black market birth control

black market birth control - Black Market Birth Control...

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Black Market Birth Control: Contraceptive Enterpreneurship and Criminality in the Gilded Age Author(s): Andrea Tone Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of American History, Vol. 87, No. 2 (Sep., 2000), pp. 435-459 Published by: Organization of American Historians Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2568759 . Accessed: 25/01/2012 23:36 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Organization of American Historians is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Journal of American History. http://www.jstor.org
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Black Market Birth Control: Contraceptive Entrepreneurship and Criminality in the Gilded Age Andrea Tone Sarah Chase's arrest in May 1878 caught her by surprise. For four years she had been selling contraceptives in Manhattan and Brooklyn without incident. A graduate of the Cleveland Homeopathic College, Chase had moved to Manhattan with her young daughter in 1874, earning a living lecturing on physiology and sexology to men's and women's groups at church and meeting halls. At the conclusion of her talks, Chase sold birth control, which shealso advertised in circulars sent through the mail.1 Chase's activities violated an 1873 federal law that banned the dissemination and distribution of contraceptives through the mail or across state lines. In 1878 its chief enforcer, Anthony Comstock, chief agent of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSsv) and postal inspector by congressional appointment, plotted her arrest. Adopting thepseudonym Mr. Farnsworth, he wrote Chase and arranged a meeting at her home to purchase a douching syringe for his wife. The day after the sale,Comstock returned to Chase's dwelling with the detective James G. Howe of the Twenty-sixth Precinct, who pretended to need a syringe for his wife too. When Chase soldhim one, Howe disclosed histrue identity, served her with an arrest warrant, and seized six other syringes found on the premises. Comstock and Howe escorted Chase to the Tombs, the city jail, where she was released on fifteen hundred dollars bail. In a letter to his boss at the United States Post Office, Com- Andrea Tone is an associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The author wishes to thank Susan Armeny, Michael Bellesiles, Bill Deverell, Lawrence Friedman, Lou Galambos, Gus Giebelhaus, Sally Gordon, Elke Kluge,Karen Lystra, Margaret Marsh, Greg Nobles, David Nord, Phil Scranton, David Thelen, John Tone, Steve Usselman, Liz Watkins, and anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.
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