The curious situation has come about that 
while our statesmen are busy upon their prop- 
aganda of "repopulation," and are encourag- 
ing the production of large families, they are 
ignoring the exigent problem of the elimination 
of the feeble-minded. In this, however, the 


politicians are at one with the traditions of a 
civilization which, with its charities and philan- 
thropies, has propped up the defective and 
degenerate and relieved them of the burdens 
borne by the healthy sections of the community, 
thus enabling them more easily and more 
numerously to propagate their kind. "With 
the very highest motives," declares Dr. Walter 
E. Fernald, "modern philanthropic efforts 
often tend to foster and increase the growth of 
defect in the community. . . . The only 
feeble-minded persons who now receive any 
official consideration are those who have al- 
ready become dependent or delinquent, many 
of whom have already become parents. We 
lock the barn-door after the horse is stolen. 
We now have state commissions for controlling 
the gipsy-moth and the boll weevil, the foot- 
and-mouth disease, and for protecting the 
shell-fish and wild game, but we have no com- 
mission which even attempts to modify or to 
control the vast moral and economic forces 
represented by the feeble-minded persons at 
large in the community." 

How the feeble-minded and their always 
numerous progeny run the gamut of police, 


alms-houses, courts, penal institutions, "chari- 
ties and corrections," tramp shelters, lying-in 
hospitals, and relief afforded by privately en- 
dowed religious and social agencies, is shown 
in any number of reports and studies of family 
histories. We find cases of feeble-mindedness 
and mental defect in the reports on infant 
mortality referred to in a previous chapter, as 
well as in other reports published by the United 
States government. Here is a typical case 
showing the astonishing ability to "increase 
and multiply," organically bound up with de- 
linquency and defect of various types : 

"The parents of a feeble-minded girl, twenty 
years of age, who was committed to the Kansas 
State Industrial Farm on a vagrancy charge, 
lived in a thickly populated Negro district 
which was reported by the police to be the head- 
quarters for the criminal element of the sur- 
rounding State. . . . The mother married at 
fourteen, and her first child was born at fifteen. 
In rapid succession she gave birth to sixteen 
live-born children and had one miscarriage. 
The first child, a girl, married but separated 
from her husband. . . . The fourth, fifth and 
sixth, all girls, died in infancy or early child- 


hood. The seventh, a girl, remarried after the 
death of her husband, from whom she had been 
separated. The eighth, a boy who early in 
life began to exhibit criminal tendencies, was 
in prison for highway robbery and burglary. 
The ninth, a girl, normal mentally, was in 
quarantine at the Kansas State Industrial 
Farm at the time this study was made; she 
had lived with a man as his common-law wife, 
and had also been arrested several times for 
soliciting. The tenth, a boy, was involved in 
several delinquencies when young and was sent 
to the detention-house but did not remain 
there long. The eleventh, a boy ... at the 
age of seventeen was sentenced to the peni- 
tentiary for twenty years on a charge of first- 
degree robbery; after serving a portion of his 
time, he was paroled, and later was shot and 
killed in a fight. The twelfth, a boy, was at fif- 
teen years of age implicated in a murder and 
sent to the industrial school, but escaped from 
there on a bicycle which he had stolen ; at eigh- 
teen, he was shot and killed by a woman. The 
thirteenth child, feeble-minded, is the girl of 
the study. The fourteenth, a boy was consid- 
ered by the police to be the best member of the 


family; his mother reported him to be much 
slower mentally than his sister just mentioned; 
he had been arrested several times. Once, he 
was held in the detention-home and once sent to 
the State Industrial school; at other times, he 
was placed on probation. The fifteenth, a 
girl sixteen years old, has for a long time had a 
bad reputation. Subsequent to the commit- 
ment of her sister to the Kansas State Indus- 
trial Farm, she was arrested on a charge of 
vagrancy, found to be syphilitic, and qua- 
rantined in a state other than Kansas. At 
the time of her arrest, she stated that prosti- 
tution was her occupation. The last child 
was a boy of thirteen years whose history was 
not secured. . . ." 

The notorious fecundity of feeble-minded 
women is emphasized in studies and investi- 
gations of the problem, coming from all coun- 
tries "The feeble-minded woman is twice as 
prolific as the normal one." Sir James 
Crichton-Browne speaks of the great numbers 
of feeble-minded girls, wholly unfit to become 
mothers, who return to the work-house year 
after year to bear children, "many of whom 

i United States Public Health Service: Psychiatric Studies of 
Delinquents. Reprint No. 598: pp. 64-65. 


happily die, but some of whom survive to re- 
cruit our idiot establishments and to repeat 
their mothers' performances." Tredgold 
points out that the number of children born 
to the feeble-minded is abnormally high. 
Feeble-minded women "constitute a perma- 
nent menace to the race and one which becomes 
serious at a time when the decline of the 
birth-rate is ... unmistakable." Dr. Tred- 
gold points out that "the average number of 
children born in a family is four, whereas in 
these degenerate families, we find an average 
of 7.3 to each. Out of this total only a little 
more than one-third 456 out of a total of 
1,269 children can be considered profitable 
members of the community, and that, be it 
remembered, at the parents' valuation. 

Another significant point is the number of 
mentally defective children who survive. 
"Out of the total number of 526 mentally 
affected persons in the 150 families, there are 
245 in the present generation an unusually 
large survival." 2 

Speaking for Bradford, England, Dr. Helen 

2 The Problem of the Feeble-minded: An Abstract of the 
Report of the Royal Commission on the Cure and Control of 
the Feeble-Minded, London: P. S. King & Son, 


U. Campbell touches another significant and 
interesting point usually neglected by the 
advocates of mothers' pensions, milk-stations, 
and maternity-education programs. 

"We are also confronted with the problem 
of the actually mentally deficient, of the more 
or less feeble-minded, and the deranged, 
epileptic ... or otherwise mentally ab- 
normal mother," writes this authority. "The 
'bad mothering' of these cases is quite unim- 
provable at an infant welfare center, and a 
very definite if not relatively very large per- 
centage of our infants are suffering severely as 
a result of dependence upon such 'mother- 
ing.' " 3 

Thus we are brought face to face with an- 
other problem of infant mortality. Are we 
to check the infant mortality rate among the 
feeble-minded and aid the unfortunate off- 
spring to grow up, a menace to the civilized 
community even when not actually certifiable 
as mentally defective or not obviously imbecile? 

Other figures and studies indicate the close 
relationship between feeble-mindedness and 
the spread of the venereal scourges. We are 

sCf. Feeble-Minded in Ontario: Fourteenth Report for the 
year ending October 31st, 1919. 


informed that in Michigan, 75 per cent, of the 
prostitute- class is infected with some form of 
venereal disease, and that 75 per cent, of the 
infected are mentally defective, morons, 
imbeciles, or "border-line" cases most danger- 
ous to the community at large. At least 25 
per cent, of the inmates of our prisons, accord- 
ing to Dr. Fernald, are mentally defective and 
belong either to the feeble-minded or to the 
defective-delinquent class. Nearly 50 per 
cent, of the girls sent to reformatories are 
mental defectives. To-day, society treats 
feeble-minded or "defective delinquent" men 
or women as "criminals," sentences them to 
prison or reformatory for a "term," and then 
releases them at the expiration of their sen- 
tences. They are usually at liberty just long 
enough to reproduce their kind, and then they 
return again and again to prison. The truth 
of this statement is evident from the extremely 
large proportion in institutions of neglected 
and dependent children, who are the feeble- 
minded offspring of such feeble-minded 

Confronted with these shocking truths about 
the menace of feeble-mindedness to the race, 


a menace acute because of the unceasing and 
unrestrained fertility of such defectives, we 
are apt to become the victims of a "wild panic 
for instant action." There is no occasion for 
hysterical, ill-considered action, specialists tell 
us. They direct our attention to another 
phase of the problem, that of the so-called 
"good feeble-minded." We are informed that 
imbecility, in itself, is not synonymous with 
badness. If it is fostered in a "suitable en- 
vironment," it may express itself in terms of 
good citizenship and useful occupation. It 
may thus be transmuted into a docile, tractable, 
and peaceable element of the community. 
The moron and the feeble-minded, thus pro- 
tected, so we are assured, may even marry 
some brighter member of the community, and 
thus lessen the chances of procreating another 
generation of imbeciles. We read further that 
some of our doctors believe that "in our social 
scale, there is a place for the good feeble- 

In such a reckless and thoughtless differen- 
tiation between the "bad" and the "good" 
feeble-minded, we find new evidence of the 
conventional middle-class bias that also finds 


expression among some of the eugenists. We 
do not object to feeble-mindedness simply 
because it leads to immorality and criminality ; 
nor can we approve of it when it expresses 
itself in docility, submissiveness and obedience. 
We object because both are burdens and 
dangers to the intelligence of the community. 
As a matter of fact, there is sufficient evidence 
to lead us to believe that the so-called "border- 
line cases" are a greater menace than the out- 
and-out "defective delinquents" who can be 
supervised, controlled and prevented from 
procreating their kind. The advent of the 
Binet-Simon and similar psychological tests 
indicates that the mental defective who is glib 
and plausible, bright looking and attractive, 
but with a mental vision of seven, eight or nine 
years, may not merely lower the whole level 
of intelligence in a school or in a society, but 
may be encouraged by church and state to 
increase and multiply until he dominates and 
gives the prevailing "color" culturally 
speaking to an entire community. 

The presence in the public schools of the 
mentally defective children of men and women 
who should never have been parents is a 


problem that is becoming more and more dif- 
ficult, and is one of the chief reasons for lower 
educational standards. As one of the greatest 
living authorities on the subject, Dr. A. Tred- 
gold, has pointed out, 4 this has created a de- 
structive conflict of purpose. "In the case 
of children with a low intellectual capacity, 
much of the education at present provided is 
for all practical purposes a complete waste of 
time, money and patience. . . . On the other 
hand, for children of high intellectual capacity, 
our present system does not go far enough. 
I believe that much innate potentiality remains 
undeveloped, even amongst the working 
classes, owing to the absence of opportunity 
for higher education, to the disadvantage of 
the nation. In consequence of these funda- 
mental differences, the catchword 'equality 
of opportunity' is meaningless and mere clap- 
trap in the absence of any equality to respond 
to such opportunity. What is wanted is not 
equality of opportunity, but education adapted 
to individual potentiality; and if the time and 
money now spent in the fruitless attempt to 
make silk-purses out of sows' ears, were de- 

* Eugenics Review, Vol. XIII, p. 339 et seq. 


voted to the higher education of children of 
good natural capacity, it would contribute 
enormously to national efficiency." 

In a much more complex manner than has 
been recognized even by students of this prob- 
lem, the destiny and the progress of civil- 
ization and of human expression has been 
hindered and held back by this burden of the 
imbecile and the moron. While we may ad- 
mire the patience and the deep human sym- 
pathy with which the great specialists in feeble- 
mindedness have expressed the hope of drying 
up the sources of this evil or of rendering it 
harmless, we should not permit sympathy or 
sentimentality to blind us to the fact that 
health and vitality and human growth likewise 
need cultivation. "A laisser faire policy," 
writes one investigator, "simply allows the 
social sore to spread. And a quasi laisser faire 
policy wherein we allow the defective to com- 
mit crime and then interfere and imprison 
him, wherein we grant the defective the 
personal liberty to do as he pleases, until he 
pleases to descend to a plane of living below the 
animal level, and try to care for a few of his 
descendants who are so helpless that they can 


no longer exercise that personal liberty to do 
as they please," such a policy increases and 
multiplies the dangers of the over-fertile feeble- 
minded. 5 

The Mental Survey of the State of Oregon 
recently published by the United States 
Health Service, sets an excellent example and 
should be followed by every state in the Union 
and every civilized country as well. It is 
greatly to the credit of the Western State that 
it is one of the first officially to recognize the 
primary importance of this problem and to 
realize that facts, no matter how fatal to self- 
satisfaction, must be faced. This survey, 
authorized by the state legislature, and carried 
out by the University of Oregon, in collabor- 
ation with Dr. C. L. Carlisle of the Public 
Health service, aided by a large number 
of volunteers, shows that only a small per- 
centage of mental defectives and morons 
are in the care of institutions. The rest are 
widely scattered and their condition unknown 
or neglected. They are docile and submis- 
sive. They do not attract attention to them- 

5 Dwellers in the Vale of Siddem: A True Story of the So- 
cial Aspect of Feeble-mindedness. By A. C. Rogers and 
Maud A. Merrill; Boston (1919). 


selves as do the criminal delinquents and the 
insane. Nevertheless, it is estimated that they 
number no less than 75,000 men, women, and 
children, out of a total population of 783,000, 
or about ten per cent. Oregon, it is thought, 
is no exception to other states. Yet under our 
present conditions, these people are actually 
encouraged to increase and multiply and re- 
plenish the earth. 

Concerning the importance of the Oregon 
survey, we may quote Surgeon General H. C. 
Gumming: "The prevention and correction of 
mental defectiveness is one of the great pub- 
lic health problems of to-day. It enters into 
many phases of our work and its influence 
continually crops up unexpectedly. For in- 
stance, work of the Public Health Service in 
connection with juvenile courts shows that a 
marked proportion of juvenile delinquency is 
traceable to some degree of mental deficiency 
in the offender. For years Public Health 
officials have concerned themselves only with 
the disorders of physical health; but now they 
are realizing the significance of mental health 
also. The work in Oregon constitutes the 
first state-wide survey which even begins to 


disclose the enormous drain on a state, caused 
by mental defects. One of the objects of the 
work was to obtain for the people of Oregon 
an idea of the problem that confronted them 
and the heavy annual loss, both economic and 
industrial, that it entailed. Another was to 
enable the legislators to devise a program that 
would stop much of the loss, restore to health 
and bring to lives of industrial usefulness, 
many of those now down and out, and above 
all, to save hundreds of children from grow- 
ing up to lives of misery." 

It will be interesting to see how many of 
our State Legislatures have the intelligence 
and the courage to follow in the footsteps of 
Oregon in this respect. Nothing could more 
effectually stimulate discussion, and awaken 
intelligence as to the extravagance and cost 
to the community of our present codes of tra- 
ditional morality. But we should make sure in 
all such surveys, that mental defect is not con- 
cealed even in such dignified bodies as state 
legislatures and among those leaders who are 
urging men and women to reckless and ir- 
responsible procreation. 

I have touched upon these various aspects 


of the complex problem of the feeble-minded, 
and the menace of the moron to human 
society, not merely for the purpose of reiterat- 
ing that it is one of the greatest and most 
difficult social problems of modern times, de- 
manding an immediate, stern and definite pol- 
icy, but because it illustrates the actual harvest 
of reliance upon traditional morality, upon the 
biblical injunction to increase and multiply, a 
policy still taught by politician, priest and 
militarist. Motherhood has been held uni- 
versally sacred; yet, as Bouchacourt pointed 
out, "to-day, the dregs of the human species, 
the blind, the deaf-mute, the degenerate, the 
nervous, the vicious, the idiotic, the imbecile, 
the cretins and the epileptics are better pro- 
tected than pregnant women." The syphil- 
itic, the irresponsible, the feeble-minded are 
encouraged to breed unhindered, while all the 
powerful forces of tradition, of custom, or 
prejudice, have bolstered up the desperate ef- 
fort to block the inevitable influence of true 
civilization in spreading the principles of in- 
dependence, self-reliance, discrimination and 
foresight upon which the great practice of in- 
telligent parenthood is based, 


To-day we are confronted by the results of 
this official policy. There is no escaping it; 
there is no explaining it away. Surely it is 
an amazing and discouraging phenomenon 
that the very governments that have seen fit 
to interfere in practically every phase of the 
normal citizen's life, dare not attempt to re- 
strain, either by force or persuasion, the moron 
and the imbecile from producing his large 
family of feeble-minded offspring. 

In my own experience, I recall vividly the 
case of a feeble-minded girl who every year, 
for a long period, received the expert atten- 
tion of a great specialist in one of the best- 
known maternity hospitals of New York City. 
The great obstetrician, for the benefit of in- 
terns and medical students, performed each 
year a Caesarian operation upon this unfortun- 
ate creature to bring into the world her defec- 
tive, and, in one case at least, her syphilitic, 
infant. "Nelly" was then sent to a special 
room and placed under the care of a day nurse 
and a night nurse, with extra and special nour- 
ishment provided. Each year she returned 
to the hospital. Such cases are not exceptions ; 


any experienced doctor or nurse can recount 
similar stories. In the interest of medical 
science this practice may be justified. I am 
not criticising it from that point of view. I 
realize as well as the most conservative moral- 
ist that humanity requires that healthy mem- 
bers of the race should make certain sacrifices 
to preserve from death those unfortunates who 
are born with hereditary taints. But there is 
a point at which philanthropy may become 
positively dysgenic, when charity is converted 
into injustice to the self-supporting citizen, 
into positive injury to the future of the race. 
Such a point, it seems obvious, is reached when 
the incurably defective are permitted to pro- 
create and thus increase their numbers. 

The problem of the dependent, delinquent 
and defective elements in modern society, 
we must repeat, cannot be minimized be- 
cause of their alleged small numerical pro- 
portion to the rest of the population. The 
proportion seems small only because we ac- 
custom ourselves to the habit of looking upon 
feeble-mindedness as a separate and distinct 
calamity to the race, as a chance phenomenon 


unrelated to the sexual and biological customs 
not only condoned but even encouraged by our 
so-called civilization. The actual dangers can 
only be fully realized when we have acquired 
definite information concerning the financial 
and cultural cost of these classes to the 
community, when we become fully cognizant 
of the burden of the imbecile upon the whole 
human race ; when we see the funds that should 
be available for human development, for scien- 
tific, artistic and philosophic research, being 
diverted annually, by hundreds of millions of 
dollars, to the care and segregation of men, 
women, and children who never should have 
been born. The advocate of Birth Control 
realizes as well as all intelligent thinkers the 
dangers of interfering with personal liberty. 
Our whole philosophy is, in fact, based upon 
the fundamental assumption that man is a self- 
conscious, self-governing creature, that he 
should not be treated as a domestic animal; 
that he must be left free, at least within certain 
wide limits, to follow his own wishes in the 
matter of mating and in the procreation of 
children. Nor do we believe that the commu- 
nity could or should send to the lethal chamber 


the defective progeny resulting from irrespon- 
sible and unintelligent breeding. 

But modern society, which has respected the 
personal liberty of the individual only in re- 
gard to the unrestricted and irresponsible 
bringing into the world of filth and poverty 
an overcrowding procession of infants fore- 
doomed to death or hereditable disease, is now 
confronted with the problem of protecting it- 
self and its future generations against the in- 
evitable consequences of this long-practised 
policy of laisser-faire. 

The emergency problem of segregation and 
sterilization must be faced immediately. 
Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the 
hereditary type, especially of the moron class, 
should be segregated during the reproductive 
period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to 
bear imbecile children, who in turn are just 
as certain to breed other defectives. The 
male defectives are no less dangerous. Seg- 
regation carried out for one or two gener- 
ations would give us only partial control of 
the problem. Moreover, when we realize that 
each feeble-minded person is a potential source 
of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the 


policy of immediate sterilization, of making 
sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to 
the feeble-minded. 

This, I say, is an emergency measure. But 
how are we to prevent the repetition in the 
future of a new harvest of imbecility, the re- 
currence of new generations of morons and de- 
fectives, as the logical and inevitable conse- 
quence of the universal application of the tra- 
ditional and widely approved command to in- 
crease and multiply? 

At the present moment, we are offered three 
distinct and more or less mutually exclusive 
policies by which civilization may hope to pro- 
tect itself and the generations of the future 
from the allied dangers of imbecility, defect 
and delinquency. No one can understand the 
necessity for Birth Control education without 
a complete comprehension of the dangers, the 
inadequacies, or the limitations of the present 
attempts at control, or the proposed programs 
for social reconstruction and racial regener- 
ation. It is, therefore, necessary to inter- 
pret and criticize the three programs offered 
to meet our emergency. These may be briefly 
summarized as follows: 


(1) Philanthropy and Charity: This is the 
present and traditional method of meeting the 
problems of human defect and dependence, of 
poverty and delinquency. It is emotional, 
altruistic, at best ameliorative, aiming to meet 
the individual situation as it arises and pre- 
sents itself. Its effect in practise is seldom, 
if ever, truly preventive. Concerned with 
symptoms, with the allaying of acute and catas- 
trophic miseries, it cannot, if it would, strike 
at the radical causes of social misery. At its 
worst, it is sentimental and paternalistic. 

(2) Marxian Socialism: This may be con- 
sidered typical of many widely varying 
schemes of more or less revolutionary social 
reconstruction, emphasizing the primary im- 
portance of environment, education, equal 
opportunity, and health, in the elimination 
of the conditions (i. e. capitalistic control 
of industry) which have resulted in bi- 
ological chaos and human waste. I shall 
attempt to show that the Marxian doctrine is 
both too limited, too superficial and too frag- 
mentary in its basic analysis of human nature 
and in its program of revolutionary recon- 


(3) Eugenics: Eugenics seems to me to be 
valuable in its critical and diagnostic aspects, 
in emphasizing the danger of irresponsible 
and uncontrolled fertility of the "unfit" and 
the feeble-minded establishing a progressive 
unbalance in human society and lowering the 
birth-rate among the "fit." But in its so-called 
"constructive" aspect, in seeking to reestablish 
the dominance of healthy strain over the un- 
healthy, by urging an increased birth-rate 
among the fit, the Eugenists really offer noth- 
ing more farsighted than a "cradle competi- 
tion" between the fit and the unfit. They 
suggest in very truth, that all intelligent and 
respectable parents should take as their ex- 
ample in this grave matter of child-bearing 
the most irresponsible elements in the com- 



"Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the 
good is an extreme cruelty. It is a deliberate storing 
up of miseries for future generations. There is no 
greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them 
an increasing population of imbeciles." 

Herbert Spencer 

THE last century has witnessed the rise and 
development of philanthropy and organized 
charity. Coincident with the all-conquering 
power of machinery and capitalistic control, 
with the unprecedented growth of great cities 
and industrial centers, and the creation of 
great proletarian populations, modern civil- 
ization has been confronted, to a degree 
hitherto unknown in human history, with the 
complex problem of sustaining human life in 
surroundings and under conditions flagrantly 

The program, as I believe all competent 



authorities in contemporary philanthropy and 
organized charity would agree, has been altered 
in aim and purpose. It was first the out- 
growth of humanitarian and altruistic ideal- 
ism, perhaps not devoid of a strain of senti- 
mentalism, of an idealism that was aroused 
by a desperate picture of human misery in- 
tensified by the industrial revolution. It has 
developed in later years into a program not 
so much aiming to succor the unfortunate vic- 
tims of circumstances, as to effect what we 
may term social sanitation. Primarily, it is 
a program of self -protection. Contemporary 
philanthropy, I believe, recognizes that ex- 
treme poverty and overcrowded slums are ver- 
itable breeding-grounds of epidemics, disease, 
delinquency and dependency. Its aim, there- 
fore, is to prevent the individual family from 
sinking to that abject condition in which it 
will become a much heavier burden upon so- 

There is no need here to criticize the obvious 
limitations of organized charities in meeting 
the desperate problem of destitution. We 
are all familiar with these criticisms : the com- 
mon indictment of "inefficiency" so often 


brought against public and privately endowed 
agencies. The charges include the high cost 
of administration; the pauperization of de- 
serving poor, and the encouragement and fos- 
tering of the "undeserving"; the progressive 
destruction of self-respect and self -reliance .by 
the paternalistic interference of social agencies ; 
the impossibility of keeping pace with the ever- 
increasing multiplication of factors and influ- 
ences responsible for the perpetuation of 
human misery ; the misdirection and misappro- 
priation of endowments; the absence of inter- 
organization and coordination of the various 
agencies of church, state, and privately en- 
dowed institutions; the "crimes of charity" 
that are occasionally exposed in newspaper 
scandals. These and similar strictures we 
may ignore as irrelevant to our present pur- 
pose, as inevitable but not incurable faults 
that have been and are being eliminated in 
the slow but certain growth of a beneficent 
power in modern civilization. In reply to 
such criticisms, the protagonist of modern 
philanthropy might justly point to the honest 
and sincere workers and disinterested scientists 
it has mobilized, to the self-sacrificing and 


hard-working executives who have awakened 
public attention to the evils of poverty and the 
menace to the race engendered by misery and 

Even if we accept organized charity at 
its own valuation, and grant that it does the 
best it can, it is exposed to a more profound 
criticism. It reveals a fundamental and ir- 
remediable defect. Its very success, its very 
efficiency, its very necessity to the social order, 
are themselves the most unanswerable indict- 
ment. Organized charity itself is the symptom 
of a malignant social disease. 

Those vast, complex, interrelated organ- 
izations aiming to control and to diminish the 
spread of misery and destitution and all the 
menacing evils that spring out of this sinisterly 
fertile soil, are the surest sign that our civil- 
ization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuat- 
ing constantly increasing numbers of de- 
fectives, delinquents and dependents. My 
criticism, therefore, is not directed at the 
"failure" of philanthropy, but rather at its 

These dangers inherent in the very idea of 
humanitarianism and altruism, dangers which 


have to-day produced their full harvest of 
human waste, of inequality and inefficiency, 
were fully recognized in the last century at 
the moment when such ideas were first put into 
practice. Readers of Huxley's attack on the 
Salvation Army will recall his penetrating 
and stimulating condemnation of the debauch 
of sentimentalism which expressed itself in so 
uncontrolled a fashion in the Victorian era. 
One of the most penetrating of American 
thinkers, Henry James, Sr., sixty or seventy 
years ago wrote: "I have been so long ac- 
customed to see the most arrant deviltry tran- 
sact itself in the name of benevolence, that the 
moment I hear a profession of good will from 
almost any quarter, I instinctively look around 
for a constable or place my hand within reach 
of a bell-rope. My ideal of human inter- 
course would be a state of things in which no 
man will ever stand in need of any other man's 
help, but will derive all his satisfaction from 
the great social tides which own no individual 
names. I am sure no man can be put in 
a position of dependence upon another, with- 
out the other's very soon becoming if he ac- 
cepts the duties of the relation utterly 


degraded out of his just human proportions. 
No man can play the Deity to his fellow man 
with impunity I mean, spiritual impunity, 
of course. For see: if I am at all satisfied 
with that relation, if it contents me to be in a 
position of generosity towards others, I must 
be remarkably indifferent at bottom to the 
gross social inequality which permits that 
position, and, instead of resenting the enforced 
humiliation of my fellow man to myself in the 
interests of humanity, I acquiesce in it for the 
sake of the profit it yields to my own self- 
complacency. I do hope the reign of benev- 
olence is over; until that event occurs, I am 
sure the reign of God will be impossible." 

To-day, we may measure the evil effects of 
"benevolence" of this type, not merely upon 
those who have indulged in it, but upon the 
community at large. These effects have been 
reduced to statistics and we cannot, if we 
would, escape their significance. Look, for 
instance (since they are close at hand, and 
fairly representative of conditions elsewhere) 
at the total annual expenditures of public and 
private "charities and corrections" for the 
State of New York. For the year ending 


June 30, 1919, the expenditures of public 
institutions and agencies amounted to $33, 
936,205.88. The expenditures of privately 
supported and endowed institutions for the 
same year, amount to $58,100,530.98. This 
makes a total, for public and private charities 
and corrections of $92,036,736.86. A con- 
servative estimate of the increase for the year 
(1920-1921) brings this figure approximately 
to one-hundred and twenty-five millions. 
These figures take on an eloquent significance 
if we compare them to the comparatively small 
amounts spent upon education, conservation 
of health and other constructive efforts. Thus, 
while the City of New York spent $7.35 per 
capita on public education in the year 1918, 
it spent on public charities no less than $2.66. 
Add to this last figure an even larger amount 
dispensed by private agencies, and we may de- 
rive some definite sense of the heavy burden of 
dependency, pauperism and delinquency upon 
the normal and healthy sections of the com- 

Statistics now available also inform us that 
more than a million dollars are spent annually 
to support the public and private institutions 


in the state of New York for the segregation 
of the feeble-minded and the epileptic. A 
million and a half is spent for the up-keep of 
state prisons, those homes of the "defective 
delinquent." Insanity, which, we should 
remember, is to a great extent hereditary, 
annually drains from the state treasury no 
less than $11,985,695.55, and from private 
sources and endowments another twenty mil- 
lions. When we learn further that the total 
number of inmates in public and private 
institutions in the State of New York in 
alms-houses, reformatories, schools for the 
blind, deaf and mute, in insane asylums, in 
homes for the feeble-minded and epileptic 
amounts practically to less than sixty-five 
thousand, an insignificant number compared 
to the total population, our eyes should be 
opened to the terrific cost to the community of 
this dead weight of human waste. 

The United States Public Health Survey 
of the State of Oregon, recently published, 
shows that even a young community, rich in 
natural resources, and unusually progressive 
in legislative measures, is no less subject to this 
burden. Out of a total population of 783,000 


it is estimated that more than 75,000 men, 
women and children are dependents, feeble- 
minded, or delinquents. Thus about 10 per 
cent, of the population is a constant drain 
on the finances, health, and future of that com- 
munity. These figures represent a more 
definite and precise survey than the rough one 
indicated by the statistics of charities and 
correction for the State of New York. The 
figures yielded by this Oregon survey are also 
considerably lower than the average shown by 
the draft examination, a fact which indicates 
that they are not higher than might be obtained 
from other States. 

Organized charity is thus confronted with 
the problem of feeble-mindedness and mental 
defect. But just as the State has so far neg- 
lected the problem of mental defect until this 
takes the form of criminal delinquency, so the 
tendency of our philanthropic and charitable 
agencies has been to pay no attention to the 
problem until it has expressed itself in terms 
of pauperism and delinquency. Such "benev- 
olence" is not merely ineffectual; it is 
positively injurious to the community and the 
future of the race, 


But there is a special type of philanthropy 
or benevolence, now widely advertised and ad- 
vocated, both as a federal program and as 
worthy of private endowment, which strikes 
me as being more insidiously injurious than 
any other. This concerns itself directly with 
the function of maternity, and aims to supply 
gratis medical and nursing facilities to slum 
mothers. Such women are to be visited by 
nurses and to receive instruction in the "hy- 
giene of pregnancy"; to be guided in making 
arrangements for confinements; to be invited 
to come to the doctor's clinics for examination 
and supervision. They are, we are informed, 
to "receive adequate care during pregnancy, 
at confinement, and for one month afterward." 
Thus are mothers and babies to be saved. 
"Childbearing is to be made safe." The work 
of the maternity centers in the various Ameri- 
can cities in which they have already been es- 
tablished and in which they are supported by 
private contributions and endowment, it is 
hardly necessary to point out, is carried on 
among the poor and more docile sections of 
the city, among mothers least able, through 
poverty and ignorance, to afford the care and 


attention necessary for successful maternity. 
Now, as the findings of Tredgold and Karl 
Pearson and the British Eugenists so conclu- 
sively show, and as the infant mortality reports 
so thoroughly substantiate, a high rate of fe- 
cundity is always associated with the direst 
poverty, irresponsibility, mental defect, feeble- 
mindedness, and other transmissible taints. 
The effect of maternity endowments and 
maternity centers supported by private phil- 
anthropy would have, perhaps already have 
had, exactly the most dysgenic tendency. 
The new government program would facil- 
itate the function of maternity among the very 
classes in which the absolute necessity is to 
discourage it. 

Such "benevolence" is not merely superficial 
and near-sighted. It conceals a stupid cruelty, <* 
because it is not courageous enough to face 
unpleasant facts. Aside from the question of 
the unfitness of many women to become 
mothers, aside from the very definite deteri- 
oration in the human stock that such programs 
would inevitably hasten, we may question its 
value even to the normal though unfortunate 
mother. For it is never the intention of such 


philanthropy to give the poor over-burdened 
and often undernourished mother of the slum 
the opportunity to make the choice herself, to 
decide whether she wishes time after to time 
to bring children into the world. It merely 
says "Increase and multiply: We are prepared 
to help you do this." Whereas the great 
majority of mothers realize the grave responsi- 
bility they face in keeping alive and rearing 
the children they have already brought into the 
world, the maternity center would teach them 
how to have more. The poor woman is taught 
how to have her seventh child, when what she 
wants to know is how to avoid bringing into the 
world her eighth. 

Such philanthropy, as Dean Inge has so 
unanswerably pointed out, is kind only to be 
cruel, and unwittingly promotes precisely the 
results most deprecated. It encourages the 
healthier and more normal sections of the world 
to shoulder the burden of unthinking and in- 
discriminate fecundity of others; which brings 
with it, as I think the reader must agree, a 
dead weight of human waste. Instead of de- 
creasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks 
that are most detrimental to the future of the 


race and the world, it tends to render them to 
a menacing degree dominant. 

On the other hand, the program is an in- 
dication of a suddenly awakened public 
recognition of the shocking conditions sur- 
rounding pregnancy, maternity, and infant 
welfare prevailing at the very heart of our 
boasted civilization. So terrible, so unbeliev- 
able, are these conditions of child-bearing, de- 
graded far below the level of primitive and 
barbarian tribes, nay, even below the plane of 
brutes, that many high-minded people, con- 
fronted with such revolting and disgraceful 
facts, lose that calmness of vision and imparti- 
ality of judgment so necessary in any serious 
consideration of this vital problem. Their 
"hearts" are touched; they become hyster- 
ical; they demand immediate action; and 
enthusiastically and generously they support 
the first superficial program that is ad- 
vanced. Immediate action may sometimes 
be worse than no action at all. The "warm 
heart" needs the balance of the cool head. 
Much harm has been done in the world by 
those too-good-hearted folk who have always 
demanded that "something be done at once," 


They do not stop to consider that the very 
first thing to be done is to subject the whole 
situation to the deepest and most rigorous 
thinking. As the late Walter Bagehot wrote 
in a significant but too often forgotten passage : 
"The most melancholy of human reflections, 
rperhaps, is that on the whole it is a question 
whether the benevolence of mankind does 
more good or harm. Great good, no doubt, 
philanthropy does, but then it also does great 
evil. It augments so much vice, it multiplies 
so much suffering, it brings to life such great 
populations to suffer and to be vicious, that it 
is open to argument whether it be or be not an 
evil to the world, and this is entirely because 
excellent people fancy they can do much by 
rapid action, and that they will most benefit 
the world when they most relieve their own feel- 
ings ; that as soon as an evil is seen, 'something' 
ought to be done to stay and prevent it. One 
may incline to hope that the balance of good 
over evil is in favor of benevolence; one can 
hardly bear to think that it is not so ; but any- 
how it is certain that there is a most heavy 
debt of evil, and that this burden might almost 
all have been spared us if philanthropists as 


well as others had not inherited from their 
barbarous forefathers a wild passion for instant 

It is customary, I believe, to defend phil- 
anthropy and charity upon the basis of the 
sanctity of human life. Yet recent events in 
the world reveal a curious contradiction in 
this respect. Human life is held sacred, as a 
general Christian principle, until war is de- 
clared, when humanity indulges in a universal 
debauch of bloodshed and barbarism, invent- 
ing poison gases and every type of diabolic 
suggestion to facilitate killing and starvation. 
Blockades are enforced to weaken and starve 
civilian populations women and children. 
This accomplished, the pendulum of mob 
passion swings back to the opposite extreme, 
and the compensatory emotions express them- 
selves in hysterical fashion. Philanthropy and 
charity are then unleashed. We begin to 
hold human life sacred again. We try to save 
the lives of the people we formerly sought to 
weaken by devastation, disease and starvation. 
We indulge in "drives," in campaigns of relief, 
in a general orgy of international charity. 

We are thus witnessing to-day the inaugur- 


ation of a vast system of international charity. 
As in our more limited communities and 
cities, where self-sustaining and self-reliant 
sections of the population are forced to 
shoulder the burden of the reckless and ir- 
responsible, so in the great world community 
the more prosperous and incidentally less 
populous nations are asked to relieve and 
succor those countries which are either the 
victims of the wide-spread havoc of war, of 
militaristic statesmanship, or of the age-long 
tradition of reckless propagation and its con- 
sequent over-population. 

The people of the United States have re- 
cently been called upon to exercise their tra- 
ditional generosity not merely to aid the 
European Relief Council in its efforts to keep 
alive three million, five hundred thousand 
starving children in Central Europe, but in ad- 
dition to contribute to that enormous fund to 
save the thirty million Chinese who find them- 
selves at the verge of starvation, owing to one 
of those recurrent famines which strike often 
at that densely populated and inert country, 
where procreative recklessness is encouraged as 
a matter of duty. The results of this interna- 


tional charity have not justified the effort nor 
repaid the generosity to which it appealed. 
In the first place, no effort was made to pre- 
vent the recurrence of the disaster; in the sec- 
ond place, philanthropy of this type attempts 
to sweep back the tide of miseries created by 
unrestricted propagation, with the feeble broom 
of sentiment. As one of the most observant 
and impartial of authorities on the Far East, 
J. O. P. Bland, has pointed out: "So long as 
China maintains a birth-rate that is estimated 
at fifty-five per thousand or more, the only 
possible alternative to these visitations would 
be emigration and this would have to be on 
such a scale as would speedily overrun and 
overfill the habitable globe. Neither human- 
itarian schemes, international charities nor 
philanthropies can prevent widespread dis- 
aster to a people which habitually breeds up to 
and beyond the maximum limits of its food 
supply." Upon this point, it is interesting 
to add, Mr. Frank A. Vanderlip has likewise 
pointed out the inefficacy and misdirection of 
this type of international charity. 1 

Mr. Bland further points out: "The prob- 

J Birth Control Review. Vol. V. No. 4. p. 7. 


lem presented is one with which neither hu- 
manitarian nor religious zeal can ever cope, so 
long as we fail to recognize and attack the fun- 
damental cause of these calamities. As a 
matter of sober fact, the benevolent activities 
of our missionary societies to reduce the death- 
rate by the prevention of infanticide and the 
checking of disease, actually serve in the end 
to aggravate the pressure of population upon 
its food-supply and to increase the severity 
of the inevitably resultant catastrophe. What 
is needed for the prevention, or, at least, the 
mitigation of these scourges, is an organized 
educational propaganda, directed first against 
polygamy and the marriage of minors and the 
unfit, and, next, toward such a limitation of the 
birth-rate as shall approximate the standard of 
civilized countries. But so long as Bishops 
and well meaning philanthropists in England 
and America continue to praise and encourage 
'the glorious fertility of the East' there can be 
but little hope of minimizing the penalities of 
the ruthless struggle for existence in China, 
and Nature's law will therefore continue to 
work out its own pitiless solution, weeding out 
every year millions of predestined weaklings." 


This rapid survey is enough, I hope, to indi- 
cate the manifold inadequacies inherent in pre- 
sent policies of philanthropy and charity. 
The most serious charge that can be brought 
against modern "benevolence" is that it en- 
courages the perpetuation of defectives, delin- 
quents and dependents. These are the most 
dangerous elements in the world community, 
the most devastating curse on human progress 
and expression. Philanthropy is a gesture 
characteristic of modern business lavishing 
upon the unfit the profits extorted from the 
community at large. Looked at impartially, 
this compensatory generosity is in its final ef- 
fect probably more dangerous, more dysgenic, 
more blighting than the initial practice of 
profiteering and the social injustice which 
makes some too rich and others too poor. 



WAR has thrust upon us a new interna- 
tionalism. To-day the world is united by 
starvation, disease and misery. We are en- 
joying the ironic internationalism of hatred. 
The victors are forced to shoulder the burden 
of the vanquished. International philan- 
thropies and charities are organized. The 
great flux of immigration and emigration 
has recommenced. Prosperity is a myth; and 
the rich are called upon to support huge phil- 
anthropies, in the futile attempt to sweep back 
the tide of famine and misery. In the face of 
this new internationalism, this tangled unity 
of the world, all proposed political and eco- 
nomic programs reveal a woeful common bank- 
ruptcy. They are fragmentary and super- 
ficial. None of them go to the root of this 
unprecedented world problem. Politicians 
offer political solutions, like the League of 



Nations or the limitation of navies. Militar- 
ists offer new schemes of competitive arma- 
ment. Marxians offer the Third Internation- 
ale and industrial revolution. Sentimentalists 
offer charity and philanthropy. Coordina- 
tion or correlation is lacking. And matters go 
steadily from bad to worse. 

The first essential in the solution of any prob- 
lem is the recognition and statement of the fac- 
tors involved. Now in this complex problem 
which to-day confronts us, no attempt has been 
made to state the primary factors. The states- 
man believes they are all political. Militar- 
ists believe they are all military and naval. 
Economists, including under the term the va- 
rious schools for Socialists, believe they are in- 
dustrial and financial. Churchmen look upon 
them as religious and ethical. What is lack- 
ing is the recognition of that fundamental fac- 
tor which reflects and coordinates these es- 
sential but incomplete phases of the problem, 
the factor of reproduction. For in all prob- 
lems affecting the welfare of a biological spe- 
cies, and particularly in all problems of human 
welfare, two fundamental forces work against 
each other. There is hunger as the driving 


force of all our economic, industrial and com- 
mercial organizations; and there is the repro- 
ductive impulse in continual conflict with our 
economic, political settlements, race adjust- 
ments and the like. Official moralists, states- 
men, politicians, philanthropists and econo- 
mists display an astounding disregard of this 
second disorganizing factor. They treat the 
world of men as if it were purely a hunger 
world instead of a hunger-sex world. Yet 
there is no phase of human society, no 
question of politics, economics, or industry that 
is not tied up in almost equal measure with the 
expression of both of these primordial impulses. 
You cannot sweep back overpowering dynamic 
instincts by catchwords. You can neglect and 
thwart sex only at your peril. You cannot 
solve the problem of hunger and ignore 
the problem of sex. They are bound up to- 

While the gravest attention is paid to the 
problem of hunger and food, that of sex is 
neglected. Politicians and social scientists are 
ready and willing to speak of such things as 
a "high birth rate," infant mortality, the dan- 
gers of immigration or over-population. But 


with few exceptions they cannot bring them- 
selves to speak of Birth Control. Until they 
shall have broken through the traditional in- 
hibitions concerning the discussion of sexual 
matters, until they recognize the force of the 
sexual instinct, and until they recognize Birth 
Control as the pivotal factor in the problem 
confronting the world to-day, our statesmen 
must continue to work in the dark. Political 
palliatives will be mocked by actuality. Eco- 
nomic nostrums are blown willy-nilly in the 
unending battle of human instincts. 

A brief survey of the past three or four cen- 
turies of Western civilization suggests the ur- 
gent need of a new science to help humanity in 
the struggle with the vast problem of to-day's 
disorder and danger. That problem, as we 
envisage it, is fundamentally a sexual problem. 
Ethical, political, and economic avenues of 
approach are insufficient. We must create a 
new instrument, a new technique to make any 
adequate solution possible. 

The history of the industrial revolution and 
the dominance of all-conquering machinery in 
Western civilization show the inadequacy of 
political and economic measures to meet the 


terrific rise in population. The advent of the 
factory system, due especially to the develop- 
ment of machinery at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, upset all the grandiloquent 
theories of the previous era. To meet the new 
situation created by the industrial revolution 
arose the new science of "political economy," 
or economics. Old political methods proved 
inadequate to keep pace with the problem pre- 
sented by the rapid rise of the new machine 
and industrial power. The machine era very 
shortly and decisively exploded the simple be- 
lief that "all men are born free and equal." 
Political power was superseded by economic 
and industrial power. To sustain their su- 
premacy in the political field, governments and 
politicians allied themselves to the new indus- 
trial oligarchy. Old political theories and 
practices were totally inadequate to control 
the new situation or to meet the complex 
problems that grew out of it. 

Just as the eighteenth century saw the rise 
and proliferation of political theories, the nine- 
teenth witnessed the creation and development 
of the science of economics, which aimed to 
perfect an instrument for the study and an- 


alysis of an industrial society, and to offer a 
technique for the solution of the multifold 
problems it presented. But at the present mo- 
ment, as the outcome of the machine era and 
competitive populations, the world has been 
thrown into a new situation, the solution of 
which is impossible solely by political or eco- 
nomic weapons. 

The industrial revolution and the develop- 
ment of machinery in Europe and America 
called into being a new type of working-class. 
Machines were at first termed "labor-saving 
devices." In reality, as we now know, 
mechanical inventions and discoveries created 
an unprecedented and increasingly enormous 
demand for "labor." The omnipresent and 
still existing scandal of child labor is ample 
evidence of this. Machine production in its 
opening phases, demanded large, concentrated 
and exploitable populations. Large produc- 
tion and the huge development of international 
trade through improved methods of transport, 
made possible the maintenance upon a low 
level of existence of these rapidly increasing 
proletarian populations. With the rise and 
spread throughout Europe and America of 


machine production, it is now possible to cor- 
relate the expansion of the "proletariat." The 
working-classes bred almost automatically to 
meet the demand for machine-serving "hands." 

The rise in population, the multiplication 
of proletarian populations as a first result of 
mechanical industry, the appearance of great 
centers of population, the so-called urban drift, 
and the evils of overcrowding still remain in- 
sufficiently studied and stated. It is a sig- 
nificant though neglected fact that when, after 
long agitation in Great Britain, child labor 
was finally forbidden by law, the supply of 
children dropped appreciably. No longer of 
economic value in the factory, children were 
evidently a drug in the "home." Yet it is 
doubly significant that from this moment 
British labor began the long unending task of 
self-organization. 1 

Nineteenth century economics had no method 

lit may be well to note, in this connection, that the decline 
in the birth rate among the more intelligent classes of British 
labor followed upon the famous Bradlaugh-Besant trial of 
1878, the outcome of the attempt of these two courageous 
Birth Control pioneers to circulate among the workers the 
work of an American physician, Dr. Knowlton's "The Fruits 
of Philosophy," advocating Birth Control, and the widespread 
publicity resulting from this trial. 


of studying the interrelation of the biological 
factors with the industrial. Overcrowding, 
overwork, the progressive destruction of re- 
sponsibility by the machine discipline, as is 
now perfectly obvious, had the most disas- 
trous consequences upon human character and 
human habits. 2 Paternalistic philanthropies 
and sentimental charities, which sprang up like 
mushrooms, only tended to increase the evils 
of indiscriminate breeding. From the physio- 
logical and psychological point of view, the 
factory system has been nothing less than 

Dr. Austin Freeman has recently pointed 
out 3 some of the physiological, psychological, 
and racial effects of machinery upon the pro- 
letariat, the breeders of the world. Speak- 
ing for Great Britain, Dr. Freeman suggests 
that the omnipresence of machinery tends to- 
ward the production of large but inferior 
populations. Evidences of biological and ra- 
cial degeneracy are apparent to this observer. 
"Compared with the African negro," he 

2 Cf. The Creative Impulse in Industry, by Helen Marot. 
The Instinct of Workmanship, by Thorstein Veblen. 
s Social Decay and Regeneration. By R. Austin Freeman. 
London 1921. 


writes, "the British sub-man is in several re- 
spects markedly inferior. He tends to be 
dull ; he is usually quite helpless and unhandy ; 
he has, as a rule, no skill or knowledge of 
handicraft, or indeed knowledge of any 
kind. . . . Over-population is a phenomenon 
connected with the survival of the unfit, and 
it is mechanism which has created conditions 
favorable to the survival of the unfit and the 
elimination of the fit." The whole indictment 
against machinery is summarized by Dr. Free- 
man: "Mechanism by its reactions on man 
and his environment is antagonistic to hu- 
man welfare. It has destroyed industry 
and replaced it by mere labor ; it has degraded 
and vulgarized the works of man; it has de- 
stroyed social unity and replaced it ; by social 
disintegration and class antagonism to an ex- 
tent which directly threatens civilization; it 
has injuriously affected the structural type of 
society by developing its organization at the 
expense of the individual; it has endowed the 
inferior man with political power which he 
employs to the common disadvantage by creat- 
ing politicial institutions of a socially destruc- 


tive type; and finally by its reactions on the 
activities of war it constitutes an agent for the 
wholesale physical destruction of man and his 
works and the extinction of human culture." 

It is not necessary to be in absolute agree- 
ment with this diagnostician to realize the 
menace of machinery, which tends to emphasize 
quantity and mere number at the expense of 
quality and individuality. One thing is cer- 
tain. If machinery is detrimental to biological 
fitness, the machine must be destroyed, as it 
was in Samuel Butler's "Erewhon." But 
perhaps there is another way of mastering this 

Altruism, humanitarianism and philan- 
thropy have aided and abetted machinery in 
the destruction of responsibility and self- 
reliance among the least desirable elements of 
the proletariat. In contrast with the previous 
epoch of discovery of the New World, of ex- 
ploration and colonization, when a centifugal 
influence was at work upon the populations 
of Europe, the advent of machinery has 
brought with it a counteracting centripetal 
effect. The result has been the accumulation 


of large urban populations, the increase of 
irresponsibility, and ever-widening margin of 
biological waste. 

Just as eighteenth century politics and po- 
litical theories were unable to keep pace with 
the economic and capitalistic aggressions of 
the nineteenth century, so also we find, if we 
look closely enough, that nineteenth century 
economics is inadequate to lead the world out 
of the catastrophic situation into which it has 
been thrown by the debacle of the World War. 
Economists are coming to recognize that the 
purely economic interpretation of contempo- 
rary events is insufficient. Too long, as one of 
them has stated, orthodox economists have 
overlooked the important fact that "human 
life is dynamic, that change, movement, 
evolution, are its basic characteristics; that 
self-expression, and therefore freedom of choice 
and movement, are prerequisites to a satisfy- 
^ng human state". 4 

Economists themselves are breaking with the 
pld "dismal science" of the Manchester school, 
with its sterile study of "supply and demand," 

'* Carlton H. Parker : The Casual Laborer and other essays : 
p. 30. 


of prices and exchange, of wealth and lahor. 
Like the Chicago Vice Commission, nineteenth- 
century economists (many of whom still sur- 
vive into our own day) considered sex merely 
as something to be legislated out of existence. 
They had the idea that wealth consisted solely 
of material things used to promote the welfare 
of certain human beings. Their idea of cap- 
ital was somewhat confused. They ap- 
parently decided that capital was merely that 
part of capital used to produce profit. Prices, 
exchanges, commercial statistics, and financial 
operations comprised the subject matter of 
these older economists. It would have been 
considered "unscientific" to take into account 
the human factors involved. They might 
study the wear-and-tear and depreciation of 
machinery: but the depreciation or destruc- 
tion of the human race did not concern them. 
Under "wealth" they never included the vast, 
wasted treasury of human life and human ex- 

Economists to-day are awake to the impera- 
tive duty of dealing with the whole of human 
nature, with the relation of men, women, 
and children to their environment physical 


and psychic as well as social; of dealing with 
all those factors which contribute to human 
sustenance, happiness and welfare. The 
economist, at length, investigates human mo- 
tives. Economics outgrows the outworn meta- 
physical preconceptions of nineteenth century 
theory. To-day we witness the creation of a 
new "welfare" or social economics, jbased on 
a fuller and more complete knowledge of the 
human race, upon a recognition of sex as well 
as of hunger; in brief, of physiological instincts 
and psychological demands. The newer 
economists are beginning to recognize that 
their science heretofore failed to take into 
account the most vital factors in modern in- 
dustry it failed to foresee the inevitable con- 
sequences of compulsory motherhood; the 
catastrophic effects of child labor upon racial 
health; the overwhelming importance of 
national vitality and well-being; the inter- 
national ramifications of the population prob- 
lem; the relation of indiscriminate breeding 
to feeble-mindedness, and industrial ineffi- 
ciency. It speculated too little or not at all on 
human motives. Human nature riots through 
the traditional economic structure, as Carl- 


ton Parker pointed out, with ridicule and 
destruction ; the old-fashioned economist looked 
on helpless and aghast. 

Inevitably we are driven to the conclusion 
that the exclusively economic interpretation of 
contemporary history is inadequate to meet the 
present situation. In his suggestive book, 
"The Acquisitive Society," R. H. Tawney, 
arrives at the conclusion that "obsession by 
economic issues is as local and transitory as 
it is repulsive and disturbing. To future gen- 
erations it will appear as pitiable as the obses- 
sion of the seventeenth century by religious 
quarrels appears to-day; indeed, it is less ra- 
tional, since the object with which it is con- 
cerned is less important. And it is a poison 
which inflames every wound and turns each 
trivial scratch into a malignant ulcer. So- 
ciety will not solve the particular problems 
of industry until that poison is expelled, and 
it has learned to see industry in its proper per- 
spective. // it is to do that it must rearrange 
the scale of values. It must regard economic 
interests as one element in life, not as the whole 
of life. . . ." 5 

sR. H. Tawney. The Acquisitive Society, p. 184. 


In neglecting or minimizing the great factor 
of sex in human society, the Marxian doctrine 
reveals itself as no stronger than orthodox 
economics in guiding our way to a sound civil- 
ization. It works within the same intellectual 
limitations. Much as we are indebted to the 
Marxians for pointing out the injustice of 
modern industrialism, we should never close 
our eyes to the obvious limitations of their own 
"economic interpretation of history." While 
we must recognize the great historical value 
of Marx, it is now evident that his vision of 
the "class struggle," of the bitter irreconcil- 
able warfare between the capitalist and work- 
ing classes was based not upon historical anal- 
ysis, but upon an unconscious dramatization of 
a superficial aspect of capitalistic regime. 

In emphasizing the conflict between the 
classes, Marx failed to recognize the deeper 
unity of the proletariat and the capitalist. 
Nineteenth century capitalism had in reality 
engendered and cultivated, the very type of 
working class best suited to its own purpose 
an inert, docile, irresponsible and submissive 
class, progressively incapable of effective and 
aggressive organization. Like the economists 


of the Manchester school, Marx failed to rec- 
ognize the interplay of human instincts in 
the world of industry. All the virtues were 
embodied in the beloved proletariat; all the 
villainies in the capitalists. The greatest asset 
of the capitalism of that age was, as a matter 
of fact, the uncontrolled breeding among the 
laboring classes. The intelligent and self- 
conscious section of the workers was forced to 
bear the burden of the unemployed and the 

Marx was fully aware of the consequences 
of this condition of things, but shut his eyes 
tightly to the cause. He pointed out that 
capitalistic power was dependent upon "the 
reserve army of labor," surplus labor, and a 
wide margin of unemployment. He prac- 
tically admitted that over-population was the 
inevitable soil of predatory capitalism. But 
he disregarded the most obvious consequence 
of that admission. It was all very dramatic 
and grandiloquent to tell the workingmen of 
the world to unite, that they had "nothing 
but their chains to lose and the world to gain." 
Cohesion of any sort, united and voluntary 
organization, as events have proved, is im- 


possible in populations bereft of intelligence, 
self-discipline and even the material necessities 
of life, and cheated by their desires and ignor- 
ance into unrestrained and uncontrolled fer- 

In pointing out the limitations and fallacies 
of the orthodox Marxian opinion, my purpose 
is not to depreciate the efforts of the Socialists 
aiming to create a new society, but rather to 
emphasize what seems to me the greatest and 
most neglected truth of our day: Unless 
sexual science is incorporated as an integral 
part of world-statesmanship and the pivotal 
importance of Birth Control is recognized in 
any program of reconstruction, all efforts to 
create a new world and a new civilization are 
foredoomed to failure. 

We can hope for no advance until we attain 
a new conception of sex, not as a merely propa- 
gative act, not merely as a biological necessity 
for the perpetuation of the race, but as 
a psychic and spiritual avenue of expression. 
It is the limited, inhibited conception of sex 
that vitiates so much of the thought and idea- 
tion of the Eugenists. 


Like most of our social idealists, statesmen, 
politicians and economists, some of the 
Eugenists suffer intellectually from a re- 
stricted and inhibited understanding of the 
function of sex. This limited understanding, 
this narrowness of vision, which gives rise to 
most of the misconceptions and condemnations 
of the doctrine of Birth Control, is responsible 
for the failure of politicians and legislators to 
enact practical statutes or to remove traditional 
obscenities from the law books. The most 
encouraging sign at present is the recognition 
by modern psychology of the central import- 
ance of the sexual instinct in human society, 
and the rapid spread of this new concept 
among the more enlightened sections of the 
civilized communities. The new conception 
of sex has been well stated by one to whom the 
debt of contemporary civilization is well-nigh 
immeasurable. "Sexual activity," Havelock 
Ellis has written, "is not merely a baldly prop- 
agative act, nor, when propagation is put 
aside, is it merely the relief of distended vessels. 
It is something more even than the foundation 
of great social institutions. It is the function 


by which all the finer activities of the organ- 
ism, physical and psychic, may be developed 
and satisfied." 6 

No less than seventy years ago, a profound 
but neglected thinker, George Drysdale, em- 
phasized the necessity of a thorough under- 
standing of man's sexual nature in approach- 
ing economic, political and social problems. 
"Before we can undertake the calm and 
impartial investigation of any social problem, 
we must first of all free ourselves from all 
those sexual prejudices which are so vehement 
and violent and which so completely distort 
our vision of the external world. Society as 
a whole has yet to fight its way through an 
almost impenetrable forest of sexual taboos." 
Drysdale's words have lost none of their truth 
even to-day: "There are few things from 
which humanity has suffered more than the 
degraded and irreverent feelings of mystery 
and shame that have been attached to the 
genital and excretory organs. The former 
have been regarded, like their corresponding 
mental passions, as something of a lower and 
baser nature, tending to degrade and carnalize 

e Medical Review of Reviews: Vol. XXVI, p. 116. 


man by their physical appetites. But we can- 
not take a debasing view of any part of our 
humanity without becoming degraded in our 
whole being." 7 

Drysdale moreover clearly recognized the 
social crime of entrusting to sexual barbarians 
the duty of legislating and enforcing laws 
detrimental to the welfare of all future gener- 
ations. "They trust blindly to authority for 
the rules they blindly lay down," he wrote, 
"perfectly unaware of the awful and com- 
plicated nature of the subject they are dealing 
with so confidently and of the horrible evils 
their unconsidered statements are attended 
with. They themselves break through the 
most fundamentally important laws daily in 
utter unconsciousness of the misery they are 
causing to their fellows. . . ." 

Psychologists to-day courageously emphasize 
the integral relationship of the expression of 
the sexual instinct with every phase of human 
activity. Until we recognize this central fact, 
we cannot understand the implications and the 
sinister significance of superficial attempts to 
apply rosewater remedies to social evils, by 

i The Elements of Social Science: London, 1854. 


the enactment of restrictive and superficial 
legislation, by wholesale philanthropies and 
charities, by publicly burying our heads in 
the sands of sentimentality. Self-appointed 
censors, grossly immoral "moralists," make- 
shift legislators, all face a heavy responsibility 
for the miseries, diseases, and social evils they 
perpetuate or intensify by enforcing the 
primitive taboos of aboriginal customs, tra- 
ditions, and outworn laws, which at every step 
hinder the education of the people in the sci- 
entific knowledge of their sexual nature. 
Puritanic and academic taboo of sex in 
education and religion is as disastrous to human 
welfare as prostitution or the venereal scourges. 
"We are compelled squarely to face the dis- 
torting influences of biologically aborted re- 
formers as well as the wastefulness of 
seducers," Dr. Edward A. Kempf recently 
declared. "Man arose from the ape and in- 
herited his passions, which he can only refine 
but dare not attempt to castrate unless he 
would destroy the fountains of energy that 
maintain civilization and make life worth living 
and the world worth beautifying. . . . We do 
not have a problem that is to be solved by 


making repressive laws and executing them. 
Nothing will be more disastrous. Society must 
make life worth the living and the refining for 
the individual by conditioning him to love and 
to seek the love-object in a manner that reflects 
a constructive effect upon his fellow-men and 
by giving him suitable opportunities. The 
virility of the automatic apparatus is destroyed 
by excessive gormandizing or hunger, by ex- 
cessive wealth or poverty, by excessive work 
or idleness, by sexual abuse or intolerant prud- 
ishness. The noblest and most difficult art of 
all is the raising of human thoroughbreds." 8 

8 Proceedings of the International Conference of Women Phy- 
sicians. Vol. IV, pp. 66-67. New York, 1920. 



MARXIAN Socialism, which seeks to solve 
the complex problem of human misery by eco- 
nomic and proletarian revolution, has mani- 
fested a new vitality. Every shade of Social- 
istic thought and philosophy acknowledges its 
indebtedness to the vision of Karl Marx and 
his conception of the class struggle. Yet the 
relation of Marxian Socialism to the philoso- 
phy of Birth Control, especially in the minds 
of most Socialists, remains hazy and confused. 
No thorough understanding of Birth Control, 
its aims and purposes, is possible until this con- 
fusion has been cleared away, and we come to 
a realization that Birth Control is not merely 
independent of, but even antagonistic to the 
Marxian dogma. In recent years many 
Socialists have embraced the doctrine of Birth 
Control, and have generously promised us that 
"under Socialism" voluntary motherhood will 



be adopted and popularized as part of a general 
educational system. We might more logically 
reply that no Socialism will ever be possible 
until the problem of responsible parenthood 
has been solved. 

Many Socialists to-day remain ignorant of 
the inherent conflict between the idea of Birth 
Control and the philosophy of Marx. The 
earlier Marxians, including Karl Marx him- 
self, expressed the bitterest antagonism to 
Malthusian and neo-Malthusian theories. A 
remarkable feature of early Marxian propa- 
ganda has been the almost complete unanimity 
with which the implications of the Malthusian 
doctrine have been derided, denounced and re- 
pudiated. Any defense of the so-called "law 
of population" was enough to stamp one, in 
the eyes of the orthodox Marxians, as a "tool 
of the capitalistic class," seeking to dampen 
the ardor of those who expressed the belief that 
men might create a better world for themselves. 
Malthus, they claimed, was actuated by self- 
ish class motives. He was not merely a hide- 
bound aristocrat, but a pessimist who was try- 
ing to kill all hope of human progress. By 
Marx, Engels, Bebel, Karl Kautsky, and all 


the celebrated leaders and interpreters of 
Marx's great "Bible of the working class," 
down to the martyred Rosa Luxemburg and 
Karl Lidbknecht, Birth Control has been 
looked upon as a subtle, Machiavellian sophis- 
try created for the purpose of placing the 
blame for human misery elsewhere than 
at the door of the capitalist class. Upon 
this point the orthodox Marxian mind has 
been universally and sternly uncompromi- 

Marxian vituperation of Malthus and his 
followers is illuminating. It reveals not the 
weakness of the thinker attacked, but of the 
aggressor. This is nowhere more evident 
than in Marx's "Capital" itself. In that 
monumental effort, it is impossible to discover 
any adequate refutation or even calm dis- 
cussion of the dangers of irresponsible parent- 
hood and reckless breeding, any suspicion that 
this recklessness and irresponsibility is even 
remotely related to the miseries of the prole- 
tariat. Poor Malthus is there relegated to the 
humble level of a footnote. "If the reader 
reminds me of Malthus, whose essay on 
Population appeared in 1798," Marx remarks 


somewhat tartly, "I remind him that this work 
in its first form is nothing more than a school- 
boyish, superficial plagiary of De Foe, Sir 
James Steuart, Townsend, Franklin, Wallace, 
etc., and does not contain a single sentence 
thought out by himself. The great sensation 
this pamphlet caused was due solely to party 
interest. The French Revolution had passion- 
ate defenders in the United Kingdom. . . . 
'The Principles of Population' was quoted with 
jubilance by the English oligarchy as the great 
destroyer of all hankerings after human 
development." l 

The only attempt that Marx makes here 
toward answering the theory of Malthus is 
to declare that most of the population theory 
teachers were merely Protestant parsons. 
"Parson Wallace, Parson Townsend, Par- 
son Malthus and his pupil the Arch-Parson 
Thomas Chalmers, to say nothing of the lesser 
reverend scribblers in this line." The great 
pioneer of "scientific" Socialism then proceeds 
to berate parsons as philosophers and econ- 
omists, using this method of escape from the 
very pertinent question of surplus population 

iMarx: "Capital." Vol. I, p. 67$, 


and surplus proletariat in its relation to labor 
organization and unemployment. It is true 
that elsewhere 2 he goes so far as to admit that 
"even Malthus recognized over-population as 
a necessity of modern industry, though, after 
his narrow fashion, he explains it by the ab- 
solute over-growth of the laboring population, 
not by their becoming relatively super- 
numerary." A few pages later, however, 
Marx comes back again to the question of 
over-population, failing to realize that it is to 
the capitalists' advantage that the working 
classes are unceasingly prolific. "The folly 
is now patent," writes the unsuspecting Marx, 
"of the economic wisdom that preaches to the 
laborers the accommodation of their numbers 
to the requirements of capital. The mechan- 
ism of capitalist production and accumulation 
constantly affects this adjustment. The first 
work of this adaptation is the creation of a 
relatively surplus population or industrial 
reserve army. Its last work is the misery of 
constantly extending strata of the army of 
labor, and the dead weight of pauperism." 
A little later he ventures again in the direction 

2 Op. cit. pp, 695, 707, 709. 


of Malthusianism so far as to admit that "the 
accumulation of wealth at one pole is ... at 
the same time the accumulation of misery, 
agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality 
and mental degradation at the opposite pole." 
Nevertheless, there is no indication that Marx 
permitted himself to see that the proletariat 
accommodates its numbers to the "require- 
ments of capital" precisely by breeding a large, 
docile, submissive and easily exploitable pop- 

Had the purpose of Marx been impartial 
and scientific, this trifling difference might 
easily have been overcome and the dangers of 
reckless breeding insisted upon. But beneath 
all this wordy pretension and economic jargon, 
we detect another aim. That is the uncon- 
scious dramatization of human society into the 
"class conflict." Nothing was overlooked that 
might sharpen and accentuate this "conflict." 
Marx depicted a great melodramatic conflict, 
in which all the virtues were embodied in the 
proletariat and all the villainies in the capital- 
ist. In the end, as always in such dramas, 
virtue was to be rewarded and villainy pun- 
ished. The working class was the temporary 


victim of a subtle but thorough conspiracy of 
tyranny and repression. Capitalists, intellect- 
uals and the bourgeoisie were all "in on" this 
diabolic conspiracy, all thoroughly familiar 
with the plot, which Marx was so sure he had 
uncovered. In the last act was to occur that 
catastrophic revolution, with the final trans- 
formation scene of the Socialist millenium. 
Presented in "scientific" phraseology, with all 
the authority of economic terms, "Capital" 
appeared at the psychological moment. The 
heaven of the traditional theology had been 
shattered by Darwinian science, and here, 
dressed up in all the authority of the new 
science, appeared a new theology, the promise 
of a new heaven, an earthly paradise, with an 
impressive scale of rewards for the faithful 
and ignominious punishments for the capital- 

Critics have often been puzzled by the tre- 
mendous vitality of this work. Its predic- 
tions have never, despite the claims of the faith- 
ful, been fulfilled. Instead of diminishing, 
the spirit of nationalism has been intensified 
tenfold. In nearly every respect Marx's pre- 
dictions concerning the evolution of historical 


and economic forces have been contradicted by 
events, culminating in the great war. Most 
of his followers, the "revolutionary" Social- 
ists, were swept into the whirlpool of national- 
istic militarism. Nevertheless, this "Bible of 
the working classes" still enjoys a tremendous 
authority as a scientific work. By some it is 
regarded as an economic treatise; by others as 
a philosophy of history; by others as a collec- 
tion of sociological laws; and finally by others 
as a moral and political book of reference. 
Criticized, refuted, repudiated and demolished 
by specialists, it nevertheless exerts its influ- 
ences and retains its mysterious vitality. 

We must seek the explanation of this secret 
elsewhere. Modern psychology has taught us 
that human nature has a tendency to place the 
cause of its own deficiencies and weaknesses 
outside of itself, to attribute to some external 
agency, to some enemy or group of enemies, 
the blame for its own misery. In his great 
work Marx unconsciously strengthens and en- 
courages this tendency. The immediate effect 
of his teaching, vulgarized and popularized in 
a hundred different forms, is to relieve the 
proletariat of all responsibility for the effects of 


its reckless breeding, and even to encourage it 
in the perpetuation of misery. 

The inherent truth in the Marxian teachings 
was, moreover, immediately subordinated to 
their emotional and religious appeal. A! 
book that could so influence European thought 
could not be without merit. But in the pro- 
cess of becoming the "Bible of the working 
classes," "Capital" suffered the fate of all such 
"Bibles." The spirit of ecclesiastical dogma- 
tism was transfused into the religion of revo- 
lutionary Socialism. This dogmatic religious 
quality has been noted by many of the most 
observant critics of Socialism. Marx was too 
readily accepted as the father of the church, 
and "Capital" as the sacred gospel of the social 
revolution. All questions of tactics, of prop- 
aganda, of class warfare, of political policy, 
were to be solved by apt quotations from the 
"good book." New thoughts, new schemes, 
new programs, based upon tested fact and ex- 
perience, the outgrowth of newer discoveries 
concerning the nature of men, upon the recog- 
nition of the mistakes of the master, could only 
be approved or admitted according as they 
could or could not be tested by some bit of text 


quoted from Marx. His followers assumed 
that Karl Marx had completed the philosophy 
of Socialism, and that the duty of the proleta- 
riat thenceforth was not to think for itself, but 
merely to mobilize itself under competent 
Marxian leaders for the realization of his ideas. 

From the day of this apotheosis of Marx 
until our own, the "orthodox" Socialist of any 
shade is of the belief that the first essential for 
social salvation lies in unquestioning belief in 
the dogmas of Marx. 

The curious and persistent antagonism to 
Birth Control that began with Marx and con- 
tinues to our own day can be explained only 
as the utter refusal or inability to consider 
humanity in its physiological and psychologi- 
cal aspects these aspects, apparently, having 
no place in the "economic interpretation of 
history." It has remained for George Bern- 
ard Shaw, a Socialist with a keener spiritual 
insight than the ordinary Marxist, to point 
out the disastrous consequences of rapid 
multiplication which are obvious to the small 
cultivator, the peasant proprietor, the lowest 
farmhand himself, but which seem to arouse 
the orthodox, intellectual Marxian to inor- 


dinate fury. "But indeed the more you 
degrade the workers," Shaw once wrote, 3 "rob- 
bing them of all artistic enjoyment, and all 
chance of respect and admiration from their 
fellows, the more you throw them back, reck- 
less, upon the one pleasure and the one human 
tie left to them the gratification of their in- 
stinct for producing fresh supplies of men. 
You will applaud this instinct as divine until 
at last the excessive supply becomes a nuisance : 
there comes a plague of men; and you suddenly 
discover that the instinct is diabolic, and set up 
a cry of 'over-population.' But your slaves 
are beyond caring for your cries: they breed 
like rabbits: and their poverty breeds filth, 
ugliness, dishonesty, disease, obscenity, drunk- 


Lack of insight into fundamental truths of 
human nature is evident throughout the writ- 
ings of the Marxians. The Marxian Social- 
ists, according to Kautsky, defended women in 
industry: it was right for woman to work in 
factories in order to preserve her equality with 
man! Man must not support woman, de- 
clared the great French Socialist Guesde, be- 

s Fabian Essays in Socialism, p. 21. 


cause that would make of her the proletaire of 
man! Bebel, the great authority on woman, 
famous for his erudition, having critically 
studied the problem of population, suggested 
as a remedy for too excessive fecundity the 
consumption of a certain lard soup reputed to 
have an "anti-generative" effect upon the agri- 
cultural population of Upper Bavaria! Such 
are the results of the literal and uncritical ac- 
ceptance of Marx's static and mechanical con- 
ception of human society, a society perfectly 
automatic; in which competition is always op- 
erating at maximum efficiency; one vast and 
unending conspiracy against the blameless pro- 

This lack of insight of the orthodox Marx- 
ians, long represented by the German Social- 
Democrats, is nowhere better illustrated than 
in Dr. Robinson's account of a mass meeting 
of the Social-Democrat party to organize pub- 
lic opinion against the doctrine of Birth Con- 
trol among the poor. 4 "Another meeting had 
taken place the week before, at which several 
eminent Socialist women, among them Rosa 
Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin, spoke very 

* Uncontrolled Breeding, By Adelyne More. p. 84. 


strongly against limitation of offspring among 
the poor in fact the title of the discussion 
was Gegen den Geburtstreik! 'Against the 
birth strike!' The interest of the audience 
was intense. One could see that with them 
it was not merely a dialectic question, as it 
was with their leaders, but a matter of life 
and death. I came to attend a meeting 
against the limitation of offspring; it soon 
proved to be a meeting very decidedly for the 
limitation of offspring, for every speaker who 
spoke in favor of the artificial prevention of 
conception or undesired pregnancies, was 
greeted with vociferous, long-lasting applause ; 
while those who tried to persuade the people 
that a limited number of children is not a 
proletarian weapon, and would not improve 
their lot, were so hissed that they had difficulty 
in going on. The speakers who were against 
the . . . idea soon felt that their audience was 
against them. . . . Why was there such small 
attendance at the regular Socialistic meetings, 
while the meetings of this character were 
packed to suffocation? It did not apparently 
penetrate the leaders' heads that the reason 
was a simple one. Those meetings were evi- 


dently of no interest to them, while those which 
dealt with the limitation of offspring were of 
personal, vital, present interest. . . . What 
particularly amused me and pained me in 
the anti-limitationists was the ease and equa- 
nimity with which they advised the poor 
women to keep on bearing children. The 
woman herself was not taken into consider- 
ation, as if she was not a human being, but 
a machine. What are her sufferings, her 
labor pains, her inability to read, to attend 
meetings, to have a taste of life? What does 
she amount to? The proletariat needs fight- 
ers. Go on, females, and breed like animals. 
Maybe of the thousands you bear a few will be- 
come party members. . . ." 

The militant organization of the Marxian 
Socialists suggests that their campaign must 
assume the tactics of militarism of the famil- 
iar type. As represented by militaristic gov- 
ernments, militarism like Socialism has always 
encouraged the proletariat to increase and 
multiply. Imperial Germany was the out- 
standing and awful example of this attitude. 
Before the war the fall in the birth-rate was 
viewed by the Junker party with the gravest 


misgivings. Bernhardi and the protagonists 
of Deutschland-uber-Alles condemned it in the 
strongest terms. The Marxians unconsciously 
repeat the words of the government represent- 
ative, Krohne, who, in a debate on the subject 
in the Prussian Diet, February 1916, asserted: 
"Unfortunately this view has gained followers 
amongst the German women. . . . These 
women, in refusing to rear strong and able 
children to continue the race, drag into the dust 
that which is the highest end of women- 
motherhood. It is to be hoped that the will- 
ingness to bear sacrifices will lead to a change 
for the better. . . . We need an increase in 
human beings to guard against the attacks of 
envious neighbors as well as to fulfil our cul- 
tural mission. Our whole economic develop- 
ment depends on increase of our people." To- 
day we are fully aware of how imperial Ger- 
many f ulfiled that cultural mission of hers ; nor 
can we overlook the fact that the countries with 
a smaller birth-rate survived the ordeal. Even 
from the traditional militaristic standpoint, 
strength does not reside in numbers, though the 
Csesars, the Napoleons and the Kaisers of the 
world have always believed that large exploit- 


able populations were necessary for their own 
individual power. If Marxian dictatorship 
means the dictatorship of a small minority 
wielding power in the interest of the prole- 
tariat, a high-birth rate may be necessary, 
though we may here recall the answer of the 
lamented Dr. Alfred Fried to the German 
imperialists: "It is madness, the apotheosis of 
unreason, to wish to breed and care for human 
beings in order that in the flower of their youth 
they may be sent in millions to be slaughtered 
wholesale by machinery. We need no whole- 
sale production of men, have no need of the 
'fruitful fertility of women/ no need of whole- 
sale wares, fattened and dressed for slaughter. 
What we do need is careful maintenance of 
those already born. If the bearing of children 
is a moral and religious duty, then it is a much 
higher duty to secure the sacredness and secur- 
ity of human life, so that children born and 
bred with trouble and sacrifice may not be 
offered up in the bloom of youth to a po- 
litical dogma at the bidding of secret diplo- 

Marxism has developed a patriotism of its 
own, if indeed it has not yet been completely 


crystallized into a religion. Like the "capital- 
istic" governments it so vehemently attacks, it 
demands self-sacrifice and even martyrdom 
from the faithful comrades. But since its 
strength depends to so great a degree 
upon "conversion," upon docile acceptance 
of the doctrines of the "Master" as inter- 
preted by the popes and bishops of 
this new church, it fails to arouse the 
irreligious proletariat. The Marxian Social- 
ist boasts of his understanding of "working 
class psychology" and criticizes the lack of this 
understanding on the part of all dissenters. 
But, as the Socialists' meetings against the 
"birth strike" indicate, the working class is not 
interested in such generalities as the Marxian 
"theory of value," the "iron law" of wages, 
"the value of commodities" and the rest of 
the hazy articles of faith. Marx inherited the 
rigid rationalistic psychology of the eighteenth 
century, and his followers, for the most part, 
have accepted his mechanical and superficial 
treatment of instinct. 5 Discontented workers 
may rally to Marxism because it places the 

s For a sympathetic treatment of modern psychological re- 
search as bearing on Communism, by two convinced Com- 
munists see "Creative Revolution," by Eden and Cedar Paul. 


blame for their misery outside of themselves 
and depicts their conditions as the result of a 
capitalistic conspiracy, thereby satisfying that 
innate tendency of every human being to shift 
the blame to some living person outside him- 
self, and because it strengthens his belief that 
his sufferings and difficulties may be overcome 
by the immediate amelioration of his economic 
environment. In this manner, psychologists 
tell us, neuroses and inner compulsions are 
fostered. No true solution is possible, to 
continue this analogy, until the worker is 
awakened to the realization that the roots of 
his malady lie deep in his own nature, his 
own organism, his own habits. To blame 
everything upon the capitalist and the environ- 
ment produced by capitalism is to focus atten- 
tion upon merely one of the elements of the 
problem. The Marxian too often forgets that 
before there was a capitalist there was exer- 
cised the unlimited reproductive activity of 
mankind, which produced the first overcrowd- 
ing, the first want. This goaded humanity 
into its industrial frenzy, into warfare and 
theft and slavery. Capitalism has not created 
the lamentable state of affairs in which the 


world now finds itself. It has grown out of 
them, armed with the inevitable power to take 
advantage of our swarming, spawning mil- 
lions. As that valiant thinker Monsieur G. 
Hardy has pointed out 6 the proletariat may 
be looked upon, not as the antagonist of capi- 
talism, but as its actual accomplice. Labor 
surplus, or the "army of reserve" which has for 
decades and centuries furnished the industrial 
background of human misery, which so invari- 
ably defeats strikes and labor revolts, cannot 
honestly be blamed upon capitalism. It is, as 
M. Hardy points out, of sexual and proleta- 
rian origin. In bringing too many children in- 
to the world, in adding to the total of misery, 
in intensifying the evils of overcrowding, the 
proleteriat itself increases the burden of organ- 
ized labor; even of the Socialist and Syndical- 
ist organizations themselves with a surplus of 
the docilely inefficient, with those great un- 
educable and unorganizable masses. With 
surprisingly few exceptions, Marxians of all 
countries have docilely followed their master 
in rejecting, with bitterness and vindictive- 

6 Neo-Malthusianisme et Socialisme, p. 22. 


ness that is difficult to explain, the principles 
and teachings of Birth Control. 

Hunger alone is not responsible for the bit- 
ter struggle for existence we witness to-day 
in our over-advertised civilization. Sex, un- 
controlled, misdirected, over-stimulated and 
misunderstood, has run riot at the instigation 
of priest, militarist and exploiter. Uncon- 
trolled sex has rendered the proletariat pros- 
trate, the capitalist powerful. In this contin- 
uous, unceasing alliance of sexual instinct and 
hunger we find the reason for the decline of all 
the finer sentiments. These instincts tear 
asunder the thin veils of culture and hypocrisy 
and expose to our gaze the dark sufferings of 
gaunt humanity. So have we become familiar 
with the everyday spectacle of distorted bodies, 
of harsh and frightful diseases stalking abroad 
in the light of day ; of misshapen heads and vis- 
ages of moron and imbecile; of starving chil- 
dren in city streets and schools. This is the 
true soil of unspeakable crimes. Defect and 
delinquency join hands with disease, and ac- 
counts of inconceivable and revolting vices are 
dished up in the daily press. When the ma- 


jority of men and women are driven by the 
grim lash of sex and hunger in the unending 
struggle to feed themselves and to carry the 
dead-weight of dead and dying progeny, when 
little children are forced into factories, streets, 
and shops, education including even educa- 
tion in the Marxian dogmas is quite impos- 
sible; and civilization is more completely 
threatened than it ever could be by pestilence 
or war. 

But, it will be pointed out, the working class 
has advanced. Power has been acquired by 
labor unions and syndicates. In the begin- 
ning power was won by the principle of the re- 
striction of numbers. The device of refusing 
to admit more than a fixed number of new 
members to the unions of the various trades 
has been justified as necessary for the uphold- 
ing of the standard of wages and of working 
conditions. This has been the practise in pre- 
cisely those unions which have been able 
through years of growth and development to 
attain tangible strength and power. Such a 
principle of restriction is necessary in the crea- 
tion of a firmly and deeply rooted trunk or cen- 
tral organization furnishing a local center for 


more extended organization. It is upon this 
great principle of restricted number that the 
labor unions have generated and developed 
power. They have acquired this power with- 
out any religious emotionalism, without sub- 
scribing to metaphysical or economic theology. 
For the millenium and the earthly paradise to 
be enjoyed at some indefinitely future date, the 
union member substitutes the very real poli- 
tics of organization with its resultant benefits. 
He increases his own independence and com- 
fort and that of his family. He is immune to 
superstitious belief in and respect for the mys- 
terious power of political or economic nostrums 
to reconstruct human society according to the 
Marxian formula. 

In rejecting the Marxian hypothesis as 
superficial and fragmentary, we do so not be- 
cause of its so-called revolutionary character, 
its threat to the existing order of things, (but 
rather because of its superficial, emotional and 
religious character and its deleterious effect 
upon the life of reason. Like other schemes 
advanced by the alarmed and the indignant, 
it relies too much upon moral fervor and en- 
thusiasm. To build any social program upon 


the shifting sands of sentiment and feeling, 
of indignation or enthusiasm, is a dangerous 
and foolish task. On the other hand, we 
should not minimize the importance of the 
Socialist movement in so valiantly and so 
courageously battling against the stagnating 
complacency of our conservatives and reaction- 
aries, under whose benign imbecility the de- 
fective and diseased elements of humanity are 
encouraged "full speed ahead" in their reck- 
less and irresponsible swarming and spawning. 
Nevertheless, as George Drysdale pointed out 
nearly seventy years ago; 

". . . If we ignore this and other sexual 
subjects, we may do whatever else we like: 
we may bully, we may bluster, we may rage, 
We may foam at the mouth ; we may tear down 
Heaven with our prayers, we may exhaust 
ourselves with weeping over the sorrows of the 
poor; we may narcotize ourselves and others 
with the opiate of Christian resignation; we 
may dissolve the realities of human woe in a 
delusive mirage of poetry and ideal philosophy ; 
we may lavish our substance in charity, and 
labor over possible or impossible Poor Laws; 
we may form wild dreams of Socialism, in- 


dustrial regiments, universal brotherhood, red 
republics, or unexampled revolutions; we may 
strangle and murder each other, we may per- 
secute and despise those whose sexual ne- 
cessities force them to break through our un- 
natural moral codes; we may burn alive if 
we please the prostitutes and the adulterers; 
we may break our own and our neighbor's 
hearts against the adamantine laws that sur- 
round us, but not one step, not one shall we 
advance, till we acknowledge these laws, and 
adopt the only possible mode in which they 
can be obeyed." These words were written in 
1854. Recent events have accentuated their 
stinging truth. 



EUGENICS has been defined as "the study of 
agencies under social control that may improve 
or impair the racial qualities of future gener- 
ations, either mentally or physically." While 
there is no inherent conflict between Socialism 
and Eugenics, the latter is, broadly, the an- 
tithesis of the former. In its propaganda, 
Socialism emphasizes the evil effects of our 
industrial and economic system. It insists 
upon the necessity of satisfying material needs, 
upon sanitation, hygiene, and education to ef- 
fect the transformation of society. The 
Socialist insists that healthy humanity is im- 
possible without a radical improvement of 
the social and therefore of the economic 
and industrial environment. The Eugenist 
points out that heredity is the great determin- 
ing factor in the lives of men and women. 
Eugenics is the attempt to solve the problem 



from the biological and evolutionary point of 
view. You may ring all the changes possible 
on "Nurture" or environment, the Eugenist 
may say to the Socialist, but comparatively 
little can be effected until you control bio- 
logical and hereditary elements of the problem. 
Eugenics thus aims to seek out the root of our 
trouble, to study humanity as a kinetic, 
dynamic, evolutionary organism, shifting and 
changing with the successive generations, 
rising and falling, cleansing itself of inherent 
defects, or under adverse and dysgenic influ- 
ences, sinking into degeneration and deterior- 

"Eugenics" was first defined by Sir Francis 
Galton in his "Human Faculty" in 1884, and 
was subsequently developed into a science and 
into an educational effort. Galton's ideal was 
the rational breeding of human beings. The 
aim of Eugenics, as defined by its founder, 
is to bring as many influences as can be 
reasonably employed, to cause the useful 
classes of the community to contribute more 
than their proportion to the next gener- 
ation. Eugenics thus concerns itself with 
all influences that improve the inborn qual- 


ities of a race; also with those that de- 
velop them to the utmost advantage. It is, in 
short, the attempt to bring reason and intelli- 
gence to bear upon heredity. But Gait on, in 
spite of the immense value of this approach 
and, his great stimulation to criticism, was 
completely unable to formulate a definite and 
practical working program. He hoped at 
length to introduce Eugenics "into the national 
conscience like a new religion. ... I see no 
impossibility in Eugenics becoming a religious 
dogma among mankind, but its details must 
first be worked out sedulously in the study. 
Over-zeal leading to hasty action, would do 
harm by holding out expectations of a new 
golden age, which will certainly be falsified 
and cause the science to be discredited. The 
first and main point is to secure the general 
intellectual acceptance of Eugenics as a hope- 
ful and most important study. Then, let its 
principles work into the heart of the nation, 
who will gradually give practical effect to them 
in ways that we may not wholly foresee." 

Galton formulated a general law of inherit- 
ance which declared that an individual receives 

i Gallon. Essays in Eugenics, p. 43. 


one-half of his inheritance from his two parents, 
one-fourth from his four grandparents, one- 
eighth from his great-grandparents, one- 
sixteenth from his great-great grandparents, 
and so on by diminishing fractions to his prim- 
ordial ancestors, the sum of all these fractions 
added together contributing to the whole of 
the inherited make-up. The trouble with this 
generalization, from the modern Mendelian 
point of view, is that it fails to define what 
"characters" one would get in the one-half that 
came from one's parents, or the one-fourth 
from one's grandparents. The whole of our 
inheritance is not composed of these indefinitely 
made up fractional parts. We are interested 
rather in those more specific traits or characters, 
mental or physical, which, in the Mendelian 
view, are structural and functional units, mak- 
ing up a mosaic rather than a blend. The 
laws of heredity are concerned with the precise 
behavior, during a series of generations, of 
these specific unit characters. This behavior, 
as the study of Genetics shows, may be de- 
termined in lesser organisms by experiment. 
Once determined, they are subject to prophecy. 
The problem of human heredity is now seen 


to be infinitely more complex than imagined 
by Galton and his followers, and the opti- 
mistic hope of elevating Eugenics to the level 
of a religion is a futile one. Most of the 
Eugenists, including Professor Karl Pearson 
and his colleagues of the Eugenics Laboratory 
of the University of London and of the biomet- 
ric laboratory in University College, have re- 
tained the age-old point of view of "Nature vs. 
Nurture" and have attempted to show the pre- 
dominating influence of Heredity as opposed 
to Environment. This may be true; but 
demonstrated and repeated in investigation 
after investigation, it nevertheless remains 
fruitless and unprofitable from the practical 
point of view. 

We should not minimize the great outstand- 
ing service of Eugenics for critical and 
diagnostic investigations. It demonstrates, 
not in terms of glittering generalization but in 
statistical studies of investigations reduced to 
measurement and number, that uncontrolled 
fertility is universally correlated with disease, 
poverty, overcrowding and the transmisson of 
hereditable taints. Professor Pearson and his 
associates show us that "if fertility be corre- 


lated with anti-social heredity characters, a 
population will inevitably degenerate." 

This degeneration has already begun. 
Eugenists demonstrate that two-thirds of our 
manhood of military age are physically too 
unfit to shoulder a rifle ; that the feeble-minded, 
the syphilitic, the irresponsible and the defec- 
tive breed unhindered; that women are driven 
into factories and shops on day-shift and night- 
shift; that children, frail carriers of the torch 
of life, are put to work at an early age; that 
society at large is breeding an ever-increasing 
army of under-sized, stunted and dehumanized 
slaves; that the vicious circle of mental and 
physical defect, delinquency and beggary is 
encouraged, by the unseeing and unthinking 
sentimentality of our age, to populate asylum, 
hospital and prison. 

All these things the Eugenist sees and points 
out with a courage entirely admirable. But 
as a positive program of redemption, or- 
thodox Eugenics can offer nothing more 
"constructive" than a renewed "cradle com- 
petition" between the "fit" and the "unfit." 
It sees that the most responsible and most 
intelligent members of society are the less 


fertile; that the feeble-minded are the more 
fertile. Herein lies the unbalance, the great 
biological menace to the future of civilization. 
Are we heading to biological destruction, 
toward the gradual but certain attack upon the 
stocks of intelligence and racial health by the 
sinister forces of the hordes of irresponsibility 
and imbecility? This is not such a remote 
danger as the optimistic Eugenist might 
suppose. The mating of the moron with a 
person of sound stock may, as Dr. Tredgold 
points out, gradually disseminate this trait 
far and wide until it undermines the vigor and 
efficiency of an entire nation and an entire 
race. This is no idle fancy. We must take 
it into account if we wish to escape the fate 
that has befallen so many civilizations in the 

"It is, indeed, more than likely that the 
presence of this impairment in a mitigated 
form is responsible for no little of the defective 
character, the diminution of mental and moral 
fiber at the present day," states Dr. Tredgold. 2 
Such populations, this distinguished authority 
night have added, form the veritable "cultures" 

2 Eugenics Review, Vol. XIII, p. 349. 


not only for contagious physical diseases but 
for mental instability and irresponsibility also. 
They are susceptible, exploitable, hysterical, 
non-resistant to external suggestion. Devoid 
of stamina, such folk become mere units in 
a mob. "The habit of crowd-making is daily 
becoming a more serious menace to civiliza- 
tion," writes Everett Dean Martin. "Our 
society is becoming a veritable babel of gib- 
bering crowds." 3 It would be only the in- 
corrigible optimist who refused to see the 
integral relation between this phenomenon 
and the indiscriminate breeding by which we 
recruit our large populations. 

< The danger of recruiting our numbers from 
the most "fertile stocks" is further emphasized 
when we recall that in a democracy like that 
of the United States every man and woman 
is permitted a vote in the government, and 
that it is the representatives of this grade of 
intelligence who may destroy our liberties, and 
who may thus be the most far-reaching peril 
to the future of civilization. 

"It is a pathological worship of mere 
number," writes Alleyne Ireland, "which has 

Martin, The Behavior of Crowds, p. 6, 


inspired all the efforts the primary, the 
direct election of Senators, the initiative, the 
recall and the referendum to cure the evils 
of mob rule by increasing the size of the mob 
and extending its powers." 4 

Equality of political power has thus been 
bestowed upon the lowest elements of our 
population. We must not be surprised, 
therefore, at the spectacle of political scandal 
and graft, of the notorious and universally 
ridiculed low level of intelligence and flagrant 
stupidity exhibited by our legislative bodies. 
The Congressional Record mirrors our po- 
litical imbecility. 

All of these dangers and menaces are acutely 
realized by the Eugenists; it is to them that 
we are most indebted for the proof that reck- 
less spawning carries with it the seeds of 
destruction. But whereas the Galtonians 
reveal themselves as unflinching in their in- 
vestigation and in their exhibition of fact and 
diagnoses of symptoms, they do not on the 
other hand show much power in suggesting 
practical and feasible remedies. 

*Cf. Democracy and the Human Equation. E. P. Dutton 
& Co., 1921, 


On its scientific side, Eugenics suggests the 
reestablishment of the balance between the 
fertility of the "fit" and the "unfit." The 
birth-rate among the normal and healthier and 
finer stocks of humanity, is to be increased by 
awakening among the "fit" the realization of 
the dangers of a lessened birth-rate in pro- 
portion to the reckless breeding among the 
"unfit." By education, by persuasion, by 
appeals to racial ethics and religious motives, 
the ardent Eugenist hopes to increase the 
fertility of the "fit." Professor Pearson 
thinks that it is especially necessary to awaken 
the hardiest stocks to this duty. These stocks, 
he says, are to be found chiefly among the 
skilled artisan class, the intelligent working 
class. Here is a fine combination of health and 
hardy vigor, of sound body and sound mind. 

Professor Pearson and his school of bio- 
metrics here ignore or at least fail to record 
one of those significant "correlations" which 
form the basis of his method. The publi- 
cations of the Eugenics Laboratory all tend to 
show that a high rate of fertility is correlated 
with extreme poverty, recklessness, deficiency 
and delinquency; similarly, that among the 


more intelligent, this rate of fertility decreases. 
But the scientific Eugenists fail to recognize 
that this restraint of fecundity is due to a 
deliberate foresight and is a conscious effort 
to elevate standards of living for the family 
and the children of the responsible and 
possibly more selfish sections of the com- 
munity. The appeal to enter again into com- 
petitive child-bearing, for the benefit of the 
nation or the race, or any other abstraction, will 
fall on deaf ears. 

Pearson has done invaluable work in point- 
ing out the fallacies and the false conclusions of 
the ordinary statisticians. But when he at- 
tempts to show by the methods of biometrics 
that not only the first child but also the second, 
are especially liable to suffer from transmis- 
sible pathological defects, such as insanity, 
criminality and tuberculosis, he fails to rec- 
ognize that this tendency is counterbalanced 
by the high mortality rate among later chil- 
dren. If first and second children reveal a 
greater percentage of hereditable defect, it is 
because the later born children are less liable 
to survive the conditions produced by a large 


In passing, we should here recognize the 
difficulties presented by the idea of "fit" and 
"unfit." Who is to decide this question? The 
grosser, the more obvious, the undeniably 
feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be dis- 
couraged but prevented from propagating their 
kind. But among the writings of the rep- 
resentative Eugenists one cannot ignore the 
distinct middle-class bias that prevails. As 
that penetrating critic, F. W. Stella Browne, 
has said in another connection, "The Eugenics 
Education Society has among its numbers 
many most open-minded and truly progres- 
sive individuals but the official policy it has 
pursued for years has been inspired by class- 
bias and sex bias. The society laments with 
increasing vehemence the multiplication of the 
less fortunate classes at a more rapid rate 
than the possessors of leisure and opportunity. 
(I do not think it relevant here to discuss 
whether the innate superiority of endowment 
in the governing class really is so overwhelming 
as to justify the Eugenics Education Society's 
peculiar use of the terms 'fit' and 'unfit'!) 
Yet it has persistently refused to give any help 
toward extending the knowledge of contra- 


ceptives to the exploited classes. Similarly, 
though the Eugenics Review, the organ of the 
society, frequently laments the 'selfishness' of 
the refusal of maternity by healthy and edu- 
cated women of the professional classes, I have 
yet to learn that it has made any official pro- 
nouncement on the English illegitimacy laws 
or any organized effort toward defending the 
unmarried mother." 

This peculiarly Victorian reticence may 
be inherited from the founder of Eugenics. 
Galton declared that the "Bohemian" element 
in the Anglo-Saxon race is destined to perish, 
and "the sooner it goes, the happier for man- 
kind." The trouble with any effort of trying 
to divide humanity into the "fit" and the "un- 
fit," is that we do not want, as H. G. Wells 
recently pointed out, 5 to breed for uniformity 
but for variety. "We want statesmen and 
poets and musicians and philosophers and 
strong men and delicate men and brave men. 
The qualities of one would be the weaknesses 
of the other." We want, most of all, genius. 

Proscription on Galtonian lines would tend 
to eliminate many of the great geniuses of the 

The Salvaging of Civilization, 


world who were not only "Bohemian," but 
actually and pathologically abnormal men 
like Rousseau, Dostoevsky, Chopin, Poe, Schu- 
mann, Nietzsche, Comte, Guy de Maupassant, 
and how many others? But such consider- 
ations should not lead us into error of conclud- 
ing that such men were geniuses merely because 
they were pathological specimens, and that the 
only way to produce a genius is to breed dis- 
ease and defect. It only emphasizes the dan- 
gers of external standards of "fit" and "unfit." 
These limitations are more strikingly shown 
in the types of so-called "eugenic" legislation 
passed or proposed by certain enthusiasts. 
Regulation, compulsion and prohibitions 
affected and enacted by political bodies are the 
surest methods of driving the whole problem 
under-ground. As Havelock Ellis has pointed 
out, the absurdity and even hopelessness of 
effecting Eugenic improvement by placing on 
the statute books prohibitions of legal matri- 
mony to certain classes of people, reveal the 
weakness of those Eugenists who minimize or 
undervalue the importance of environment as a 
determining factor. They affirm that heredity 
is everything and environment nothing, yet 


forget that it is precisely those who are most 
universally subject to bad environment who 
procreate most copiously, most recklessly and 
most disastrously. Such marriage laws are 
based for the most part on the infantile as- 
sumption that procreation is absolutely de- 
pendent upon the marriage ceremony, an 
assumption usually coupled with the comple- 
mentary one that the only purpose in marriage 
is procreation. Yet it is a fact so obvious that 
it is hardly worth stating that the most fertile 
classes who indulge in the most dysgenic type 
of procreating the feeble-minded are al- 
most totally unaffected by marriage laws and 

As for the sterilization of habitual criminals, 
not merely must we know more of heredity 
and genetics in general, but also acquire more 
certainty of the justice of our laws and the 
honesty of their administration before we can 
make rulings of fitness or unfitness merely 
upon the basis of a respect for law. On this 
point the eminent William Bateson writes: 6 
"Criminals are often feeble-minded, but as 

6 Common Sense in Racial Problems. By W. Bateson, M. A, 
A., F. R. S, 


regards those that are not, the fact that a man 
is for the purposes of Society classified as a 
criminal, tells me little as to his value, still less 
as to the possible value of his offspring. It is 
a fault inherent in criminal jurisprudence, 
based on non-biological data, that the law must 
needs take the nature of the offenses rather 
than that of the offenders as the basis of classi- 
fication. A change in the right direction has 
begun, but the problem is difficult and prog- 
ress will be very slow. . . . We all know of 
persons convicted, perhaps even habitually, 
whom the world could ill spare. Therefore 
I hesitate to proscribe the criminal. Pro- 
scription ... is a weapon with a very nasty 
recoil. Might not some with equal cogency 
proscribe army contractors and their accom- 
plices, the newspaper patriots? The crimes 
of the prison population are petty offenses by 
comparison, and the significance we attach to 
them is a survival of other days. Felonies may 
be great events, locally, but they do not induce 
catastrophies. The proclivities of the war- 
makers are infinitely more dangerous than 
those of the aberrant beings whom from time 
to time the law may dub as criminal. Con- 


sistent and portentous selfishness, combined 
with dulness of imagination is probably just 
as transmissible as want of self-control, though 
destitute of the amiable qualities not rarely 
associated with the genetic composition of 
persons of unstable mind." 

In this connection, we should note another 
type of "respectable" criminality noted by 
Havelock Ellis: "If those persons who raise 
the cry of 'race-suicide' in face of the decline 
of the birth-rate really had the knowledge and 
the intelligence to realize the manifold evils 
which they are invoking, they would deserve 
to be treated as criminals." 

Our debt to the science of Eugenics is great 
in that it directs our attention to the biological 
nature of humanity. Yet there is too great 
a tendency among the thinkers of this school, 
to restrict their ideas of sex to its expression 
as a purely procreative function. Compulsory 
legislation which would make the inevitably 
futile attempt to prohibit one of the most 
beneficent and necessary of human ex- 
pressions, or regulate it into the channels of 
preconceived philosophies, would reduce us 


to the unpleasant days predicted by William 
Blake, when 

"Priests in black gowns will be walking their rounds 
And binding with briars our joys and desires." 

Eugenics is chiefly valuable in its negative 
aspects. It is "negative Eugenics" that has 
studied the histories of such families as the 
Jukeses and the Kallikaks, that has pointed 
out the network of imbecility and feeble- 
mindedness that has been sedulously spread 
through all strata of society. On its so-called 
positive or constructive side, it fails to awaken 
any permanent interest. "Constructive" 
Eugenics aims to arouse the enthusiasm or the 
interest of the people in the welfare of the 
world fifteen or twenty generations in the 
future. On its negative side it shows us that 
we are paying for and even submitting to the 
dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly 
spawning class of human beings who never 
should have been born at all that the wealth 
of individuals and of states is being diverted 
from the development and the progress of 
human expression and civilization. 


While it is necessary to point out the im- 
portance of "heredity" as a determining factor 
in human life, it is fatal to elevate it to the 
position of an absolute. As with environ- 
ment, the concept of heredity derives its value 
and its meaning only in so far as it is embodied 
and made concrete in generations of living 
organisms. Environment and heredity are 
not antagonistic. Our problem is not that of 
"Nature vs. Nurture," but rather of Nature X 
Nurture, of heredity multiplied by envirtm- 
ment, if we may express it thus. The 
Eugenist who overlooks the importance of 
environment as a determining factor in human 
life, is as short-sighted as the Socialist who 
neglects the biological nature of man. We 
cannot disentangle these two forces, except 
in theory. To the child in the womb, said 
Samuel Butler, the mother is. "environment." 
She is, of course, likewise "heredity." The 
age-old discussion of "Nature vs. Nurture" 
has been threshed out time after time, usually 
fruitlessly, because of a failure to recognize 
the indivisibility of these biological factors. 
The opposition or antagonism between them 


is an artificial and academic one, having no 
basis in the living organism. 

The great principle of Birth, Control offers 
the means whereby the individual may adapt 
himself to and even control the forces of en- 
vironment and heredity. Entirely apart from 
its Malthusian aspect or that of the popu- 
lation question, Birth Control must be rec- 
ognized, as the Neo-Malthusians pointed 
out long ago, not "merely as the key of the 
social position," and the only possible and 
practical method of human generation, but 
as the very pivot of civilization. Birth Con- 
trol which has been criticized as negative and 
destructive, is really the greatest and most 
truly eugenic method, and its adoption as part 
of the program of Eugenics would im- 
mediately give a concrete and realistic power / 
to that science. As a matter of fact, Birth / 
Control has been accepted by the most clear / 
thinking and far seeing of the Eugenists them- / 
selves as the most constructive and necessary 
of the means to racial health. 7 

7 Among these are Dean W. R. Inge, Professor J. Arthur 
Thomson, Dr. Havelock Ellis, Professor William Bateson, Ma- 
jor Leonard Darwin and Miss Norah March. 



I went to the Garden of Love, 

And saw what I never had seen; 
A Chapel was built in the midst, 

Where I used to play on the green. 

And the gates of this Chapel were shut, 
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door; 

So I turned to the Garden of Love 
That so many sweet flowers bore. 

And I saw it was filled with graves, 

And tombstones where flowers should be; 
And priests in black gowns were walking their 


And binding with briars my joys and 

William Blake 

ORTHODOX opposition to Birth Control is 
formulated in the official protest of the 
National Council of Catholic Women against 
the resolution passed by the New York State 



Federation of Women's Clubs which favored 
the removal of all obstacles to the spread of 
information regarding practical methods of 
Birth Control. The Catholic statement com- 
pletely embodies traditional opposition to 
Birth Control. It affords a striking contrast 
by which we may clarify and justify the ethical 
necessity for this new instrument of civili- 
zation as the most effective basis for practical 
and scientific morality. "The authorities at 
Rome have again and again declared that all 
positive methods of this nature are immoral^ 
and forbidden," states the National Council 
of Catholic Women. "There is no question 
of the lawfulness of birth restriction through 
abstinence from the relations which result in 
conception. The immorality of Birth Con- 
trol as it is practised and commonly under- 
stood, consists in the evils of the particular , 
method employed. These are all contrary to 
the moral law because they are unnatural, be- 1 
ing a perversion of a natural function. Hu- 
man faculties are used in such a way as 
to frustrate the natural end for which these 
faculties were created. This is always intrin- 
sically wrong as wrong as lying and blas- 


phemy. No supposed beneficial consequence 
can make good a practice which is, in itself, im- 
moral. . . . 

"The evil results of the practice of Birth 
Control are numerous. Attention will be 
called here to only three. The first is the deg- 
radation of the marital relation itself, since 
the husband and wife who indulge in any form 
of this practice come to have a lower idea of 
married life. They cannot help coming to 
regard each other to a great extent as mutual 
instruments of sensual gratification, rather 
than as cooperators with the Creator in bring- 
ing children into the world. This consider- 
ation may be subtle but it undoubtedly rep- 
resents the facts. 

"In the second place, the deliberate restric- 
tion of the family through these immoral prac- 
tices deliberately weakens self-control and the 
capacity for self-denial, and increases the love 
of ease and luxury. The best indication of 
this is that the small family is much more 
prevalent in the classes that are comfortable 
and well-to-do than among those whose ma- 
terial advantages are moderate or small. The 
theory of the advocates of Birth Control is 


that those parents who are comfortably sit- 
uated should have a large number of children 
(sic!) while the poor should restrict their off- 
spring to a much smaller number. This theory 
does not work, for the reason that each married 
couple have their own idea of what constitutes 
unreasonable hardship in the matter of bearing 
and rearing children. A large proportion of 
the parents who are addicted to Birth Control 
practices are sufficiently provided with worldly 
goods to be free from apprehension on the 
economic side; nevertheless, they have small 
families because they are disinclined to under- 
take the other burdens involved in bringing up 
a more numerous family. A practice which 
tends to produce such exaggerated notions of 
what constitutes hardship, which leads men and 
women to cherish such a degree of ease, makes 
inevitably for inefficiency, a decline in the 
capacity to endure and to achieve, and for 
a general social decadence. 

"Finally, Birth Control leads sooner or 
later to a decline in population. . . ." (The 
case of France is instanced.) But it is es- 
sentially the moral question that alarms the 
Catholic women, for the statement concludes: 


"The further effect of such proposed legisla- 
tion will inevitably be a lowering both of 
public and private morals. What the fathers 
of this country termed indecent and forbade 
the mails to carry, will, if such legislation is 
carried through, be legally decent. The pur- 
veyors of sexual license and immorality will 
have the opportunity to send almost anything 
they care to write through the mails on the 
plea that it is sex information. Not only the 
married but also the unmarried will be thus 
affected ; the ideals of the young contaminated 
and lowered. The morals of the entire nation 
will suffer. 

"The proper attitude of Catholics ... is 
clear. They should watch and oppose all at- 
tempts in state legislatures and in Congress to 
repeal the laws whch now prohibit the dissemi- 
nation of information concerning Birth Con- 
trol. Such information will be spread only 
too rapidly despite existing laws. To repeal 
these would greatly accelerate this deplorable 
movement. 1 >: 

The Catholic position has been stated in 
an even more extreme form by Archbishop 

i Quoted in the National Catholic Welfare Council Bulletin: 
Vol. II, No. 5, p. 21 (January, 1921). 


Patrick J. Hayes of the archdiocese of New 
York. In a "Christmas Pastoral" this digni- 
tary even went to the extent of declaring that 
"even though some little angels in the flesh, 
through the physical or mental deformities of 
their parents, may appear to human eyes hid- 
eous, misshapen, a blot on civilized society, we 
must not lose sight of this Christian thought 
that under and within such visible malforma- 
tion, lives an immortal soul to be saved and 
glorified for all eternity among the blessed 
in heaven." 2 

With the type of moral philosophy ex- 
pressed in this utterance, we need not argue. 
It is based upon traditional ideas that have 
had the practical effect of making this world 
a vale of tears. Fortunately such words 
carry no weight with those who can bring free 
and keen as well as noble minds to the con- 
sideration of the matter. To them the ideal- 
ism of such an utterance appears crude and 
cruel. The menace to civilization of such 
orthodoxy, if it be orthodoxy, lies in the fact 
that its powerful exponents may be for a time 
successful not merely in influencing the con- 

2 Quoted in daily press, December 19, 1921. 


duct of their adherents but in checking free- 
dom of thought and discussion. To this, with 
all the vehemence of emphasis at our command, 
we object. From what Archbishop Hayes be- 
lieves concerning the future blessedness in 
Heaven of the souls of those who are born 
into this world as hideous and misshapen 
beings he has a right to seek such consolation 
as may be obtained; but we who are trying 
to better the conditions of this world believe 
that a healthy, happy human race is more in 
keeping with the laws of God, than disease, 
misery and poverty perpetuating itself gen- 
eration after generation. Furthermore, while 
conceding to Catholic or other churchmen 
full freedom to preach their own doctrines, 
whether of theology or morals, nevertheless 
when they attempt to carry these ideas into 
legislative acts and force their opinions and 
codes upon the non-Catholics, we consider such 
action an interference with the principles of 
democracy and we have a right to protest. 

Religious propaganda against Birth Control 
is crammed with contradiction and fallacy. 
It refutes itself. Yet it brings the opposing 
views into vivid contrast. In stating these 


differences we should make clear that ad- 
vocates of Birth Control are not seeking to 
attack the Catholic church. We quarrel with 
that church, however, when it seeks to assume 
authority over non- Catholics and to dub their 
behavior immoral because they do not con- 
form to the dictatorship of Rome. The ques- 
tion of bearing and rearing children we hold 
is the concern of the mother and the poten- 
tial mother. If she delegates the responsi- 
bility, the ethical education, to an external 
authority, that is her affair. We object, 
however, to the State or the Church which 
appoints itself as arbiter and dictator in this 
sphere and attempts to force unwilling 
women into compulsory maternity. 

When Catholics declare that "the author- 
ities at Rome have again and again declared 
that all positive methods of this nature are 
immoral and forbidden," they do so upon the 
assumption that morality consists in conform- 
ing to laws laid down and enforced by external 
authority, in submission to decrees and dicta 
imposed from without. In this case, they 
decide in a wholesale manner the conduct of 
millions, demanding of them not the intelli- 


gent exercise of their own individual judg- 
ment and discrimination, but unquestioning 
submission and conformity to dogma, The 
Xhurch thus takes the place of all-powerful 
parents, and demands of its children merely 
that they should obey. In my belief such a 
philosophy hampers the development of in- 
dividual intelligence. Morality then becomes 
a more or less successful attempt to conform 
to a code, instead of an attempt to bring 
reason and intelligence to bear upon the solu- 
tion of each individual human problem. 

But, we read on, Birth Control methods 
are not merely contrary to "moral law," but 
forbidden because they are "unnatural," being 
"the perversion of a natural function." This, 
of course, is the weakest link in the whole 
chain. Yet "there is no question of the law- 
fulness of birth restriction through absti- 
nence" as though abstinence itself were not 
unnatural! For more than a thousand years 
the Church was occupied with the problem of 
imposing abstinence on its priesthood, its most 
educated and trained body of men, educated 
to look upon asceticism as the finest ideal; it 
took one thousand years to convince the 


Catholic priesthood that abstinence was "nat- 
tural" or practicable. 3 Nevertheless, there 
is still this talk of abstinence, self-control, and 
self-denial, almost in the same breath with the 
condemnation of Birth Control as "unnatural." 
If it is our duty to act as "cooperators with 
the Creator" to bring children into the world, 
it is difficult to say at what point our behavior 
is "unnatural." If it is immoral and "unnat-y 
ural" to prevent an unwanted life from coming 
into existence, is it not immoral and "un- 
natural" to remain unmarried from the age of 
puberty? Such casuistry is unconvincing and 
feeble. We need only point out that rational - 
intelligence is also a "natural" function, and 
that it is as imperative for us to use the facul- 
ties of judgment, criticism, discrimination of 
choice, selection and control, all the faculties 
of the intelligence, as it is to use those of re- 
production. It is certainly dangerous "to frus- 
trate the natural ends for which these faculties 
were created." This, also, is always intrinsi- 
cally wrong as wrong as lying and blasphemy 
and infinitely more devastating. Intelli- 
gence is as natural to us as any other faculty, 

3 H. C. Lea: History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (Philadelphia, 



and it is fatal to moral development and 
growth to refuse to use it and to delegate to 
others the solution of our individual problems. 
The evil will not be that one's conduct is diver- 
gent from current and conventional moral 
codes. There may be every outward evidence 
of conformity, but this agreement may be 
arrived at, by the restriction and suppression 
of subjective desires, and the more or less suc- 
cessful attempt at mere conformity. Such 
"morality" would conceal an inner conflict. 
The fruits of this conflict would be neurosis 
and hysteria on the one hand; or concealed 
gratification of suppressed desires on the other, 
with a resultant hypocrisy and cant. True 
morality cannot be based on conformity. 
There must be no conflict between subjective 
desire and outward behavior. 

To object to these traditional and churchly 
ideas does not by any means imply that the 
doctrine of Birth Control is anti- Christian. 
On the contrary, it may be profoundly in ac- 
cordance with the Sermon on the Mount. One 
of the greatest living theologians and most 
penetrating students of the problems of civil- 
ization is of this opinion. In an address de- 


livered before the Eugenics Education Society 
of London, 4 William Ralph Inge, the Very 
Reverend Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, 
London, pointed out that the doctrine of Birth 
Control was to be interpreted as of the very 
essence of Christianity. 

"We should be ready to give up all our 
theories," he asserted, "if science proved that 
we were on the wrong lines. And we can un- 
derstand, though we profoundly disagree with, / 
those who oppose us on the grounds of author- 
ity. . . . We know where we are with a 
man who says, 'Birth Control is forbidden 
by God; we prefer poverty, unemployment, 
war, the physical, intellectual and moral 
degeneration of the people, and a high death- 
rate to any interference with the universal 
command to be fruitful and multiply'; but 
we have no patience with those who say that 
we can have unrestricted and unregulated 
propagation without those consequences. It 
is a great part of our work to press home to 
the public mind the alternative that lies before 
us. Either rational selection must take the 
place of the natural selection which the modern 

* Eugenics Review, January 1921. 


State will not allow to act, or we must go on 
deteriorating. When we can convince the 
public of this, the opposition of organized 
religion will soon collapse or become ineffec- 
tive." Dean Inge effectively answers those 
who have objected to the methods of Birth 
Control is "immoral" and in contradiction 
and inimical to the teachings of Christ. In- 
cidentally he claims that those who are not 
blinded by prejudices recognize that " Chris- 
tianity aims at saving the soul the personality, 
the nature, of man, not his body or his environ- 
ment. According to Christianity, a man is 
saved, not by what he has, or knows, or does, 
but by what he is. It treats all the apparatus 
of life with a disdain as great as that of the 
biologist ; so long as a man is inwardly healthy, 
it cares very little whether he is rich or poor, 
learned or simple, and even whether he is 
happy, or unhappy. It attaches no impor- 
tance to quantitative measurements of any 
kind. The Christian does not gloat over favor- 
able trade-statistics, nor congratulate himself 
on the disparity between the number of births 
and deaths. For him . . . the test of the wel- 
fare of a country is the quality of the human 


beings whom it produces. Quality is every- 
thing, quantity is nothing. And besides this, 
the Christian conception of a kingdom of God 
upon earth teaches us to turn our eyes to the 
future, and to think of the welfare of posterity 
as a thing which concerns us as much as that of 
our own generation. This welfare, as con- 
ceived by Christianity, is of course something 
different from external prosperity; it is to be 
the victory of intrinsic worth and healthiness 
over all the false ideals and deep-seated dis- 
eases which at present spoil civilization." 

"It is not political religion with which I am 
concerned," Dean Inge explained, "but the 
convictions of really religious persons; and I 
do not think that we need despair of convert- 
ing them to our views." 

Dean Inge believes Birth Control is an es- 
sential part of Eugenics, and an essential 
part of Christian morality. On this point 
he asserts: "We do wish to remind our 
orthodox and conservative friends that the 
Sermon on the Mount contains some admir- 
ably clear and unmistakable eugenic pre- 
cepts. 'Do men gather grapes of thorns, or 
figs of thistles? A corrupt tree cannot bring 


forth good fruit, neither can a good tree bring 
forth evil fruit. Every tree which bringeth 
not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast 
into the fire.' We wish to apply these words 
not only to the actions of individuals, which 
spring from their characters, but to the char- 
acter of individuals, which spring from their 
inherited qualities. This extension of the 
scope of the maxim seems to me quite legiti- 
mate. Men do not gather grapes of thorns. 
As our proverb says, you cannot make a silk 
purse out of a sow's ear. If we believe this, 
and do not act upon it by trying to move 
public opinion towards giving social reform, 
education and religion a better material to 
work upon, we are sinning against the light, 
and not doing our best to bring in the King- 
dom of God upon earth." 

As long as sexual activity is regarded in a 
dualistic and contradictory light, in which 
it is revealed either as the instrument by which 
men and women "cooperate with the Creator" 
to bring children into the world, on the one 
hand; and on the other, as the sinful instru- 
ment of self -gratification, lust and sensuality, 
there is bound to be an endless conflict in 


human conduct, producing ever increasing 
misery, pain and injustice. In crystallizing 
and codifying this contradiction, the Church 
not only solidified its own power over men but 
reduced women to the most abject and pros- 
trate slavery. It was essentially a morality 
that would not "work." The sex instinct 
in the human race is too strong to be 
bound by the dictates of any church. 
The church's failure, its century after century 
of failure, is now evident on every side: for, 
having convinced men and women that only 
in its baldly propagative phase is sexual ex- 
pression legitimate, the teachings of the 
Church have driven sex under-ground, into 
secret channels, strengthened the conspiracy 
of silence, concentrated men's thoughts upon 
the ' 'lusts of the body," have sown, cultivated 
and reaped a crop of bodily and mental dis- 
eases, and developed a society congenitally 
a*nd almost hopelessly unbalanced. How is 
any progress to be made, how is any human /. 
expression or education possible when women 
and men are taught to combat and resist their 
natural impulses and to despise their bodily 
functions ? 


Humanity, we are glad to realize, is rapidly 
freeing itself from this "morality" imposed 
upon it by its self-appointed and self -perpet- 
uating masters. From a hundred different 
points the imposing edifice of this "morality" 
has been and is being attacked. Sincere and 
thoughtful defenders and exponents of the 
teachings of Christ now acknowledge the 
falsity of the traditional codes and their ma- 
lignant influence upon the moral and physical 
well-being of humanity. 

Ecclesiastical opposition to Birth Control on 
the part of certain representatives of the Pro- 
testant churches, based usually on quotations 
from the Bible, is equally invalid, and for the 
same reason. The attitude of the more intel- 
ligent and enlightened clergy has been well 
and succinctly expressed by Dean Inge, who, 
referring to the ethics of Birth Control, writes : 
"This is emphatically a matter in which every 
man and woman must judge for themselves, 
and must refrain from judging others." We 
must not neglect the important fact that it is 
not merely in the practical results of such a 
decision, not in the small number of children, 
not even in the healthier and better cared for 


children, not in the possibility of elevating the 
living conditions of the individual family, that 
the ethical value of Birth Control alone lies. 
Precisely because the practice of Birth Control 
does demand the exercise of decision, the mak-\ 
ing of choice, the use of the reasoning powers, 
is it an instrument of moral education as well 
as of hygienic and racial advance. It awakens 
the attention of parents to their potential chil- 
dren. It forces upon the individual con- 
sciousness the question of the standards of liv- 
ing. In a profound manner it protects and 
reasserts the inalienable rights of the child-to- 

Psychology and the outlook of modern life 
are stressing the growth of independent re- 
sponsibility and discrimination as the true basis 
of ethics. The old traditional morality, with 
its train of vice, disease, promiscuity and pros- / 
titution, is in reality dying out, killing itself 
off because it is too irresponsible and too dan- 
gerous to individual and social well-being. 
The transition from the old to the new, like all 
fundamental changes, is fraught with many 
dangers. But it is a revolution that cannot 
be stopped. 


The smaller family, with its lower infant 
mortality rate, is, in more definite and concrete 
manner than many actions outwardly deemed 
"moral," the expression of moral judgment 
and responsibility. It is the assertion of a 
standard of living, inspired by the wish to ob- 
tain a fuller and more expressive life for the 
children than the parents have enjoyed. If 
the morality or immorality of any course of 
conduct is to be determined by the motives 
which inspire it, there is evidently at the present 
day no higher morality than the intelligent 
practice of Birth Control. 

The immorality of many who practise Birth 
Control lies in not daring to preach what they 
practise. What is the secret of the hypocrisy 
of the well-to-do, who are willing to contribute 
generously to charities and philanthropies, who 
spend thousands annually in the upkeep and 
sustenance of the delinquent, the defective and 
the dependent; and yet join the conspiracy of 
silence that prevents the poorer classes from 
learning how to improve their conditions, and 
elevate their standards of living? It is as 
though they were to cry: "We'll give you any- 
thing except the thing you ask for the means 


whereby you may become responsible and self- 
reliant in your own lives." 

The brunt of this injustice falls on women, 
because the old traditional morality is the in- 
vention of men. "No religion, no physical 
or moral code," wrote the clear-sighted George 
Drysdale, "proposed by one sex for the other, 
can be really suitable. Each must work out 
its laws for itself in every department of life." 
In the moral code developed by the Church, 
women have been so degraded that they have 
been habituated to look upon themselves 
through the eyes of men. Very imperfectly 
have women developed their own self-con- 
sciousness, the realization of their tremendous 
and supreme position in civilization. Women 
can develop this power only in one way; by the 
exercise of responsibility, by the exercise of 
judgment, reason or discrimination. They 
need ask for no "rights." They need only as- 
sert power. Only by the exercise of self- 
guidance and intelligent self-direction can 
that inalienable, supreme, pivotal power be 
expressed. More than ever in history women 
need to realize that nothing can ever come to 
us from another. Everything we attain we 


must owe to ourselves. Our own spirit must 
vitalize it. Our own heart must feel it. For 
we are not passive machines. We are not to 
be lectured, guided and molded this way or 
that. We are alive and intelligent, we women, 
no less than men, and we must awaken to the 
essential realization that we are living beings, 
endowed with will, choice, comprehension, and 
that every step in life must be taken at our own 
v initiative. 

> Moral and sexual balance in civilization will 
only be established by the assertion and ex- 
pression of power on the part of women. 
This power will not be found in any futile 
seeking for economic independence or in the 
aping of men in industrial and business pur- 
suits, nor by joining battle for the so-called 
"single standard." Woman's power can only 
be expressed and make itself felt when she 
refuses the task of bringing unwanted children 
into the world to be exploited in industry and 
slaughtered in wars. When we refuse to pro- 
duce battalions of babies to be exploited ; when 
we declare to the nation; "Show us that the best 
possible chance in life is given to every child 
now brought into the world, before you cry 


for more! At present our children are a glut 
on the market. You hold infant life cheap. 
Help us to make the world a fit place for chil- 
dren. When you have done this, we will 
bear you children, then we shall be true 
women." The new morality will express 
this power and responsibility on the part of 

"With the realization of the moral re- 
sponsibility of women," writes Havelock Ellis, 
"the natural relations of life spring back to 
their due biological adjustment. Mother- 
hood is restored to its natural sacredness. It 
becomes the concern of the woman herself, 
and not of society nor any individual, to deter- 
mine the conditions under which the child shall 
be conceived. . . ." 

Moreover, woman shall further assert her <- 
power by refusing to remain the passive instru- 
ment of sensual self -gratification on the part 
of men. Birth Control, in philosophy and 
practice, is the destroyer of that dualism of the 
old sexual code. It denies that the sole pur- 
pose of sexual activity is procreation; it also 
denies that sex should be reduced to the level 
of sensual lust, or that woman should permit 


herself to be the instrument of its satisfaction. 
In increasing and differentiating her love de- 
mands, woman must elevate sex into another 
sphere, whereby it may subserve and enhance 
the possibility of individual and human expres- 
sion. Man will gain in this no less than 
woman; for in the age-old enslavement of 
woman he has enslaved himself; and in the 
liberation of womankind, all of humanity will 
experience the joys of a new and fuller free- 

On this great fundamental and pivotal point 
new light has been thrown by Lord Bertrand 
Dawson, the physician of the King of England. 
In the remarkable and epoch-making address 
at the Birmingham Church Congress (referred 
to in my introduction), he spoke of the 
supreme morality of the mutual and reciprocal 
joy in the most intimate relation between man 
and woman. Without this reciprocity there 
can be no civilization worthy of the name. 
Lord Dawson suggested that there should be 
added to the clauses of marriage in the Prayer 
Book "the complete realization of the love 
of this man and this woman one for another," 
and in support of his contention declared that 


sex love between husband and wife apart 
from parenthood was something to prize and 
cherish for its own sake. The Lambeth Con- 
ference, he remarked, "envisaged a love inver- 
tebrate and joyless," whereas, in his view, 
natural passion in wedlock was not a thing to 
be ashamed of or unduly repressed. The pro- 
nouncement of the Church of England, as set 
forth in Resolution 68 of the Lambeth Con- 
ference seems to imply condemnation of sex 
love as such, and to imply sanction of sex love 
only as a means to an end, namely, 
procreation. The Lambeth Resolution 
stated : 

"In opposition to the teaching which under 
the name of science and religion encourages 
married people in the deliberate cultivation of 
sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly 
uphold what must always be regarded as the 
governing considerations of Christian mar- 
riage. One is the primary purpose for which 
marriage exists namely, the continuation of 
the race through the gift and heritage of chil- 
dren; the other is the paramount importance in 
married life of deliberate and thoughtful self- 


In answer to this point of view Lord Daw- 
son asserted: 

"Sex love has, apart from parenthood, a 
purport of its own. It is something to prize 
and to cherish for its own sake. It is an essen- 
tial part of health and happiness in marriage. 
And now, if you will allow me, I will carry this 
argument a step further. If sexual union is 
a gift of God it is worth learning how to use it. 
Within its own sphere it should be cultivated 
so as to bring physical satisfaction to both, not 
merely to one. . . . The real problems before 
us are those of sex love and child love ; and by 
sex love I mean that love which involves inter- 
course or the desire for such. It is necessary 
to my argument to emphasize that sex love is 
one of the dominating forces of the world. 
Not only does history show the destinies of 
nations and dynasties determined by its sway 
but here in our every-day life we see its in- 
fluence, direct or indirect, forceful and ubiqui- 
tous beyond aught else. Any statesmanlike 
view, therefore, will recognize that here we 
have an instinct so fundamental, so imperious, 
that its influence is a fact which has to be ac- 
cepted; suppress it you cannot. You may 


guide it into healthy channels, but an outlet it 
will have, and if that outlet is inadequate and 
unduly obstructed irregular channels will be 
forced. . . . 

"The attainment of mutual and reciprocal 
joy in their relations constitutes a firm bond 
between two people, and makes for durability 
of the marriage tie. Reciprocity in sex love is 
the physical counterpart of sympathy. More 
marriages fail from inadequate and clumsy sex 
love than from too much sex love. The lack 
of proper understanding is in no small meas- 
ure responsible for the unfulfilment of con- 
nubial happiness, and every degree of discon- 
tent and unhappiness may, from this cause, 
occur, leading to rupture of the marriage bond 
itself. How often do medical men have to 
deal with these difficulties, and how fortunate 
if such difficulties are disclosed early enough in 
married life to be rectified. Otherwise how 
tragic may be their consequences, and many a 
case in the Divorce Court has thus had its ori- 
gin. To the foregoing contentions, it might 
be objected, you are encouraging passion. My 
reply would be, passion is a worthy possession 
most men, who are any good, are capable of 


passion. You all enjoy ardent and passion- 
ate love in art and literature. Why not give 
it a place in real life? Why some people look 
askance at passion is because they are confus- 
ing it with sensuality. Sex love without pas- 
sion is a poor, lifeless thing. Sensuality, on 
the other hand, is on a level with gluttony a 
physical excess detached from sentiment, 
chivalry, or tenderness. It is just as impor- 
tant to give sex love its place as to avoid its 
over-emphasis. Its real and effective restraints 
are those imposed by a loving and sympathetic 
companionship, by the privileges of parent- 
hood, the exacting claims of career and that 
civic sense which prompts men to do social serv- 
ice. Now that the revision of the Prayer 
Book is receiving consideration, I should like 
to suggest with great respect an addition made 
to the objects of marriage in the Marriage 
Service, in these terms, 'The complete realiza- 
tion of the love of this man and this woman, 
the one for the other.' " 

Turning to the specific problem of Birth 
Control, Lord Dawson declared, "that Birth 
Control is here to stay. It is an established 
fact, and for good or evil has to be accepted. 


Although the extent of its application can be 
and is being modified, no denunciations will 
abolish it. Despite the influence and condem- 
nations of the Church, it has been practised in 
France for well over half a century, and in 
Belgium and other Roman Catholic countries 
is extending. And if the Roman Catholic 
Church, with its compact organization, its 
power of authority, and its disciplines, cannot 
check this procedure, it is not likely that Prot- 
estant Churches will be able to do so, for Prot- 
estant religions depend for their strength on 
the conviction and esteem they establish in the 
heads and hearts of their people. The reasons 
which lead parents to limit their offspring are 
sometimes selfish, but more often honorable 
and cogent." 

A report of the Fabian Society 5 on the 
morality of Birth Control, based upon a census 
conducted under the chairmanship of Sidney 
Webb, concludes: "These facts which we 
are bound to face whether we like them or not 
will appear in different lights to different 
people. In some quarters it seems to be suf- 
ficient to dismiss them with moral indignation, 

s Fabian Tract No. 131. 


real or simulated. Such a judgment appears 
both irrelevant and futile. ... If a course 
of conduct is habitually and deliberately pur- 
sued by vast multitudes of otherwise well-con- 
ducted people, forming probably a majority 
of the whole educated class of the nation, we 
must assume that it does not conflict with their 
actual code of morality. They may be intel- 
lectually mistaken, but they are not doing 
what they feel to be wrong." 

The moral justification and ethical ne- 
cessity of Birth Control need not be empiri- 
cally based upon the mere approval of experi- 
ence and custom. Its morality is more pro- 
found. Birth Control is an ethical necessity 
for humanity to-day hecause it places in our 
hands a new instrument of self-expression and 
self-realization. It gives us control over one 
of the primordial forces of nature, to which in 
the past the majority of mankind have been 
enslaved, and by which it has been cheap- 
ened and debased. It arouses us to the pos- 
sibility of newer and greater freedom. It de- 
velops the power, the responsibility and intelli- 
gence to use this freedom in living a liberated 
and abundant life. It permits us to enjoy this 


liberty without danger of infringing upon the 
similar liberty of our fellow men, or of injur- 
ing and curtailing the freedom of the next gen- 
eration. It shows us that we need not seek in 
the amassing of worldly wealth, nor in the illu- 
sion of some extra-terrestrial Heaven or earthly 
Utopia of a remote future the road to hu- 
man development. The Kingdom of Heaven 
is in a very definite sense within us. Not by 
leaving our body and our fundamental human- 
ity behind us, not by aiming to be anything but 
what we are, shall we become ennobled or im- 
mortal. By knowing ourselves, by expressing 
ourselves, by realizing ourselves more com- 
pletely than has ever before been possible, not 
only shall we attain the kingdom ourselves but 
we shall hand on the torch of life undimmed 
to our children and the children of our children. 



"There is but one hope. Ignorance, poverty, and 
vice must stop populating the world. This cannot be 
done by moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or 
example. This cannot be done by religion or by law, 
by priest or by hangman. This cannot be done by 
force, physical or moral. To accomplish this there is 
but one way. Science must make woman the owner, the 
mistress of herself. Science, the only possible savior 
of mankind, must put it in the power of woman to 
decide for herself whether she will or will not become 
a mother." 

Robert G. Ingersoll 

"SCIENCE is the great instrument of social 
change," wrote A. J. Balfour in 1908; "all 
the greater because its object is not change but 
knowledge, and its silent appropriation of this 
dominant function, amid the din of religious 
and political strife, is the most vital of all rev- 
olutions which have marked the development 
of modern civilization." The Birth Control 



movement has allied itself with science, and 
no small part of its present propaganda is to 
awaken the interest of scientists to the pivotal 
importance to civilization of this instrument. 
Only with the aid of science is it possible to 
perfect a practical method that may be uni- 
versally taught. As Dean Inge recently ad- 
mitted: "We should be ready to give up all 
our theories if science proved that we were on 
the wrong lines." 

- v One of the principal aims of the American 
Birth Control League has been to awaken the 
interest of scientific investigators and to point 
out the rich field for original research opened 
up by this problem. The correlation of reck- 
less breeding with defective and delinquent 
strains, has not, strangely enough, been sub- 
jected to close scientific scrutiny, nor has the 
present biological unbalance been traced to its 
root. This is a crying necessity of our day, 
and it cannot be accomplished without the aid 
of science. 

Secondary only to the response of women 
themselves is the awakened interest of scien- 
tists, statisticians, and research workers in 
every field. If the clergy and the defenders 


of traditional morality have opposed the move- 
ment for Birth Control, the response of en- 
lightened scientists and physicians has been 
one of the most encouraging aids in our battle. 

Recent developments in the realm of science, 
in psychology, in physiology, in chemistry 
and physics all tend to emphasize the imme- 
diate necessity for human control over the great 
forces of nature. The new ideas published by 
contemporary science are of the utmost fas- 
cination and illumination even to the layman. 
They perform the invaluable task of making 
us look at life in a new light, of searching close 
at hand for the solution to heretofore closed 
mysteries of life. In this brief chapter, I can 
touch these ideas only as they have proved 
valuable to me. Professor Soddy's "Science 
and Life" is one of the most inspiring of recent 
publications in this field ; for this great author- 
ity shows us how closely bound up is science 
with the whole of Society, how science must 
help to solve the great and disastrous unbalance 
in human society. 

As an example: a whole literature has 
sprung into being around the glands, the most 


striking being "The Sex Complex" by Blair 
Bell. This author advances the idea of the 
glandular system as an integral whole, the 
glands forming a unity which might be termed 
the generative system. Thus is reasserted the 
radical importance of sexual health to every 
individual. The whole tendency of modern 
physiology and psychology, in a word, seems 
gradually coming to the truth that seemed in- 
tuitively to be revealed to that great woman, 
Olive Schreiner, who, in "Woman and Labor" 
wrote: ". . . Noble is the function of physi- 
cal reproduction of humanity by the union of 
man and woman. Rightly viewed, that union 
has in it latent, other and even higher forms 
of creative energy and life-dispensing power, 
and ... its history on earth has only begun; 
as the first wild rose when it hung from its 
stem with its center of stamens and pistils and 
its single whorl of pale petals had only begun 
its course, and was destined, as the ages passed, 
to develop stamen upon stamen and petal upon 
petal, till it assumed a hundred forms of joy 
and beauty. 

"And it would indeed almost seem, that, on 


the path toward the higher development of 
sexual life on earth, as man has so often had 
to lead in other paths, that here it is perhaps 
woman, by reason of those very sexual condi- 
tions which in the past have crushed and tram- 
meled her, who is bourrd to lead the way and 
man to follow. So that it may be at last that 
sexual love that tired angel who through the 
ages has presided over the march of human- 
ity, with distraught eyes, and feather-shafts 
broken and wings drabbled in the mires of lust 
and greed, and golden locks caked over with 
the dust of injustice and oppression till those 
looking at him have sometimes cried in terror, 
'He is the Evil and not the Good of life' : and 
have sought if it were not possible, to exter- 
minate him shall yet, at last, bathed from the 
mire and dust of ages in the streams of friend- 
ship and freedom, leap upwards, with white 
wings spread, resplendent in the sunshine of a 
distant future the essentially Good and 
Beautiful of human existence." 

To-day science is verifying the truth of this 
inspiring vision. Certain fundamental truths 
concerning the basic facts of Nature and hu- 
manity especially impress us. A rapid survey 


may indicate the main features of this mysteri- 
ous identity and antagonism. 

Mankind has gone forward by the capture 
and control of the forces of Nature. This up- 
ward struggle began with the kindling of the 
first fire. The domestication of animal life 
marked another great step in the long ascent. 
The capture of the great physical forces, the 
discovery of coal and mineral oil, of gas, steam 
and electricity, and their adaptation to the 
everyday uses of mankind, wrought the great- 
est changes in the course of civilization. With 
the discovery of radium and radioactivity, 
with the recognition of the vast stores of physi- 
cal energy concealed in the atom, humanity is 
now on the eve of a new conquest. But, on 
the other side, humanity has been compelled 
to comjbat continuously those great forces of 
Nature which have opposed it at every mo- 
ment of this long indomitable march out of 
barbarism. Humanity has had to wage war 
against insects, germs, bacteria, which have 
spread disease and epidemics and devastation. 
Humanity has had to adapt itself to those 
natural forces it could not conquer but could 
only adroitly turn to its own ends. Neverthe- 


less, all along the line, in colonization, in agri- 
culture, in medicine and in industry, mankind 
has triumphed over Nature. 

But lest the recognition of this victory lead 
us to self-satisfaction and complacency, we 
should never forget that this mastery consists 
to a great extent in a recognition of the power 
of those blind forces, and our adroit control 
over them. It has been truly said that we at- 
tain no power over Nature until we learn 
natural laws and conform and adapt ourselves 
to them. 

The strength of the human race has been its 
ability not merely to subjugate the forces of 
Nature, but to adapt itself to those it could 
not conquer. And even this subjugation, sci- 
ence tells us, has not resulted from any at- 
tempt to suppress, prohibit, or eradicate these 
forces, but rather to transform blind and un- 
directed energies to our own purposes. 

These great natural forces, science now as- 
serts, are not all external. They are surely 
concealed within the complex organism of the 
human being no less than outside of it. These 
inner forces are no less imperative, no less driv- 
ing and compelling than the external forces 


of Nature. As the old conception of the antag- 
onism between body and soul is broken down, 
as psychology becomes an ally of physiology 
and biology, and biology joins hands with 
physics and chemistry, we are taught to see 
that there is a mysterious unity between these 
inner and outer forces. They express them- 
selves in accordance with the same structural, 
physical and chemical laws. The develop- 
ment of civilization in the subjective world, in 
the sphere of behavior, conduct and morality, 
has been precisely the gradual accumulation 
and popularization of methods which teach 
people how to direct, transform and transmute 
the driving power of the great natural forces. 
Psychology is now recognizing the forces 
concealed in the human organism. In the long 
process of adaptation to social life, men have 
had to harness the wishes and desires born of 
these inner energies, the greatest and most im- 
perative of which are Sex and Hunger. From 
the beginning of time, men have been driven 
by Hunger into a thousand activities. It is 
Hunger that has created "the struggle for ex- 
istence." Hunger has spurred men to the dis- 
covery and invention of methods and ways of 


avoiding starvation, of storing and exchanging 
foods. It has developed primitive barter into 
our contemporary Wall Streets. It has de- 
veloped thrift and economy, expedients 
whereby humanity avoids the lash of King 
Hunger. The true "economic interpretation 
of history" might be termed the History of 

But no less fundamental, no less impera- 
tive, no less ceaseless in its dynamic energy, has 
been the great force of Sex. We do not yet 
know the intricate but certainly organic re- 
lationship between these two forces. It is ob- 
vious that they oppose yet reinforce each other, 
driving, lashing, spurring mankind on to 
new conquests or to certain ruin. Perhaps 
Hunger and Sex are merely opposite poles of 
a single great life force. In the past we 
have made the mistake of separating them 
and attempting to study one of them without 
the other. Birth Control emphasizes the need 
of re-investigation and of knowledge of their 
integral relationship, and aims at the solution 
of the great problem of Hunger and Sex at 
one and the same time. 

In the more recent past the effort has 


been made to control, civilize and sublimate 
the great primordial natural force of sex, 
mainly by futile efforts at prohibition, suppres- 
sion, restraint, and extirpation. Its revenge, 
as the psychoanalysts are showing us every 
day, has been great. Insanity, hysteria, neur- 
oses, morbid fears and compulsions, weaken 
and render useless and unhappy thousands of 
humans who are unconscious victims of the at- 
tempt to pit individual powers against this 
great natural force. In the solution of the 
problem of sex, we should bear in mind what 
the successful method of humanity has been 
in its conquest, or rather its control of the 
great physical and chemical forces of the ex- 
ternal world. Like all other energy, that of 
sex is indestructible. By adaptation, control 
and conscious direction, we may transmute 
and sublimate it. Without irreparable injury 
to ourselves we cannot attempt to eradicate 
it or extirpate it. 

The study of atomic energy, the discovery 
of radioactivity, and the recognition of poten- 
tial and latent energies stored in inanimate 
matter, throw a brilliant illumination upon the 
whole problem of sex and the inner energies 


of mankind. Speaking of the discovery of 
radium, Professor Soddy writes: "Tracked to 
earth the clew to a great secret for which a 
thousand telescopes might have swept the sky 
forever and in vain, lay in a scrap of matter, 
dowered with something of the same inexhaust- 
ible radiance that hitherto has been the sole 
prerogative of the distant stars and sun." 
Radium, this distinguished authority tells us, 
has clothed with its own dignity the whole em- 
pire of common matter. 

Much as the atomic theory, with its revela- 
tions of the vast treasure house of radiant en- 
ergy that lies all about us, offers new hope in 
the material world, so the new psychology 
throws a new light upon human energies and 
possibilities of individual expression. Social 
reformers, like those scientists of a bygone era 
who were sweeping the skies with their tele- 
scopes, have likewise been seeking far and wide 
for the solution of our social problems in re- 
mote and wholesale panaceas, whereas the 
true solution is close at hand, in the human 
individual. Buried within each human being 
lies concealed a vast store of energy, which 
awaits release, expression and sublimation. 


The individual may profitably be considered 
as the "atom" of society. And the solution 
of the problems of society and of civilization 
will be brought about when we release the en- 
ergies now latent and undeveloped in the in- 
dividual. Professor Edwin Grant Conklin 
expresses the problem in another form ; though 
his analogy, it seems to me, is open to serious 
criticism. "The freedom of the individual 
man," he writes, 1 "is to that of society as the 
freedom of the single cell is to that of the 
human being. It is this large freedom of so- 
ciety, rather than the freedom of the individ- 
ual, which democracy offers to the world, free 
societies, free states, free nations rather than 
absolutely free individuals. In all organisms 
and in all social organizations, the freedom of 
the minor units must be limited in order that 
the larger unit may achieve a new and greater 
freedom, and in social evolution the freedom of 
individuals must be merged more and more 
into the larger freedom of society." 

This analogy does not bear analysis. Re- 
straint and constraint of individual expression, 
suppression of individual freedom "for the 

i Conklin, The Direction of Human Evolution, pp. 125, 126, 


good of society" has been practised from time 
immemorial; and its failure is all too evident. 
There is no antagonism between the good of 
the individual and the good of society. The 
moment civilization is wise enough to remove 
the constraints and prohibitions which now 
hinder the release of inner energies, most of the 
larger evils of society will perish of inanition 
and malnutrition. Remove the moral taboos 
that now bind the human body afid spirit, free 
the individual from the slavery of tradition, 
remove the chains of fear from men and 
women, above all answer their unceasing cries 
for knowledge that would make possible their 
self-direction and salvation, and in so doing, 
you best serve the interests of society at large. 
Free, rational and self-ruling personality 
would then take the place of self-made slaves, 
who are the victims both of external con- 
straints and the playthings of the uncontrolled 
forces of their own instincts. 

Science likewise illuminates the whole prob- 
lem of genius. Hidden in the common stuff 
of humanity lies buried this power of self-ex- 
pression. Modern science is teaching us that 
genius is not some mysterious gift of the gods, 


some treasure conferred upon individuals 
chosen by chance. Nor is it, as Lombroso be- 
lieved, the result of a pathological and degen- 
erate condition, allied to criminality and mad- 
ness. Rather is it due to the removal of phy- 
siological and psychological inhibitions and 
constraints which makes possible the release 
and the channeling of the primordial inner 
energies of man into full and divine expres- 
sion. The removal of these inhibitions, so 
scientists assure us, makes possible more rapid 
and profound perceptions, so rapid indeed 
that they seem to the ordinary human being, 
practically instantaneous, or intuitive. The 
qualities of genius are not, therefore, qualities 
lacking in the common reservoir of humanity, 
but rather the unimpeded release and direction 
of powers latent in all of us. This process of 
course is not necessarily conscious.. 

This view is substantiated by the opposite 
problem of feeble-mindedness. Recent re- 
searches throw a new light on this problem and 
the contrasting one of human genius. Mental 
defect and feeble-mindedness are conceived es- 
sentially as retardation, arrest of development, 
differing in degree so that the victim is either 


an idiot, an imbecile, feeble-minded or a moron, 
according to the relative period at which men- 
tal development ceases. 

Scientific research into the functioning of 
the ductless glands and their secretions throws 
a new light on this problem. Not long ago 
these glands were a complete enigma, owing to 
the fact that they are not provided with excre- 
tory ducts. It has just recently been shown 
that these organs, such as the thyroid, the pit- 
uitary, the suprarenal, the parathyroid and the 
reproductive glands, exercise an all-powerful 
influence upon the course of individual de- 
velopment or deficiency. Gley, to whom we 
owe much of our knowledge of glandular ac- 
tion, has asserted that "the genesis and exercise 
of the higher faculties of men are conditioned 
by the purely chemical action of the product 
of these secretions. Let psychologists con- 
sider these facts." 

These internal secretions or endocrines pass 
directly into the blood stream, and exercise a 
dominating power over health and personality. 
Deficiency in the thyroid secretion, especially 
during the years of infancy and early child- 
hood, creates disorders of nutrition and inac- 


tivity of the nervous system. The particular 
form of idiocy known as cretinism is the result 
of this deficiency, which produces an arrest of 
the development of the brain cells. The other 
glands and their secretions likewise exercise 
the most profound influence upon development, 
growth and assimilation. Most of these glands 
are of very small size, none of them larger 
than a walnut, and some the parathyroids 
almost microscopic. Nevertheless, they are 
essential to the proper maintenance of life in 
the body, and no less organically related to 
mental and psychic development as well. 

The reproductive glands, it should not be 
forgotten, belong to this group, and besides 
their ordinary products, the germ and sperm 
cells ( ova and spermatoza) form hormones 
which circulate in the blood and effect changes 
in the cells of distant parts of the body. 
Through these hormones the secondary sexual 
characters are produced, including the many 
differences in the form and structure of the 
body which are the characteristics of the sexes. 
Only in recent years has science discovered 
that these secondary sexual characters are 
brought about by the agency of these internal 


secretions or hormones, passed from the re- 
productive glands into the circulating blood. 
These so-called secondary characters which 
are the sign of full and healthy development, 
are dependent, science tells us, upon the state 
of development of the reproductive organs. 

For a clear and illuminating account of the 
creative and dynamic power of the endocrine 
glands, the layman is referred to a recently 
published book by Dr. Louis Berman. 2 This 
authority reveals anew how body and soul are 
bound up together in a complex unity. Our 
spiritual and psychic difficulties cannot be 
solved until we have mastered the knowledge 
of the wellsprings of our being. "The chem- 
istry of the soul! Magnificent phrase!" ex- 
claims Dr. Berman. "It's a long, long way to 
that goal. The exact formula is as yet far 
beyond our reach. But we have started 
upon the long journey, and we shall get 

"The internal secretions constitute and de- 
termine much of the inherited powers of the 

2 The Glands Regulating Personality: A study of the glands 
of internal secretion in relation to the types of human nature. 
By Louis Berman, M. D., Associate in Biological Chemistry, 
Columbia University; Physician to the Special Health Clinic. 
Lenox Hill Hospital. New York: 1921. 


individual and their development. They con- 
trol physical and mental growth, and all the 
metabolic processes of fundamental impor- 
tance. They dominate all the vital functions 
of man during the three cycles of life. They 
cooperate in an intimate relationship which 
may be compared to an interlocking directo- 
rate. A derangement of their functions, caus- 
ing an insufficiency of them, an excess, or an 
abnormality, upsets the entire equilibrium of 
the body, with transforming effects upon the 
mind and the organs. In short, they control 
human nature, and whoever controls them, 
controls human nature. . . . 

"Blood chemistry of our time is a marvel, 
undreamed of a generation ago. Also, these 
achievements are a perfect example of the ac- 
complished fact contradicting a prior predic- 
tion and criticism. For it was one of the ac- 
cepted dogmas of the nineteenth century that 
the phenomena of living could never be sub- 
jected to accurate quantitative analysis." But 
the ethical dogmas of the past, no less than the 
scientific, may block the way to true civiliza- 

Physiologically as well as psychologically the 


development of the human being, the sane 
mind in the sound body, is absolutely depend- 
ent upon the functioning and exercise of all 
the organs of the body. The "moralists" who 
preach abstinence, self-denial, and suppression 
are relegated by these findings of impartial 
and disinterested science to the class of those 
educators of the past who taught that it was 
improper for young ladies to indulge in sports 
and athletics and who produced generations of 
feeble, undeveloped invalids, bound up by stays 
and addicted to swooning and hysterics. One 
need only go out on the street of any American 
city to-day to be confronted with the victims 
of the cruel morality of self-denial and "sin." 
This fiendish "morality" is stamped upon those 
emaciated bodies, indelibly written in those 
emasculated, underdeveloped, undernourished 
figures of men and women, in the nervous ten- 
sion and unrelaxed muscles denoting the cease- 
less vigilance in restraining and suppressing 
the expression of natural impulses. 

Birth Control is no negative philosophy con- 
cerned solely with the number of children 
brought into this world. It is not merely a 
question of population. Primarily it is the in- 


strument of liberation and of human develop-^ 

It points the way to a morality in which 
sexual expression and human development will 
not be in conflict *with the interest and well- 
being of the race nor of contemporary society 
at large. Not only is it the most effective, in 
fact the only lever by which the value of the 
child can (be raised to a civilized point ; but it 
is likewise the only method by which the life 
of the individual can be deepened and strength- 
ened, by which an inner peace and security and 
beauty may be substituted for the inner con- 
flict that is at present so fatal to self-expres- 
sion and self-realization. 

Sublimation of the sexual instinct cannot 
take place by denying it expression, nor by re- 
ducing it to the plane of the purely physiologi- 
cal. Sexual experience, to be of contributory 
value, must be integrated and assimilated. 
Asceticism defeats its own purpose because it 
develops the obsession of licentious and obscene 
thoughts, the victim alternating between tem- 
porary victory over "sin" and the remorse of 
defeat. But (the seeker of purely .physical 
pleasure, the libertine or the average sensualist, 


is no less a pathological case, living as one- 
sided and unbalanced a life as the ascetic, for 
his conduct is likewise based on ignorance and 
lack of understanding. In seeking pleasure 
without the exercise of responsibility, in trying 
to get something for nothing, he is not merely 
cheating others but himself as well. 

In still another field science and scientific 
method now emphasize the pivotal importance 
of Birth Control. The Binet-Simon intelli- 
gence tests which have been developed, ex- 
panded, and applied to large groups of chil- 
dren and adults present positive statistical data 
concerning the mental equipment of the type 
of children brought into the world under the in- 
fluence of indiscriminate fecundity and of 
those fortunate children who have been brought 
into the world because they are wanted, the 
children of conscious, voluntary procreation, 
well nourished, properly clothed, the recipi- 
ents of all that proper care and love can accom- 

In considering the data furnished by these 
intelligence tests we should remember several 
factors that should be taken into consideration. 
Irrespective of other considerations, children 


who are underfed, undernourished, crowded 
into badly ventilated and unsanitary homes and 
chronically hungry cannot be expected to at- 
tain the mental development of children upon 
whom every advantage of intelligent and scien- 
tific care is bestowed. Furthermore, public 
school methods of dealing with children, the 
course of studies prescribed, may quite com- 
pletely fail to awaken and develop the intel- 

The statistics indicate at any rate a surpris- 
ingly low rate of intelligence among the classes 
in which large families and uncontrolled pro- 
creation predominate. Those of the lowest 
grade in intelligence are born of unskilled 
laborers (with the highest birth rate in the 
community) ; the next high among the skilled 
laborers, and so on to the families of profes- 
sional people, among whom it is now admitted 
that the birth rate is voluntarily controlled. 3 < 

But scientific investigations of this type can- 
not be complete until statistics are accurately 
obtained concerning the relation of unre- 

3Cf Terman: Intelligence of School Children. New York 
1919. p. 56. Also, "Is America Safe for Democracy?" Six 
lectures given at the Lowell Institute of Boston, by William 
McDougall, Professor of Psychology in Harvard College, 
New York, 1921, 


strained fecundity and the quality, mental and 
physical, of the children produced. The phil- 
osophy of Birth Control therefore seeks and 
asks the cooperation of science and scientists, 
not to strengthen its own "case," but because 
this sexual factor in the determination of 
human history has so long been ignored by his- 
torians and scientists. If science in recent 
years has contributed enormously to strengthen 
the conviction of all intelligent people of the 
necessity and wisdom of Birth Control, this 
philosophy in its turn opens to .science in its 
various fields a suggestive avenue of approach 
to many of those problems of humanity and 
society which at present seem so enigmatical 
and insoluble. 



"Civilization is bound up with the success of that 
movement. The man who rejoices in it and strives to 
further it is alive; the man who shudders and raises 
impotent hands against it is merely dead, even though 
the grave yet yawns for him in vain. He may make 
dead laws and preach dead sermons and his sermons 
may be great and his laws may be rigid. But as the 
wisest of men saw twenty-five centuries ago, the things 
that are great and strong and rigid are the things that 
stay below in the grave. It is the things that are 
delicate and tender and supple that stay above. At no 
point is life so tender and delicate and supple as at the 
point of sex. There is the Triumph of Life." 

Havelock Ellis 

OUR approach opens to us a fresh scale of 
values, a new and effective method of testing 
the merits and demerits of current policies and 
programs. It redirects our attention to the 
great source and fountainhead of human life. 
It offers us the most strategic point of view 



from which to observe and study the unending 
drama of humanity, how the past, the present 
and the future of the human race are all organ- 
ically bound up together. It coordinates he- 
redity and environment. Most important of 
all, it frees the mind of sexual prejudice and 
taboo, by demanding the frankest and most 
unflinching reexamination of sex in its rela- 
tion to human nature and the bases of human 
society. In aiding to establish this mental lib- 
eration, quite apart from any of the tangible 
results that might please the statistically- 
minded, the study of Birth Control is perform- 
ing an invaluable task. Without complete 
; mental freedom, it is impossible to approach 
; any fundamental human problem. Failure to 
face the great central facts of sex in an impar- 
tial and scientific spirit lies at the root of the 
blind opposition to Birth Control. 

Our bitterest opponents must agree that the 
problem of Birth Control is one of the most 
important that humanity to-day has to face. 
The interests 0f the entire world, of humanity, 
of the future of mankind itself are more at 
stake in this than in wars, political institutions, 


or industrial reorganization. All other pro- 
jects of reform, of revolution or reconstruction, 
are of secondary importance, even trivial, when 
we compare them to the wholesale regenera- 
tion or disintegration that is bound up with 
the control, the direction and the release of one 
of the greatest forces in nature. The great 
danger at present does not lie with the bitter 
opponents of the idea of Birth Control, nor 
with those who are attempting to suppress 
our program of enlightenment and education. 
Such opposition is always stimulating. It wins 
new adherents. It reveals its own weakness 
and lack of insight. The greater danger is to 
be found in the flaccid, undiscriminating inter- 
est of "sympathizers" who are "for it" as an 
accessory to their own particular panacea. "It 
even seems, sometimes," wrote the late William 
Graham Sumner, "as if the primitive people 
were working along better lines of effort in 
this direction than we are . . . when our pub- 
lic organs of instruction taboo all that pertains 
to reproduction as improper; and when pub- 
lic authority, ready enough to interfere with 
personal liberty everywhere else, feels bound 


to act as if there were no societal interest at 
stake in the begetting of the next generation." 

Slowly but surely we are breaking down 
the taboos that surround sex; but we are 
breaking them down out of sheer necessity. 
The codes that have surrounded sexual behav- 
ior in the so-called Christian communities, the 
teachings of the churches concerning chastity 
and sexual purity, the prohibitions of the laws, 
and the hypocritical conventions of society, 
have all demonstrated their failure as safe- 
guards against the chaos produced and the 
havoc wrought by the failure to recognize 
sex as a driving force in human nature, as 
great as, if indeed not greater than, hunger. 
Its dynamic energy is indestructible. It may 
be transmuted, refined, directed, even subli- 
mated, but to ignore, to neglect, to refuse to 
recognize this great elemental force is noth- 
ing less than foolhardy. 

Out of the unchallenged policies of conti- 
nence, abstinence, "chastity" and "purity," we 
have reaped the harvests ctf prostitution, ve- 
nereal scourges and innumerable other evils. 
Traditional moralists have failed to recognize 

i Folkways, p. 492, 


that chastity and purity must be the outward 
symptoms of awakened intelligence, of satis- 
fied desires, and fulfilled love. They cannot 
be taught by "sex education." They cannot 
be imposed from without by a denial of the 
might and the right of sexual expression. 
Nevertheless, even in the contemporary teach- 
ing of sex hygiene and social prophylaxis, noth- 
ing constructive is offered to young men and 
young women who seek aid through the try- 
ing period of adolescence. 

At the Lambeth Conference of 1920, the 
Bishops of the Church of England stated in 
their report on their considerations of sexual 
morality: "Men should regard all women as 
they do their mothers, sisters, and daughters; 
and women should dress only in such a manner 
as to command respect from every man. All 
right-minded persons should unite in the sup- 
pression of pernicious literature, plays and 
films. ..." Could lack of psychological in- 
sight and understanding be more completely 
indicated? Yet, like these bishops, most of 
those who are undertaking the education of 
the young are as ignorant themselves of psy- 
chology and physiology. Indeed, those who 


are speaking belatedly of the need of "sexual 
hygiene" seem to be unaware that they them- 
selves are most in need of it. "We must give 
up the futile attempt to keep young people in 
the dark," cries Rev. James Marchant in 
"Birth-Rate and Empire," "and the assump- 
tion that they are ignorant of notorious facts. 
We cannot, if we would, stop the spread of 
sexual knowledge; and if we could do so, we 
would only make matters infinitely worse. 
This is the second decade of the twentieth 
century, not the early Victorian period. . . . 
It is no longer a question of knowing or not 
knowing. We have to disabuse our middle- 
aged minds of that fond delusion. Our young 
people know more than we did when we be- 
gan our married lives, and sometimes as much 
as we know, ourselves, even now. So that we 
need not continue to shake our few remaining 
hairs in simulating feelings of surprise or 
horror. It might have been better for us if 
we had been more enlightened. And if our 
discussion of this problem is to be of any real 
use, we must at the outset reconcile ourselves 
to the fact that the birth-rate is voluntarily 
controlled. . , . "Certain persons who instruct 


us in these matter, hold up their piou's hands 
and whiten their frightened faces as they cry 
out in the public squares against 'this vice,' 
but they can only make themselves ridicu- 

Taught upon the basis of conventional and 
traditional morality and middle-class respec- 
tability, based on current dogma, and handed 
down to the populace with benign condescen- 
sion, sex education is a waste of time and effort. 
Such education cannot in any true sense set 
up as a standard the ideal morality and be- 
havior of the respectable middle-class and then 
make the effort to induce all other members 
of society, especially the working classes, to 
conform to their taboos. Such a method is 
not only confusing, but, in the creation of 
strain and hysteria and an unhealthy concen- 
tration upon moral conduct, results in positive 
injury. To preach a negative and colorless 
ideal of chastity to young men and women 
is to neglect the primary duty of awakening 
their intelligence, their responsibility, their 
self-reliance and independence. Once this is 
accomplished, the matter of chastity will take 
care of itself. The teaching of "etiquette" 


must be superseded by the teaching of hygiene. 
Hygienic habits are built up upon a sound 
knowledge of bodily needs and functions. It 
is only in the sphere of sex that there remains 
an unfounded fear of presenting without the 
gratuitous introduction of non-essential taboos 
and prejudice, unbiased and unvarnished facts. 

As an instrument of education, the doctrine 
of Birth Control approaches the whole prob- 
lem in another manner. Instead o*f laying 
down hard and fast laws of sexual conduct, 
instead of attempting to inculcate rules and 
regulations, of pointing out the rewards of 
virtue and the penalties of "sin" (as is usu- 
ally attempted in relation to the venereal dis- 
eases), the teacher of Birth Control seeks to 
meet the needs of the people. Upon the basis 
of their interests, their demands, their prob- 
lems, Birth Control education attempts to 
develop their intelligence and show them how 
they may help themselves; how to guide and 
control this deep-rooted instinct. 

The objection has been raised that Birth 
Control only reaches the already enlightened, 
the men and women who have already attained 


a degree of self-respect and self-reliance. 
Such an objection could not be based on fact. 
Even in the most unenlightened sections of the 
community, among mothers crushed by pov- 
erty and economic enslavement, there is the 
realization of the evils of the too-large family, 
of the rapid succession of pregnancy after 
pregnancy, of the hopelessness of bringing too 
many children into the world. Not merely 
in the evidence presented in an earlier chapter 
but in other ways, is this crying need ex- 
pressed. The investigators of the Children's 
Bureau who collected the data of the infant 
mortality reports, noted the willingness and 
the eagerness with which these down-trodden 
mothers told the truth about themselves. So 
great is their hope of relief from that mean- 
ingless and deadening submission to unpro- 
ductive reproduction, that only a society pruri- 
ently devoted to hypocrisy could refuse to 
listen to the voices of these mothers. Re- 
spectfully we lend our ears to dithyrambs 
about the sacredness of motherhood and the 
value of "better babies" but we shut our eyes 
and our ears to the unpleasant reality and the 


cries of pain that come from women who 
are to-day dying by the thousands because 
this power is withheld from them. 

This situation is rendered more bitterly 
ironic because the self-righteous opponents of 
Birth Control practise themselves the doctrine 
they condemn. The birth-rate among con- 
servative opponents indicates that they re- 
strict the numbers of their own children by 
the methods of Birth Control, or are of such 
feeble procreative energy as to be thereby un- 
fitted to dictate moral laws for other people. 
They prefer that we should think their small 
number of children is accidental, rather than 
publicly admit the successful practice of in- 
telligent foresight. Or else they hold them- 
selves up as paragons of virtue and self-con- 
trol, and would have us believe that they have 
brought their children into the world solely 
from a high, stern sense of public duty an 
attitude which is about as convincing as it 
would be to declare that they found them under 
gooseberry bushes. How else can we explain 
the widespread tolerance and smug appoval 
of the clerical idea of sex, now reenforced by 
floods of crude and vulgar sentiment, which is 


promulgated by the press, motion-pictures and 
popular plays? 

Like all other education, that of sex can be 
rendered effective and valuable only as it meets 
and satisfies the interests and demands of the 
pupil himself. It cannot be imposed from 
without, handed down from above, superim- 
posed upon the intelligence of the person 
taught. It must find a response within him, 
give him the power and the instrument where- 
with he may exercise his own growing intelli- 
gence, bring into action his own judgment and 
discrimination and thus contribute to the 
growth of his intelligence. The civilized world 
is coming to see that education cannot consist 
merely in the assimilation of external informa- 
tion and knowledge, but rather in the awaken- 
ing and development of innate powers of dis- 
crimination and judgment. The great disas- 4 
ter of "sex education" lies in the fact that it 
fails to direct the awakened interests of the 
pupils into the proper channels of exercise and 
development. Instead, it blunts them, re- 
stricts them, hinders them, and even attempts 
to eradicate them. 

This has been the great defect of sex educa- 


tion as it has been practised in recent years. 
Based on a superficial and shameful view of 
the sexual instinct, it has sought the inculca- 
tion of negative virtues by pointing out the 
sinister penalties of promiscuity, and by ad- 
vocating strict adherence to virtue and moral- 
ity, not on the basis of intelligence or the out- 
come of experience, not even for the attainment 
of rewards, but merely to avoid punishment in 
the form of painful and malignant disease. 
Education so conceived carries with it its own 
refutation. True education cannot tolerate 
the inculcation of fear. Fear is the soil in 
which are implanted inhibitions and morbid 
compulsions. Fear restrains, restricts, hinders 
human expression. It strikes at the very roots 
of joy and happiness. It should therefore be 
the aim of sex education to avoid above all the 
implanting of fear in the mind of the pupil. 

Restriction means placing in the hands of 
external authority the power over behavior. 
Birth Control, on the contrary, implies volun- 
tary action, the decision for one's self how 
many children one shall or shall not bring into 
the world. Birth Control is educational in the 
real sense of the word, in that it asserts this 


power of decision, reinstates this power in the I 
people themselves. 

We are not seeking to introduce new restric- 
tions but greater freedom. As far as sex is 
concerned, the impulse has been more thor- 
oughly subject to restriction than any other 
human instinct. "Thou shalt not!" meets us 
at every turn. Some of these restrictions are 
justified ; some of them are not. We may have 
but one wife or one husband at a time; we 
must attain a certain age before we may marry. 
Children born out of wedlock are deemed "ille- 
gitimate" even healthy children. The news- 
papers every day are filled with the scandals 
of those who have leaped over the restrictions 
or limitations society has written in her sexual 
code. Yet the voluntary control of the pro- 
creative powers, the rational regulation of the 
number of children we bring into the world 
this is the one type of restriction frowned upon 
and prohibited by law! 

In a more definite, a much more realistic and 
concrete manner, Birth Control reveals itself 
as the most effective weapon in the spread of 
hygienic and prophylactic knowledge among 
women of the less fortunate classes. It carries 


with it a thorough training in bodily cleanli- 
ness and physiology, a definite knowledge of 
the physiology and function of sex. In re- 
fusing to teach both sides of the subject, in 
failing to respond to the universal demand 
among women for such instruction and in- 
formation, maternity centers limit their own ef- 
forts and fail to fulfil what should be their true 
mission. They are concerned merely with 
pregnancy, maternity, child-bearing, the prob- 
lem of keeping the baby alive. But any ef- 
fective work in this field must go further back. 
We have gradually come to see, as Havelock 
Ellis has pointed out, that comparatively little 
can be done by improving merely the living 
conditions of adults ; that improving conditions 
for children and babies is not enough. To 
combat the evils of infant mortality, natal 
and pre-natal care is not sufficient. Even to 
improve the conditions for the pregnant 
woman, is insufficient. Necessarily and inevit- 
ably, we are led further and further back, to 
the point of procreation; beyond that, into the 
regulation of sexual selection. The problem 
becomes a circle. We cannot solve one part 
of it without a consideration of the entirety. 


But it is especially at the point of creation 
where all the various forces are concentrated. 
Conception must be controlled by reason, by 
intelligence, by science, or we lose control of 
all its consequences. 

Birth Control is essentially an education for < 
women. It is women who, directly and by 
their very nature, bear the burden of that 
blindness, ignorance and lack of foresight con- 
cerning sex which is now enforced by law and 
custom. Birth Control places in the hands of 
women the only effective instrument whereby 
they may reestablish the balance in society, 
and assert, not only theoretically but practic- 
ally as well, the primary importance of the 
woman and the child in civilization. 

Birth Control is thus the stimulus to educa- 
tion. Its exercise awakens and develops the 
sense of self-reliance and responsibility, and 
illuminates the relation of the individual to so- 
ciety and to the race in a manner that otherwise 
remains vague and academic. It reveals sex 
not merely as an untamed and insatiable nat- 
ural force to which men and women must 
submit hopelessly and inertly, as it sweeps 
through them, and then accept with abject hu^ 


mility the hopeless and heavy consequences. 
Instead, it places in their hands the power to 
control this great force; to use it, to direct it 
into channels in which it becomes the energy 
enhancing their lives and increasing self-ex- 
pression and self-development. It awakens in 
women the consciousness of new glories and 
new possibilities in motherhood. No longer 
the prostrate victim of the blind play of in- 
stinct but the self-reliant mistress of her body 
and her own will, the new mother finds in her 
child the fulfilment of her own desires. In 
free instead of compulsory motherhood she 
finds the avenue of her own development and 
expression. No longer bound by an unending 
series of pregnancies, at liberty to safeguard 
the development of her own children, she may 
now extend her beneficent influence beyond her 
own home. In becoming thus intensified, 
motherhood may also broaden and become 
more extensive as well. The mother sees 
that the welfare of her own children is bound 
up with the welfare of all others. Not upon 
the basis of sentimental charity or gratuitous 
"welfare- work" but upon that of enlightened 
self-interest, such a mother may exert her 


influence among the less fortunate and less en- 

Unless based upon this central knowledge of 
and power over her own body and her own in- 
stincts, education for woman is valueless. As 
long as she remains the plaything of strong, un- 
controlled natural forces, as long as she must 
docilely and humbly submit to the decisions of 
others, how can woman ever lay the founda- 
tions of self-respect, self-reliance and in- 
dependence? How can she make her own 
choice, exercise her own discrimination, her 
own foresight? 

In the exercise of these powers, in the build- 
ing up and integration of her own experience, 
in mastering her own environment the true 
education of woman must be sought. And in 
the sphere of sex, the great source and root 
of all human experience, it is upon the basis 
of Birth Control the voluntary direction of 
her own sexual expression that woman must 
take her first step in the assertion of freedom 
and self-respect. 



I saw a woman sleeping. In her sleep she dreamed 
Life stood before her. and held in each hand a gift 
in the one Love, in the other Freedom. And she said to 
the woman, "Choose!" 

And the woman waited long: and she said, "Freedom !" 

And Life said, "Thou has well chosen. If thou 
hadst said, 'Love/ I would have given thee that thou 
didst ask for; and I would have gone from thee, and 
returned to thee no more. Now, the day will come 
when I shall return. In that day I shall bear both gifts 
in one hand." 

I heard the woman laugh in her sleep. 

Olive Schreiner 

BY no means is it necessary to look forward 
to some vague and distant date of the future 
to test the benefits which the human race de- 
rives from the program I have suggested in 
the preceding pages. The results to the in- 
dividual woman, to the family, and to the 
State, particularly in the case of Holland, 



have already been investigated and recorded. 
Our philosophy is no doctrine of escape from 
the immediate and pressing realities of life. 
On the contrary, we say to men and women, 
and particularly to the latter: face the reali- 
ties of your own soul and body; know thyself! 
And in this last admonition, we mean that this 
knowledge should not consist of some vague 
shopworn generalities about the nature of 
woman woman as created in the minds of 
men, nor woman putting herself on a romantic 
pedestal above the harsh facts of this workaday 
world. Women can attain freedom only by t 
concrete, definite knowledge of themselves, a 
knowledge based on biology, physiology and 

Nevertheless it would be wrong to shut our 
eyes to the vision of a world of free men and 
women, a world which would more closely re- 
semble a garden than the present jungle of 
chaotic conflicts and fears. One of the greatest 
dangers of social idealists, to all of us who hope 
to make a better world, is to seek refuge in 
highly colored fantasies of the future rather 
than to face and combat the bitter and evil 
realities which to-day on all sides confront us. 


I believe that the reader of my preceding chap- 
ters will not accuse me of shirking these reali- 
ties; indeed, he may think that I have over- 
emphasized the great biological problems of 
defect, delinquency and bad breeding. It is 
in the hope that others too may glimpse my 
vision of a world regenerated that I submit the 
following suggestions. They are based on the 
belief that we must seek individual and racial 
health not by great political or social recon- 
struction, but, turning to a recognition of our 
own inherent powers and development, by the 
release of our inner energies. It is thus that 
all of us can best aid in making of this world, 
instead of a vale of tears, a garden. 

Let us first of all consider merely from the 
viewpoint of business and "efficiency" the 
biological or racial problems which confront us. 
As Americans, we have of late made much of 
"efficiency" and business organization. Yet 
would any corporation for one moment con- 
duct its affairs as we conduct the infinitely more 
important affairs of our civilization? Would 
any modern stockbreeder permit the deterior- 
ation of his livestock as we not only permit but 
positively encourage the destruction and de- 


terioration of the most precious, the most essen- 
tial elements in our world community the 
mothers and children. With the mothers and 
children thus cheapened, the next generation 
of men and women is inevitably below par. 
The tendency of the human elements, under 
present conditions, is constantly downward. 
Turn to Robert M. Yerkes's "Psychological 
Examining in the United States Army" 1 in 
which we are informed that the psychological 
examination of the drafted men indicated that 
nearly half 47.3 per cent. of the population 
had the mentality of twelve-year-old children 
or less in other words that they are morons. 
Professor Conklin, in his recently published 
volume "The Direction of Human Evolu- 
tion" 2 is led, on the findings of Mr. Yerkes's 
report, to assert: "Assuming that these drafted 
men are a fair sample of the entire population 

1 Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. Volume 

2 Conklin, The Direction of Human Evolution. "When it is 
remembered that mental capacity is inherited, that parents 
of low intelligence generally produce children of low intelli- 
gence, and that on the average they have more children than 
persons of high intelligence, and furthermore, when we consider 
that the intellectual capacity or 'mental age' can be changed 
very little by education, we are in a position to appreciate the 
very serious condition which confronts us as a nation." p. 108. 


of approximately 100,000,000, this means that 
45,000,000, or nearly one-half the entire popu- 
lation, will never develop mental capacity be- 
yond the stage represented by a normal twelve- 
year-old child, and that only 13,500,000 
will ever show superior intelligence." 
Making all due allowances for the errors and 
discrepancies of the psychological examina- 
tion, we are nevertheless face to face with a ser- 
ious and destructive practice. Our "over- 
head" expense in segregating the delinquent, 
the defective and the dependent, in prisons, 
asylums and permanent homes, our failure to 
segregate morons who are increasing and mul- 
tiplying I have sufficiently indicated, though 
in truth I have merely scratched the surface of 
this international menace demonstrate our 
foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism. 
No industrial corporation could maintain its 
existence upon such a foundation. Yet hard- 
headed "captains of industry," financiers who 
pride themselves upon their cool-headed and 
keen-sighted business ability are dropping mil- 
lions into rosewater philanthropies and chari- 
ties that are silly at best and vicious at worst. 
In our dealings with such elements there is a 


bland maladministration and misuse of huge 
sums that should in all righteousness be used 
for the development and education of the 
healthy elements of the community. 

At the present time, civilized nations are 
penalizing talent and genius, the bearers of the 
torch of civilization, to coddle and perpetuate 
the choking human undergrowth, which, as all 
authorities tell us, is escaping control and 
threatens to overrun the whole garden of hu- 
manity. Yet men continue to drug themselves 
with the opiate of optimism, or sink back upon 
the cushions of Christian resignation, their in- 
tellectual powers anaesthetized by cheerful 
platitudes. Or else, even those, who are fully 
cognizant of the chaos and conflict, seek an es- 
cape in those pretentious but fundamentally 
fallacious social philosophies which place the 
blame for contemporary world misery upon 
anybody or anything except the indomitable 
but uncontrolled instincts of living organisms. 
These men fight with shadows and forget the 
realities of existence. Too many centuries 
have we sought to hide from the inevitable, 
which confronts us at every step throughout 


Let us conceive for the moment at least, a 
world not burdened by the weight of depen- 
dent and delinquent classes, a total population 
of mature, intelligent, critical and expressive 
men and women. Instead of the inert, ex- 
ploitable, (mentally passive class which now 
forms the barren substratum of our civilization, 
try to imagine a population active, resistant, 
passing individual and social lives of the most 
contented and healthy sort. Would such men 
and women, liberated from our endless, unceas- 
ing struggle against mass prejudice and 
inertia, be deprived in any way of the stimu- 
lating zest of life? Would they sink into a 
slough of complacency and fatuity? 

No! Life for them would be enriched, in- 
tensified and ennobled in a fashion it is difficult 
for us in our spiritual and physical squalor 
even to imagine. There would be a new re- 
naissance of the arts and sciences. Awak- 
ened at last to the proximity of the treasures of 
life lying all about them, the children of that 
age would be inspired by a spirit of adventure 
and romance that would indeed produce a 
terrestrial paradise. 


Let us look forward to this great release of 
creative and constructive energy, not as an 
idle, vacuous mirage, but as a promise which 
we, as the whole human race, have it in our 
power, in the very conduct of our lives from 
day to day, to transmute into a glorious reality. 
Let us look forward to that era, perhaps not 
so distant as we believe, when the great adven- 
tures in the enchanted realm of the arts and 
sciences may no longer be the privilege of a 
gifted few, but the rightful heritage of a race 
of genius. In such a world men and women 
would no longer seek escape from themselves 
by the fantastic and the faraway. They 
would be awakened to the realization that the 
source of life, of happiness, is to be found not 
outside themselves, but within, in the healthful 
exercise of their God-given functions. The 
treasures of life are not hidden; they are close 
at hand, so close that we overlook them. We 
cheat ourselves with a pitiful fear of ourselves. 
Men and women of the future will not seek 
happiness; they will have gone beyond it. 
Mere happiness would produce monotony. 
And their lives shall be lives of change and 


variety with the thrills produced by experi- 
ment and research. 

Fear will have been abolished: first of all, 
the fear of outside things and other people; 
finally the fear of oneself. And with these 
fears must disappear forever all those poisons 
of hatreds, individual and international. For 
the realization would come that there would 
be no reason for, no value in encroaching upon, 
the freedom of one another. To-day we are 
living in a world which is like a forest of trees 
too thickly planted. Hence the ferocious, un- 
ending struggle for existence. Like in- 
numerable ages past, the present age is one of 
mutual destruction. Our aim is to substitute 
cooperation, equity, and amity for antagon- 
ism and conflict. If the aim of our country 
or our civilization is to attain a hollow, mean- 
ingless superiority over others in aggregate 
wealth and population, it may be sound policy 
to shut our eyes to the sacrifice of human life, 
unregarded life and suffering and to stim- 
ulate rapid procreation. But even so, such a 
policy is bound in the long run to defeat itself, 
as the decline and fall of great civilizations of 
the past emphatically indicate. Even the bit- 


erest opponent of our ideals would refuse to 
subscribe to a philosophy of mere quantity, of 
wealth and population lacking in spiritual di- 
rection or significance. All of us hope for 
and look forward to the fine flowering of hu- 
man genius of genius not expending and dis- 
sipating its energy in the bitter struggle for 
mere existence, but developing to a fine ma- 
turity, sustained and nourished by the soil 
of active appreciation, criticism, and recogni- 

Not by denying the central and basic bio- 
logical facts of our nature, not by subscribing 
to the glittering but false values of any phil- 
osophy or program of escape, not by wild Uto- 
pian dreams of the brotherhood of men, not 
by any sanctimonious debauch of sentimental- 
ity or religiosity, may we accomplish the first 
feeble step toward liberation. On the con- 
trary, only by firmly planting our feet on the 
solid ground of scientific fact may we even 
stand erect may we even rise from the servile 
stooping posture of the slave, borne down by 
the weight of age-old oppression. 

In looking forward to this radiant release 
of the inner energies of a regenerated human- 


ity, I am not thinking merely of inventions 
and discoveries and the application of these to 
the perfecting of the external and mechanical 
details of social life. This external and scien- 
tific perfecting of the mechanism of external 
life is a phenomenon we are to a great extent 
witnessing today. But in a deeper sense this 
tendency can be of no true or lasting value 
if it cannot be made to subserve the biological 
and spiritual development of the human or- 
ganism, individual and collective. Our great 
problem is not merely to perfect machinery, 
to produce superb ships, motor cars or great 
buildings, but to remodel the race so that it 
may equal the amazing progress we see now 
making in the externals of life. We must 
first free our bodies from disease and predispo- 
sition to disease. We must perfect these bod- 
ies and make them fine instruments of the 
Wind and the spirit. / Only thus, when the 
body becomes an aid instead of a hindrance 
to human expression may we attain any civ- 
ilization worthy of the name. Only thus may 
we create of our bodies a fitting temple for 
the soul, which is nothing but a vague un- 
reality except insofar as it is able to mani- 


fest itself in the beauty of the concrete. 
Once we have accomplished the first tenta- 
tive steps toward the creation of a real civ- 
ilization, the task of freeing the spirit of man- 
kind from the bondage of ignorance, prej- 
udice and mental passivity which is more fet- 
tering now than ever in the history of human- 
ity, will be facilitated a thousand-fold. The 
great central problem, and one which must be 
taken first is the abolition of the shame and 
fear of sex. We must teach men the over- 
whelming power of this radiant force. We 
must make them understand that uncontrolled, 
it is a cruel tyrant, but that controlled and di- 
rected, it may be used to transmute and sub- 
limate the everyday world into a realm of 
beauty and joy. Through sex, mankind may 
attain the great spiritual illumination which 
will transform the world, which will light up 
the only path to an earthly paradise. So must 
we necessarily and inevitably conceive of sex- 
expression. The instinct is here. None of 
us can avoid it. It is in our power to make it 
a thing of beauty and a joy forever: or to 
deny it, as have the ascetics of the past, to revile 
this expression and then to pay the penalty, 


the bitter penalty that Society to-day is paying 
in innumerable ways. 

If I am criticized for the seeming "selfish- 
ness" of this conception it will be through a 
misunderstanding. The individual is fulfil- 
ing his duty to society as a whole not by self- 
sacrifice but by self -development. He does 
his best for the world not by dying for it, not 
by increasing the sum total of misery, disease 
and unhappiness, but by increasing his own 
stature, by releasing a greater energy, by be- 
ing active instead of passive, creative instead 
of destructive. This is fundamentally the 
greatest truth to be discovered by womankind 
at large. And until women are awakened to 
their pivotal function in the creation of a new 
civilization, that new era will remain an impos- 
sible and fantastic dream. The new civiliza- 
tion can become a glorious reality only with 
the awakening of woman's now dormant qual- 
ities of strength, courage, and vigor. As a 
great thinker of the last century pointed out, 
not only to her own health and happiness is 
the physical degeneracy of woman destruc- 
tive, but to our whole race. The physical and 
psychic power of woman is more indispensable 


to the well-being and power of the human race 
than that even of man, for the strength and 
happiness of the child is more organically 
united with that of the mother. 

Parallel with the awakening of woman's 
interest in her own fundamental nature, in her 
realization that her greatest duty to society 
lies in self-realization, will come a greater and 
deeper love for all of humanity. For in at- 
taining a true individuality of her own she will 
understand that we are all individuals, that 
each human being is essentially implicated in 
every question or problem which involves the 
well-being of the humblest of us. So to-day 
we are not to meet the great problems of de- 
fect and delinquency in any merely sentimen- 
tal or superficial manner, but with the firmest 
and most unflinching attitude toward the true 
interests of our fellow beings. It is from no 
mere feeling of brotherly love or sentimental 
philanthropy that we women must insist upon 
enhancing the value of child life. It is be- 
cause we know that, if our children are to 
develop to their full capabilities, all chil- 
dren must be assured a similar opportunity. 
Every single case of inherited defect, every 


malformed child, every congenitally tainted 
human being brought into this world is of in- 
finite importance to that poor individual; but it 
is of scarcely less importance to the rest of us 
and to all of our children who must pay in one 
way or another for these biological and racial 
mistakes. We look forward in our vision of 
the future to children brought into the world 
because they are desired, called from the un- 
known by a fearless and conscious passion, be- 
cause women and men need children to com- 
plete the symmetry of their own development, 
no less than to perpetuate the race. They 
shall be called into a world enhanced and made 
beautiful by the spirit of freedom and romance 
into a world wherein the creatures of our 
new day, unhampered and unbound by the sin- 
ister forces of prejudice and immovable habit, 
may work out their own destinies. Perhaps 
we may catch fragmentary glimpses of this 
new life in certain societies of the past, in 
Greece perhaps ; but in all of these past civiliza- 
tions these happy groups formed but a small 
exclusive section of the population. To- 
day our task is greater; for we realize that 
no section of humanity can be reclaimed 


without the regeneration of the whole. 
* I look, therefore, into a Future when men 
and women will not dissipate their energy in 
the vain and fruitless search for content outside 
of themselves, in far-away places or people. 
Perfect masters of their own inherent powers, 
controlled with a fine understanding of the 
art of life and of love, adapting themselves 
with pliancy and intelligence to the milieu in 
which they find themselves, they will unafraid 
enjoy life to the utmost. Women will for the 
first time in the unhappy history of this globe 
establish a true equilibrium and "balance of 
power" in the relation of the sexes. The old 
antagonism will have disappeared, the old ill- 
concealed warfare between men and women. 
For the men themselves will comprehend that 
in this cultivation of the human garden they) 
will be rewarded a thousand times. Interest 
in the vague sentimental fantasies of extra- 
mundane existence, in pathological or hyster- 
ical flights from the realities of our earthliness, 
will have through atrophy disappeared, for in 
that dawn men and women will have come to 
the realization, already suggested, that here 
close at hand is our paradise, our everlasting 


abode, our Heaven and our eternity. Not by 
leaving it and our essential humanity behind 
us, nor by sighing to be anything but what we 
are, shall we ever become ennobled or immor- 
tal. Not for woman only, but for all of 
humanity is this the field where we must seek 
the secret of eternal life. 






The complex problems now confronting 
America as the result of the practice of reck- 
less procreation are fast threatening to grow 
beyond human control. 

Everywhere we see poverty and large fami- 
lies going hand in hand. Those least fit to 
carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. 
People who cannot support their own off- 
spring are encouraged by Church and State to 
produce large families. Many of the children 
thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; 
many become criminals. The burden of sup- 
porting these unwanted types has to be borne 
by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds 
that should be used to raise the standard of our 
civilization are diverted to the maintenance of 
those who should never have been born. 

In addition to this grave evil we witness the 
appalling waste of women's health and women's 
lives by too frequent pregnancies. These un- 



wanted pregnancies often provoke the crime of l 
abortion, or alternatively multiply the number 
of child-workers and lower the standard of 

To create a race of well born children it is 
essential that the function of motherhood 
should be elevated to a position of dignity, 
and this is impossible as long as conception 
remains a matter of chance. 

We hold that children should be 

1. Conceived in love; 

2. Born of the mother's conscious desire; 

3. And only begotten under conditions 

which render possible the heritage of 

Therefore we hold that every woman must 
possess the power and freedom to prevent con- 
ception except when these conditions can be 

Every mother must realize her basic position 
in human society. She must be conscious of 
her responsibility to the race in bringing chil- 
dren into the world. 

Instead of being a blind and haphazard con- 
sequence of uncontrolled instinct, motherhood 
must be made the responsible and self -directed 


means of human expression and regeneration. 
These purposes, which are of fundamental 
importance to the whole of our nation and to 
the future of mankind, can only be attained 
if women first receive practical scientific edu- 
cation in the means of Birth Control. That, 
therefore, is the first object to which the efforts 
of this League will be directed. 


aims to enlighten and educate all sections of 
the American public in the various aspects of 
the dangers of uncontrolled procreation and the 
imperative necessity of a world program of 
Birth Control. 

The League aims to correlate the findings 
of scientists, statisticians, investigators, and so- 
cial agencies in all fields. To make this pos- 
sible, it is necessary to organize various de- 
partments : 

RESEARCH: To collect the findings of sci- 
entists, concerning the relation of reckless 
breeding to the evils of delinquency, defect and 
dependence ; 

INVESTIGATION: To derive from these sci- 


entifically ascertained facts and figures, con- 
clusions which may aid all public health and 
social agencies in the study of problems of ma- 
ternal and infant mortality, child-labor, mental 
and physical defects and delinquence in rela- 
tion to the practice of reckless parentage. 

by the Medical profession to mothers and po- 
tential mothers in harmless and reliable meth- 
ods of Birth Control in answer to their re- 
quests for such knowledge. 

STERILIZATION of the insane and feeble- 
minded and the encouragement of this opera- 
tion upon those afflicted with inherited or trans- 
missible diseases, with the understanding that 
sterilization does not deprive the individual of 
his or her sex expression, but merely renders 
him incapable of producing children. 

EDUCATIONAL: The program of education 
includes: The enlightenment of the public at 
large, mainly through the education of leaders 
of thought and opinion teachers, ministers, 
editors and writers to the moral and scien- 
tific soundness of the principles of Birth Con- 
trol and the imperative necessity of its adop- 


tion as the basis of national and racial progress. 

support and cooperation of legal advisers, 
statesmen and legislators in effecting the re- 
moval of state and federal statutes which en- 
courage dysgenic breeding, increase the sum 
total of disease, misery and poverty and pre- 
vent the establishment of a policy of national 
health and strength. 

ORGANIZATION: To send into the various 
States of the Union field workers to enlist the 
support and arouse the interest of the masses, 
to the importance of Birth Control so that 
laws may be changed and the establishment of 
clinics made possible in every State. 

INTERNATIONAL: This department aims to 
cooperate with similar organizations in other 
countries to study Birth Control in its rela- 
tions to the world population problem, food 
supplies, national and racial conflicts, and to 
urge upon all international bodies organized to 
promote world peace, the consideration of these 
aspects of international amity. 

proposes to publish in its official organ "The 


Birth Control Review," reports and studies on 
the relationship of controlled and uncon- 
trolled populations to national and world 

The American Birth Control League also 
proposes to hold an annual Conference to 
bring together the workers of the various de- 
partments so that each worker may realize the 
inter-relationship of all the various phases of 
the problem to the end that National educa- 
tion will tend to encourage and develop the 
powers of self direction, self-reliance, and in- 
dependence in the individuals of the commun- 
ity instead of dependence for relief upon pub- 
lic or private charities.