The period of reconstruction following The Civil War was a time of uncertainty. The war had changed the way many people saw the world and had brought about advances in both industrial and social areas.
To many, the advances were unacceptable. Chief among those who objected was Anthony Comstock, for whom the Comstock Laws were named. In an effort to protect the youth of the United States and rid the country of indecency, Comstock went on a crusade and destroyed hundreds of thousands of pounds of pornography and other literature he deemed indecent.
Supporters of Anthony Comstock
While there were plenty of people who decried Comstock’s efforts as meddling and overzealous, there also were many who supported his movement. Much of the social elite publicly supported and approved of his work.
Shortly after his death, The New Republic ran an editorial eulogizing Comstock, writing “The idea of giving up your life to suppressing these dirty trades probably would not ever occur to you. Anthony Comstock is the exceptional man to whom this idea did occur and who acted on it.”
And the paper was not alone. Despite the work he had done attacking many female rights advocates, Elizabeth Blackwell agreed with Comstock’s ideas about the affects of pornography on young people. Perhaps a bit more privately, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton also supported Comstock, as the two women did not believe in the use of contraception.
Comstock also found support from many book publishers and in the vast majority of American churches.
Despite much opposition to Comstock’s campaign, he was not without supporters at the time of his death in 1915.
Read about Comstock’s campaign against indecency in his own words.
- Anthony Comstock. nndb.com
- Carlson, Allan. Pure Visionary: The Life and Times of Anthony Comstock, Moral Crusader. Touchstonemag.com
- Anthony Comstock. jahsonic.com.