Margaret Sanger, "Facing the New Year," Jan 1923.

Published Article. Source: Birth Control Review, Jan. 1923, 3-4 , Margaret Sanger Microfilm S70:956 .


Facing the New Year

No year has been more eventful, more crowded with drama and significance than the twelve months just finished. The first American Birth Control conference; the illegal breaking up of the Town Hall meeting and our subsequent exposure of the powers of darkness; our triumphant completion of the meeting in the Park Theatre; our successful incorporation of the American Birth Control League; the increasing support and championship of Birth Control by the finest contemporary intellects of the world; the organization of State leagues and the awakening of public interest in this profound and immediate problem--such are only a few of the events that should inspire us to new and increased endeavor. The year 1922 also marks the successful circling of the globe by the doctrine of Birth Control. Despite the efforts at suppression by the Imperial Japanese government, Margaret Sanger was warmly greeted in the leading cities of the island empire; and the Birth Control movement has struck roots in the land of the Mikado. We should also mention the dignified conference held in London last July, and the adhesion to our movement of so distinguished a figure as that brilliant economist John Maynard Keynes. But if we have succeeded in impressing public opinion, in awakening interest, we face at the beginning of 1923 great difficulties.

The year 1922 marked for us the renewed efforts of our arch-enemies to hinder the progress of enlightenment. The seat of this opposition is to be found in the Roman Catholic Church. This enemy is ceaselessly active and openly determined to exterminate the Birth Control movement in America. The incident of the Town Hall meeting illustrates the extent our opponents may go. The Cincinnati episode, recounted elsewhere in this issue, shows the attempt of the Roman Catholic Church and such subsidiary bodies as the Knights of Columbus, to use the weapon of boycott to stop the progress of Birth Control. Last month we invited our enemies to come out into the open. The Knights of Columbus threatened the managers of the Hotel Gibson with the cancellation of their annual banquet, if they permitted the use of the Hotel Gibson ballroom for the Birth Control conferences. To the everlasting credit of the managers of the hotel and the Mayor of Cincinnati, they stood firm. They upheld the law and the Constitution. They refused to be intimidated by this blustering mob, directed by the wily directors of Church politics. The conference was held, the Knights of Columbus banquet was cancelled. Let us not fail to record here our deep gratitude and appreciation for this noble support of the sacred American traditions of free speech and free thought. Cincinnati is to be congratulated for the fine courage and steadfastness of her mayor, her citizens, and the management of the Hotel Gibson, in resisting the threats of the Catholic machine. Our movement is an educational one in more ways than one.

Our handicaps are great. They seem greater than ever before. We have the equipment for the greatest single movement on the earth--almost. No one can deny that we have the vision, the fighting energy, an ever-growing knowledge of the cause from its scientific and practical aspects. Every day we are receiving letters of encouragement from the most enlightened men and women in every country. We have workers eager to dedicate their lives to the movement. We have the support of the best authorities in the fields of social service, of the churches and of scientific research. There seems in truth only one aspect in which we are weak, and in that so deplorably weak that our hopes seem impossible of realization. We have no definite and dependable financial resources. Without this foundation we cannot continue our fight. Our workers should have some assurance that they are supported by enlightened public opinion. They should be relieved of the ignoble task of collecting penny by penny. This burden at least should not be heavy upon the shoulders of those who are on the fighting front. In this war for true civilization we should stand back of our little army of the vanguard. Vague purposeless charities are generously supported; philanthropic schemes get millions from intelligent Americans. This great experiment, this effort to educate the educators, which is now gradually bearing fruit, is assumed to be able to live on nothing a year. Years of study, research, labor and sacrifice have gone into the effort to crystallize the Birth Control movement. We are just successfully beginning to penetrate the social consciousness of our age. Our effort to accomplish this is absolutely dependent upon financial support. People buy pictures racehorses, aeroplanes and motor cars. They support charities, museums, schools, the opera. They are interested in breeding thoroughbred live stock. Why are they so little interested in our effort to improve the human stock, to introduce efficiency, health and nobility into the coming generations? Here is the great experiment, the most fascinating of all, the most important of all social efforts to bring order out of chaos, the most interesting and exciting fashion, in short, to create the future civilization of America and of the world! The line for millionaires forms at the right. Step forward please!

M. S.


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