Congressmen last week foiled Mrs. Margaret Sanger's sixth attempt to get a Federal law passed which will allow doctors to give their patients advice on birth control without running the risk of being jailed and fined. Undepressed, plump Mrs. Sanger proceeded to hold a party to celebrate the 21 years of Birth Control & Sanger history. Helping her were powerful names, among them: Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Harold L. Ickes and Mrs. Frederick A. Delano, the President's aunt. Five hundred sponsors of the dinner included Mrs. Otto H. Kahn, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick.
Mrs. Sanger's father, Michael Hennessy Higgins, was an easygoing, loquacious, free-thinking carver of tombstone saints at Corning, N. Y. He died at 80. Her mother was a tight, aggressive little body who bore eleven children and died at 48. Margaret Higgins, sixth child, was born in 1883, developed tuberculosis from which she recovered only after bearing three children to William Sanger, an architect whom she married in 1900 and divorced in 1921. Now he practices architecture in Albany, N. Y. Of the children, Peggy, the youngest, died when 4 years old. Stuart, 30, Yale '28, once "in Wall Street," now lives in Tucson, Ariz. (because of a sinus infection). Grant. 25, Princeton '31, is a Cornell Medical senior. In 1922 Mrs. Margaret Higgins Sanger married James Noah Henry Slee, onetime president of 3-in-1 Oil Co. They have a mansion at the edge of a lake near Fishkill, N. Y. Ordinarily she prefers to be called Margaret Sanger, the name which has become the symbol of Birth Control.
1914-35, When Margaret Sanger's first marriage became unhappy, she occupied herself with public health nursing and decided that poverty, debility and big families went together. In 1914 she invented the phrase Birth Control and founded a magazine, The Woman Rebel, to propagate the idea. Dumfounded police, egged on by shocked churchmen and politicians, swore out a warrant for her arrest. She ran away to England.
In England she met Marie Carmichael Slopes, doctor of science and of philosophy, who was writing a book called Married Love because her marriage to Dr. R. R. Gates was unconsummated and she was trying to reason out what was wrong with the pair of them. Mrs. Sanger gave Dr. Stopes practical advice on contraceptives after which the two went shopping in London for material and information and Dr. Stopes got an annulment of her marriage. Result was that Married Love acquired validity and became a mighty fulcrum for birth control in England.*
In 1916 Mrs. Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U. S. in Brooklyn. She distributed circulars in English, Yiddish and Italian offering help to neighborhood women. Police arrested her, got her a 30-day jail sentence. Thereafter she became cautious in her public activities.
In 1921 she founded the American Birth Control League. Patrick Cardinal Hayes, then simply Archbishop Hayes of New York, gave it a big boost by having the League's first convention raided.
Next big step occurred in 1928, when she founded the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control which last week failed to make a handful of Congressmen think the way Mrs. Sanger wanted them to think.