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Encyclopedia > Anthony Comstock
Portrait of Anthony Comstock
Portrait of Anthony Comstock

Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 - September 21, 1915) was a former United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality. Photograph of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915). ... Photograph of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915). ... March 7 is the 66th day of the year (67th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Jan. ... September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1915 (MCMXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar). ... Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India Victorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837 - 1901) in particular, and to the moral climate of Great Britain throughout the 19th century in...


He was born in New Canaan, Connecticut. As a young man, he enlisted and fought for the Union in the American Civil War from 1863 to 1865.[1] He served without incident, but objected to the profanity used by his fellow soldiers.[citation needed]Afterward he became an active worker in the Young Men's Christian Association in New York City.[2] New Canaan is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States, 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Stamford, on the Five Mile River. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... 1865 (MDCCCLXV) is a common year starting on Sunday. ... This article is about the association. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ...


In 1873 Comstock created the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, an institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public. Later that year, Comstock successfully influenced the United States Congress to pass the Comstock Law, which made illegal the delivery or transportation of both "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" material as well as any methods of, or information pertaining to, birth control. George Bernard Shaw coined the term comstockery, meaning "censorship because of perceived obscenity or immorality" [3], after Comstock alerted the New York police to the content of Shaw's play Mrs. Warren's Profession. Shaw remarked that "Comstockery is the world's standing joke at the expense of the United States. Europe likes to hear of such things. It confirms the deep-seated conviction of the Old World that America is a provincial place, a second-rate country-town civilization after all." 1873 (MDCCCLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (SSV) was founded in 1873 by Anthony Comstock and his supporters in the Young Mens Christian Association. ... -1... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political groups (as of November 7, 2006 elections) Democratic Party Republican... The Comstock Law was a 19th century United States law that made it illegal to send any obscene, lewd, or lascivious books through the mail. ... Birth control is a regimen of one or more actions, devices, or medications followed in order to deliberately prevent or reduce the likelihood of a woman becoming pregnant or giving birth. ... George Bernard Shaw (born 26 July 1856, Dublin, Ireland died November 2, 1950, Hertfordshire, England) was an Irish writer. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Comstock's ideas of what might be "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" were quite broad. During his time of greatest power, even some anatomy textbooks were prohibited from being sent to medical students by the United States Postal Service. Human heart and lungs, from an older edition of Grays Anatomy. ... For other uses, see Textbook (disambiguation). ... The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the United States government (see 39 U.S.C. Â§ 201) responsible for providing postal service in the U.S. Within the United States, it is colloquially referred to simply as the post office. ...

1887 Letter from Anthony Comstock to Josiah Leeds
1887 Letter from Anthony Comstock to Josiah Leeds

Comstock aroused intense loathing from early civil liberties groups and intense support from church based groups worried about public morals. He was a savvy political insider in New York City and was made a special agent of the United States Postal Service, with police powers up to and including the right to carry a weapon. With this power he zealously prosecuted those he suspected of either public distribution of pornography or commercial fraud, his twin obessions. His efforts to suppress public information on sex education materials and birth control is now often viewed as misguided and medically irresponsible. He was also involved in shutting down the Louisiana Lottery, the only legal lottery in the United States at the time, and notorious for corruption. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (538x775, 73 KB)1887 letter from Anthony Comstock to Josiah Leeds. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (538x775, 73 KB)1887 letter from Anthony Comstock to Josiah Leeds. ... Civil liberties are protections from the power of governments. ... It has been suggested that Ecclesia (Church) be merged into this article or section. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the United States government (see 39 U.S.C. Â§ 201) responsible for providing postal service in the U.S. Within the United States, it is colloquially referred to simply as the post office. ... Pornographic movies Pornography (Porn) (from Greek πόρνη (porne) prostitute and γραφή (grafe) writing), more informally referred to as porn or porno, is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. ... Sex education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sexual behavior. ... Birth control is a regimen of one or more actions, devices, or medications followed in order to deliberately prevent or reduce the likelihood of a woman becoming pregnant or giving birth. ... A ticket from the February 12th, 1889 Louisiana State Lottery The Louisiana State Lottery Company was a private corporation that in the mid-19th century ran the Louisiana lottery. ...


Comstock is also known for his persecution of Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, and those associated with them. The men's journal The Days Doings had popularised lewd images of the sisters for three years and was instructed by its editor (while Comstock was present) to stop producing images of "lewd character". Comstock also took legal action against the paper for advertising contraceptives. When the sisters published an expose of an adulterous affair between Reverend Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Tilton, he had the sisters imprisoned under laws forbidding the use of the postal service to distribute 'obscene material' - though they were later found 'not guilty'. Victoria Woodhull Victoria Claflin Woodhull (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927) was an American suffragist who was one of the early leaders of the American womans suffragette movement in the 19th century. ... Tennessee Celeste Claflin Tennessee Celeste Claflin (October 26, 1844 – January 18, 1923), also known as Tennie C., was an American suffragette best known as one of the first women to open a Wall Street brokerage firm. ... This article or section needs a complete rewrite for the reasons listed on the talk page. ...


Less fortunate was Ida Craddock, who committed suicide on the eve of reporting to Federal prison for distributing via the U.S. Mail various sexually explicit marriage manuals she had authored. Her final work was a lengthy public suicide note specifically condemning Comstock. Portrait of Ida Craddock Ida C. Craddock (1857-1902) was a 19th century American advocate of free speech and womens rights. ...


Comstock claimed he drove fifteen persons to suicide in his "fight for the young". He was head vice-hunter of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Comstock, the self-labeled "weeder in God's garden", arrested D. M. Bennett for publishing his "An Open Letter to Jesus Christ" and later entrapped the editor for mailing a free-love pamphlet. Bennett was prosecuted, subjected to a widely publicized trial, and imprisoned in the Albany Penitentiary. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (SSV) was founded in 1873 by Anthony Comstock and his supporters in the Young Mens Christian Association. ...


He had numerous enemies, and in later years his health was affected by a severe blow to the head from an anonymous attacker. He lectured to college audiences and wrote newspaper articles to sustain his causes. Before his death, Comstock attracted the interest of a young law student, J. Edgar Hoover, interested in his causes and methods. John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was an influential but controversial director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). ...


During his career, Comstock clashed with Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. Through his various campaigns, he caused the arrest of more than 3,000 persons, destroyed 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing 'objectionable' books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. [4] Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) aka Red Emma, was a Lithuanian-born anarchist known for her writings and speeches. ... Margaret Higgins Sanger (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American birth control activist, an advocate of negative eugenics, and the founder of the American Birth Control League (which eventually became Planned Parenthood). ...


A biography of Comstock written in 1927, "Anthony Comstock: Roundsman Of The Lord" by Heywood Broun and Margaret Leech of the Algonquin Round Table examines his personal history and his investigative, surveillance and law enforcement techniques. Heywood Broun was a reporter, sportswriter and newspaper columnist in New York City. ... Margaret Kernochan Leech (1893-1974) was an American author and historian, who won two Pulitzer Prizes in history, for her books Reveille in Washington (1942) and In the Days of McKinley (1960). ... The Algonquin Round Table was a group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits that met from 1919 until about 1929, though its legacy endured long afterward. ...

Contents

Works

  • Frauds Exposed (1880)
  • Traps for the Young (1883)
  • Gambling Outrages (1887)
  • Morals Versus Art (1887)

He wrote numerous magazine articles relating to similar subjects.


References in fiction and culture

  • Comstock is one of many prominent New Yorkers of his time that appear in the historical fiction novel The Alienist, by Caleb Carr.
  • James Branch Cabell was prosecuted on obscenity charges relating to his novel Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice after lobbying by the Society. Cabell retaliated with a chapbook entitled "The Judging of Jurgen" (later inserted into subsequent reprints of the novel), in which the title character is consigned to oblivion for being "obscene, lewd, lascivious and indecent" in a trial presided over by a dung beetle who swears "by Saint Anthony".
  • One of the four "point of view" characters in Marge Piercy's novel Sex Wars is Anthony Comstock. Piercy explores Comstock's personal history and mindset as he goes from clerk to active "vice" suppressor. The novel pays particular attention to his persecution of Victoria Woodhull (another point of view character) and Tennesse Claflin, and a fictitious condom maker, Freydeh Levin (the fourth point of view character).
  • Comstock Films, a company that produces sexual explicit erotic documentaries, is named after Anthony Comstock.

The Alienist is a novel from 1994 (ISBN 0-553-57299-7), written by Caleb Carr. ... Caleb Carr (born August 2, 1955) is an American novelist and noted military historian. ... Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American Jazz Age author of novels and short stories. ... The Beautiful and Damned , F. Scott Fitzgeralds second novel, tells the story of Anthony Patch (a 1920s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoons fortune), and the relationship with his wife Gloria, his service in the army, and alcoholism. ... James Branch Cabell photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 James Branch Cabell (April 14, 1879 - May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. ... Symbol of the Society which failed in its attempt to ban the book. ... A modern day chapbook. ... A dung beetle, with a shovel-like head, rolling a dung ball with its hindlegs. ... Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. ... Sex Wars can refer to: The Feminist Sex Wars of the late 1970s through the 1980s. ... Victoria Woodhull Victoria Claflin Woodhull (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927) was an American suffragist who was one of the early leaders of the American womans suffragette movement in the 19th century. ... A condom is a device, usually made of latex, or more recently polyurethane, that is used during sexual intercourse. ...

See also

The Comstock Law was a 19th century United States law that made it illegal to send any obscene, lewd, or lascivious books through the mail. ... The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (SSV) was founded in 1873 by Anthony Comstock and his supporters in the Young Mens Christian Association. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Anthony Comstock - Encyclopedia.com (946 words)
As secretary of the society until his death, Comstock was responsible for the destruction of 160 tons of literature and pictures.
The groom is the son of Stephen and Roseann Comstock of East Syracuse.
V.S., Boston A. That was Anthony Comstock, a pudgy, mutton-chopped reformer...
Anthony Comstock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (493 words)
Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 - September 21, 1915) was a United States reformer dedicated to imposing his ideas of Victorian morality.
In 1873 Comstock created the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, an institution dedicated to supervising the morality of the public.
Comstock is also known for his persecution of Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, and those associated with them.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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