Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

MARGARET HIGGINS SANGER

( 1879-1966), crusader for voluntary motherhood

JOHN M. MURPHY

From her political awakening in 1910 to her retirement from public life in 1962, Margaret Higgins Sanger pursued one goal: the dissemination of reliable contraceptives to women around the world. Regardless of changes in the political, legal, or economic climate, she advocated birth control from the tenements of New York City to the villages of China, from the halls of the United States Congress to forums around the world.

Higgins Sanger's career began with her long fight ( 1910-1937) to legalize the distribution of birth control information in the United States. In pursuit of that goal, she founded and edited two newspapers, the Woman Rebel and the Birth Control Review, and played a major role in the founding of three national organizations, the American Birth Control League, the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She organized birth control research, founded birth control clinics, filed and won lawsuits to modify birth control laws, the most important of which, United States v. One Package ( 1937), opened the mails to distribution of contraceptive information to physicians, and gave innumerable speeches on behalf of her cause. After World War II, she founded and served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She fought for government aid in the distribution of birth control throughout the 1950s and played an important role in the development of the birth control pill ( Chesler, 1992; Reed, 1978).

Margaret Higgins Sanger remained steadfastly wedded to one cause because she believed birth control was the lever with which she could move the world. No matter what the particular problem of an era might be, she claimed that birth control could meet that need. One central thesis animated her work: "Birth Control is the keynote of a new social awakening" ( Parsons' Theatre Address, 1923). The epigram that appeared on the masthead of the Birth Control Review during her editorship put the matter bluntly: "To create a race of thoroughbreds." She believed that birth control would lead to more independent women, to better human beings, and to a better world.

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Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Ti-Grace Atkinson 1
  • Emily Greene Balch 25
  • Clare Boothe Luce 40
  • Rachel Louise Carson 72
  • Margaret Chase Smith 90
  • Mary Daly 120
  • Jessie Daniel Ames 134
  • Andrea Dworkin 175
  • Geraldine Ann Ferraro 190
  • Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900-1980), Member of Congress, Defender of Liberal Democratic Principles, Advocate for Women's Equity 207
  • Margaret Higgins Sanger 238
  • Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968), Advocate for the Blind, Socialist, and Feminist 254
  • Aimee Kennedy Semple Mcpherson 273
  • Catharine A. Mackinnon 287
  • Robin Evonne Morgan 306
  • Pauli Murray 319
  • Leonora O'Reilly 331
  • Frances Perkins 345
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman 359
  • Anna Eleanor Roosevelt 379
  • Patricia Scott Schroeder 395
  • Phyllis Stewart Schlafly 409
  • Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer 424
  • Alyce Faye Wattleton 436
  • Ann Willis Richards 452
  • Martha Wright Griffiths 465
  • Index 477
  • About the Contributors 489
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