The Early Life of Puritan Crusader Anthony Comstock

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Though little is known about Anthony Comstock’s personal life, Comstock became fairly well-known in the 19th century and beyond because of his crusade against anything he considered immoral. The namesake of the Comstock Laws, he was the leader in destroying so-called lewd and obscene material. Comstock often boasted that he had burned and destroyed more than 160 tons of inappropriate literature.

Born in Connecticut in 1844, it is known that Comstock served in The Civil War from 1863-1865 and had nine siblings. During the war, Comstock, who learned his strong Puritan values from his mother, became even more deeply entrenched in his religious beliefs as he watched fellow soldiers drink, swear and hook up with prostitutes.

Comstock and his Campaign to End Indecency

After the war, the zealot spent some time as a salesman in New York City selling dry goods. During this time Comstock married a woman named Margaret. Together the couple had one daughter who died in her first year. Comstock later adopted another daughter from the streets.

Eventually, Comstock began working with the Young Men’s Christian Association. Up until that point, Comstock had been conducting private investigations into anything he considered immoral on his own. With the help of the YMCA, Comstock was able to leave his job as a salesman and concentrate on his mission.

Soon, Comstock would be targeting what may have seemed like everyone in New York City. Continue reading about Anthony Comstock and the Comstock Laws.

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