On May 6, 1917 about 200 people watched a private showing Margaret Sanger’s film, Birth Control. Sanger had scheduled it to open publicly the next night, but New York officials banned it as obscene and it was never shown publicly.
Discomfort regarding sexually-related topics has long been part of American culture. A result of that attitude is that access to reproductive information and obstetric treatment for American women been limited socially as well as legally.
On March 3, 1873 the Comstock Act [named after Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector] amended the Post Office Act . Within that act it was illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this act also banned the distribution of information on abortion for educational purposes.Vestiges of the act endured as the law of the land into the 1990s. In 1971 Congress removed the language concerning contraception, and federal courts until Roe v Wade in 1973 ruled that it applied only to “unlawful” abortions. After Roe, laws criminalizing transportation of information about abortion remained on the books, and, although they have not been enforced, they have been expanded to ban distribution of abortion-related information on the Internet. [Britannica article]
Margaret Sanger, 1879 - 1966, despite her eugenics statements, is in many ways the most important American in terms of reproductive heath care for American women.Sanger watched her mother Anne die at the age of 49 after she had gone through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years.In 1911 she and her husband moved to New York City where, as a visiting nurse, she saw the devastating effects of poverty on health, particularly women's health. As an aid to this heath issue, Sanger believed that women needed access to reproductive health information. Her activities in support of that belief were often illegal.
For example: in March 1914, Sanger produced The Woman Rebel whichinstructed women on times when it would be wise for them to avoid pregnancy, such as in the case of illness or poverty. She did not give any instructions regarding specific methods for contraception, but the New York City postmaster banned the journal under the Comstock Law category of "obscene, lewd, lascivious" matter.
Margaret Sanger Birth Control
Despite intense social and legal opposition, on October 16, 1916 Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn. The clinic served 448 people that first day. Ten days later the vice squad raided and shut down the clinic. The squad arrested Sanger and Byrne and confiscated all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic. On November 1, 1921 the American Birth Control League was created through a merger of the National Birth Control League and the Voluntary Parenthood League. Led by Sanger, the new league became the leading birth control advocacy group in the country. The American Birth Control League eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. [Sanger did not like the term planned parenthood and continued to use the phrase "birth control."
Birth control pill
Margaret Sanger's long term goal was a birth control pill, yet laws against any form of birth control continued to be enacted and upheld in court [February 1, 1943, in Tileston v. Ullman, the Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut law banning the use of drugs or instruments that prevented conception.]In the early 1940s, researchers began to discover chemicals that could affect ovulation and on April 25, 1951,Margaret Sanger managed to secure a tiny grant for researcher Gregory Pincus from Planned Parenthood. Pincus begins initial work on the use of hormones as a contraceptive. Within a year his research supports the idea, but Planned Parenthood decided not to support further research because it was too risky. In 1953 Sanger was able to gain financial support for Pincus's research. In 1955 human clinical trials proved that the "pill" was 100% effective.It was still six years later before the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill. It first went on sale in December 1960. Despite continued social, legal, and religious opposition, by 1964 some four million women were using the drug.
Griswold v. Connecticut
On June 7, 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court struck down the one remaining state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples.After an adult lifetime of fighting for women's heath rights, Margaret Sanger died on September 6, 1966. [NYT obit]
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October 26, 1825: after eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths—mostly Irish immigrants—the 350-mile Erie Canal opened, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, the driving force behind the project, led the opening ceremonies and rode the canal boat Seneca Chief from Buffalo to New York City (TM, see November 26, 1832; Labor, see January 29, 1834)
Blacks in court
Prior to the Civil War, many Southern states, including Texas, barred enslaved or free black people from testifying against white people in court proceedings. Following the Confederacy’s defeat, those states were forced to comply with requirements created by the Republican-controlled Congress in order to be readmitted to the Union, including altering their laws and state constitutions to respect black Americans’ new status as citizens with civil rights.On October 26, 1866, the Texas legislature passed a law redefining the circumstances in which blacks could testify in court. Rather than simply establish that black people would have full and equal rights to testify, Texas lawmakers crafted a statute that provided that “persons of color shall not testify” except in cases where “the prosecution is against a person who is a person of color; or where the offense is charged to have been committed against the person or property of a person of color.”In civil cases between white parties and in criminal prosecutions of white people not charged with offenses against a black person, black people remained second-class citizens with no right to air their grievances in a court of law. In addition, even in the cases in which black witnesses were permitted to speak, few could have much faith in the promise of equal justice -- a court system that limited rights based on the color of one’s skin also was likely to judge credibility by those same terms. (see February 6, 1867)
President Warren G. Harding
October 26, 1921: President Warren G. Harding spoke at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the founding of Birmingham, Alabama. Before a crowd of about 100,000 whites and African-Americans, he gave a strong civil rights message: “Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.” Reportedly his statement was greeted with complete silence. (see Dec 20)
October 26, 1937: the US Supreme Court declined to review the Haywood Patterson and Clarence Norris convictions. October 26, 1976: Alabama Governor George Wallace pardoned Clarence Norris.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
October 26, 1960: Coretta Scott King and others were seriously worried that King might be lynched while in custody. Word of this reached John Kennedy’s presidential election campaign team, and they decided that Kennedy should call her. Kennedy did, on this day, and expressed his sympathy about her husband’s situation. He did not promise to take any action, but his brother, Robert Kennedy called both the governor of Georgia and the judge in the case, and that was thought to have had some effect. King was promptly released the next day, on October 27, 1960.Word about Kennedy’s call circulated widely in the African-American community. Some political commentators believed the publicity gained Kennedy enough African-American votes to give him victory in the November presidential election, but others dispute this interpretation. (see Oct 27)
October 26, 1970: certain states and boxing commissions begin to consider allowing Ali to fight. After a three-year exile, Muhammad Ali returned to the ring in Atlanta to fight Jerry Quarry. Ali knocked out Quarry in the third round. (BH, see February 2, 1971: Ali, see March 8, 1971)
October 26, 1942: the USS South Dakota took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and shot down 26 Japanese planes. Graham's gun crew accounted for seven of them. (see Calvin Graham)
October 26, 1916: Margaret Sanger's clinic was raided by the vice squad and shut down. The women were arrested and all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic are confiscated. (Sanger freed on bail)In 1917, Margaret Sanger will meet Katharine McCormick at one of Sanger's Boston lectures, and struck up an enduring friendship. Sympathizing with Sanger's movement, McCormick made small contributions to the cause and smuggled diaphragms into the United States for Sanger's clinics. (see Feb 2)
October 26,1954: the Comic Book Code adopted on this day paralleled the earlier motion picture code (June 13, 1934) and was intended to “clean up” comic books so that they would not cause young people to become juvenile delinquents. The context of the code was a national panic over juvenile delinquency in the 1950s. (see October 24, 1955)
South Vietnam Leadership
October 26, 1955: Ngo Dinh Diệm proclaimed the formation of the Republic of Vietnam, with himself as its first President. Elections had been scheduled to reunify the country in 1956, but Diệm refused to hold them, claiming that a free election was not possible in the North. (Vietnam, see June 8, 1956; SVL, see May 9, 1957)
October 26, 1972: National security adviser Henry Kissinger declared "peace is at hand" in Vietnam. (related NYT article) (see Nov 11)
October 26, 1955: Rebel Without a Cause movie released. The NY Times states: It is a violent, brutal, and disturbing picture of modern teen-agers.... Young people neglected by their parents or given no understanding and moral support by fathers and mothers who are themselves unable to achieve balance and security in their home...It is a picture to make the hair stand on end. (Teenage Culture, see January 23, 1957)
Peter, Paul, and Mary
October 26 – November 1, 1963, a year after being the Billboard #1 album, Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary was again the #1 album. [Pete Seeger and Lee Hays wrote If I Had a Hammer in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary. The Weavers released the song under the title "The Hammer Song" as a 78 single in March, 1950 on Hootenanny Records.
October 26, 1965: Queen Elizabeth presented the Beatles with the Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal. (NYT article) (Beatles, see Dec 3; medals, see November 25, 1969)
The San Francisco Pop Festival
October 26 & 27, 1968, The San Francisco Pop Festival was held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. (article) (see Dec 28 – 30) Performers:
Eric Burdon & The Animals
Fraternity of Man
Buddy Miles Express
The Chambers Brothers
The Grass Roots
Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Loading Zone
The Cold War & Cuban Missile Crisis
October 26, 1962: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped. (see Cuban Missile Crisis)
October 26, 1973: the Yom Kippur War ends.
TERRORISM & Fourth Amendment
October 26, 2001: President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, giving authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists. (Terrorism, see Dec 11; Fourth, see June 27, 2002)
Iraq War II
October 26, 2005: American military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000 [MSNBC.com, 10/26/05] (see Dec 15)
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October 1692: Governor William Phipps of Massachusetts ordered the Court of Oyer and Terminer dissolved and replaced with the Superior Court of Judicature, which forbade the type of sensational testimony allowed in the earlier trials. Executions ceased, and the Superior Court eventually released all those awaiting trial and pardoned those sentenced to death. The Salem witch trials, which resulted in the executions of 19 innocent women and men, had effectively ended. (DP, see April 30, 1790)
“Of Husband and Wife”
1776 – 1830: state laws rather than federal law governed women’s rights in the early Republic and most of those laws were based on Sir William Blackstone’s 1769 "Of Husband and Wife" in his Commentaries on the Laws of England. In “Of Husband and Wife” he explained the legal concept of Coverture, whereby, upon marriage, a woman's legal rights were subsumed by those of her husband. He explained:By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-French a feme-covert; is said to be covert-baron, or under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. Upon this principle, of a union of person in husband and wife, depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and disabilities, that either of them acquire by the marriage. I speak not at present of the rights of property, but of such as are merely personal. For this reason, a man cannot grant any thing to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself: and therefore it is also generally true, that all compacts made between husband and wife, when single, are voided by the intermarriage. (see May 20, 1782)
October 16, 1916: birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. on this day in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She opened it with her sister, Ethel Byrne, who was a registered nurse. More than 100 women and about 20 men were lined up outside the two-room office on Amboy Street when Sanger opened the door. The clinic served 448 people that first day. (see Oct 26)
October 16 - 17, 1859: with a group of slaves and white abolitionists, John Brown led an capture a federal armory and arsenal in Harper’s Ferry,VA . A local militia under the leadership of Robert E Lee put down the insurrection. The raid hastened the advent of the Civil War, which started two years later. (see Oct 25 – Nov 2)
Booker T. Washington
October 16, 1901: President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute and the most prominent African American of his time, to a meeting in the White House. When the meeting went long, the President asked Washington to stay for dinner, the first African American to do so. The President’s act drew harsh criticism from some Southerners. (see February 18, 1903)
MARTIN LUTHER KING
October 16, 1962: Martin Luther King meets with President John F. Kennedy to discuss the issues King was involved with. (BH, see Nov 18; MLK see Nov 27)
Olympic Project for Human Rights
October 16, 1968: African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos placed first and third in the 200-meter dash at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. As the national anthem played during the medal ceremony, rather than hold their hands over their hearts and face the American flag, the two men bowed their heads and raised black gloved fists in a silent protest against racial discrimination in the United States. Both men wore black socks with no shoes and Smith also wore a black scarf around his neck. At a press conference following the demonstration, Smith explained he had raised his right fist to represent black power in America, while Carlos had raised his left fist to represent black unity. Smith said the black scarf represented black pride and the black socks without shoes were intended to signify black poverty in America.The demonstration was supported by Australian silver medalist Peter Norman, who wore a patch representing the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization established in 1967 that had urged athletes to boycott the Olympics to protest racial segregation in the United States, South Africa, and in sports generally. Two days after their gesture of protest, Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Olympic Village for allegedly violating the principles of the Olympic spirit.Despite their medal-winning performances, the two athletes faced intense criticism and received death threats upon returning home. At the time, their protest was largely perceived as a show of disrespect directed toward the American flag and national anthem, though supporters praised their bravery. Gradually, the symbolic importance of their protest came to be more widely recognized. Today, the image of the two men with fists and heads bowed is one of the most enduring symbols of the American civil rights struggle. (see Oct 18)
October 16, 1984: South African activist Bishop Desmond Tutu awarded Nobel Peace Prize. (see February 10, 1985)
The Million Man March
October 16, 1995: The Million Man March was held in Washington, D.C. The event was conceived by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. (see January 8, 1996)
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
October 16, 2011: the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was formally dedicated in Washington, D.C. (see February 24, 2012)
October 16, 1918: the 1918 Immigration Act, passed in the middle of anti-radical hysteria during World War I, amended the restrictive 1903 Immigration Act (passed on March 3, 1903) to expand the definition of, and restrictions on, anarchists. The new law barred the entry into the U.S., and allowed the deportation of, anarchists, who were defined as anyone teaching opposition to organized government, teaching the violent overthrow of government, or were members of organizations that advocated those ideas. It also repealed the provision in the 1903 law that had exempted from deportation immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for five years or longer.In the years ahead, additional restrictive immigration laws were passed. The 1924 Immigration Act, passed on May 26, 1924, imposed a national origins quota system that discriminated against people from Southern and Eastern Europe seeking to come to the U.S. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, effective June 27, 1952, was a Cold War measure that excluded alleged “subversives” from the U.S. and allowed the government to deport alleged “subversive” immigrants already in the U.S. The 1965 Immigration Act, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law on October 3, 1965, abolished the 1924 national origins quota system in favor of a non-discriminatory policy. (Anarchism, see Nov 11; Immigration, see May 19, 1921)
October 16 Peace Love Activism
October 16, 1964: China tested an atomic weapon for the first time thus becoming fifth nation with nuclear weapon capability joining the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. (see Feb 18, 1965) (NYT article)
October 16, 1965: anti-war rallies occur in 40 American cities and in international cities including London and Rome. (see Oct 30)(NYT article)
October 16 Music et al
Rock Venues #1
October 16, 1965: from Professor Poster Facebook page: … back in 1965…this rare "Poster From The Past" handbill advertised the very FIRST event promoted by the Family Dog at The Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. Ellen Harmon, one of the four original partners in the Family Dog collective, was an avid reader of Marvel comic books and she helped dedicate the first dance to “Dr. Strange,” Master of the Mystic Arts. The comic book theme continued through the next two dances, known as “A Tribute to Sparkle Plenty” and “A Tribute to Ming the Merciless,” both 1940s comic book characters. Alton Kelley, also an original Family Dog founder/partner, created the artwork for all three handbills and went on to do numerous others which are documented in the MANY poster that we love so much.Jefferson Airplane teamed up with first-time promoters, the Family Dog (Chet Helms, who would join later). They decided that the Longshoreman's Hall was a venue large enough to be filled with dancing bodies. Along with the Charlatans, the Marbles, and Great Society, Jefferson Airplane played the very first Family Dog concert. In the crowd, people dressed up in costumes happily danced along to the music. From this initial Family Dog concert, the San Francisco music scene would change forever. This handbill, measuring 8 1/2" x 11" is an extremely rare flyer printed on thin yellow/white paper. Because it comes from the earliest Family Dog show, it has become extremely sought after and VERY expensive!. This is a VERY SPECIAL and historic handbill that marks the very Beginning of what became a real movement here. (see Nov 6)
Paul McCartney/The Family Way
October 16, 1966: United Artists announced that the film was to be retitled All In Good Time, and that Lennon and McCartney would be writing the soundtrack together. It was eventually released as The Family Way and Lennon had no involvement in the music. (see Nov 7)
October 16, 1968: release of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 'Electric Ladyland' album. It was also made available as two albums with changed artwork after complaints about the naked women who were pictured on the inner sleeve. The female models were paid for the photo shoot and double if they posed completely naked. Hendrix was displeased with both. He had wanted one of the band and himself in NYC’s Central Park on an Alice in Wonderland statue. (see Nov 16 – 29)
Rock Venues #2
October 16, 2006: CBGB, the legendary New York punk club credited with discovering Patti Smith and Ramones, closed after a final gig by Smith herself. Blondie and Talking Heads also found fame after performing at the club, which helped launch US punk music. The venue first opened in December 1973, its full name CBGB OMFUG standing for "country, bluegrass, blues and other music for uplifting gormandizers".
October 16, 1967: Oakland CA police arrested thirty-nine people, including singer-activist Joan Baez, for blocking the entrance of that city's military induction center.
October 16, 1973: the Gulf Six (Iran, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) unilaterally raise the posted price of Saudi Light marker crude 17 percent from $3.12 to $3.65 per barrel and announce production cuts. (NYT article)
October 16, 1987: an Iranian Silkworm missile launched from the Iranian occupied Al-Faw Peninsula strikes the ship Sea Isle City. The missile struck the wheel house and crew quarters of the ship which was not carrying oil at the. A total of 18 crew members were wounded. (see Oct 19)
October 16, 1998: David Trimble and John Hume were named recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the Northern Ireland peace accord. (see November 29, 1999)
October 16, 2002: President George W. Bush signed a congressional resolution authorizing war against Iraq. (see Nov 27)
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