Some days, I feel like writing, and some days I don’t. I feel like writing today, and have no idea where I am headed. perhaps I will erase this line when I get there. Or not.
Living in the present moment, I sent another birthday card this morning. Our family like many others celebrates more birthdays in September than any other month. Years ago, when I was studying demography, we learned that September had the highest birth rate. Mostly, I suspect that’s because of new Year’s Eve parties.
It’s certainly true in David’s case. He a late baby, his mother had no planned pregnancy, and he was the caboose, arriving long after the elder brother and sister were old enough to look out for themselves.
So David got it into his head he was “unwanted” and even compiled a rather full photo album of himself he entitled The Unwanted Child.
After we met and married he moaned about being an unwanted child until one day I said, “For goodness sake, your mother was European, don’t you think she knew anything about abortion?” Both Pola and her sister had emigrated from Russia during the Revolution (they were White Russians). Both he and I knew she could have obtained an abortion if she had wanted one.
Until the Comstock Laws at the end of the nineteenth century, abortion in the US was quite common. (Evidence suggests abortion continued long afterward, but in fewer numbers.) In fact, evidence shows that women were very familiar with all sorts of birth control measures before the passage of the Comstock Laws.
The myth of the Victorian family is a MYTH. Birth rates dropped throughout the nineteenth century, reaching their nadir in the 1930s. Today, efforts in the years following immigration restrictions (end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries) by Susan B. Anthony and others to “introduce” birth control among the “toiling masses” are seen by some historians as a form of racism, based ideas concerning Social Darwinism.
Like Prohibition, part ‘moral’ mandate, part practical, the Comstock Laws were designed to stop the fall in birth rates among Native women.
The Comstock Law is a federal act passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1873, as the Act for the “Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use”. The Act empowered the U.S. Postal Service to refuse to handle through the mail erotica; contraceptive medications or devices; abortifacients; sexual implements, such as the ones used in masturbation; contraceptive information; and advertisements for contraception, abortion, or sexual implements. It made the use of the post for those purposes illegal and punishable. ~ Wikipedia
Interestingly, historians link the beginning of the Women’s Movement to the Seneca Falls meeting in 1848, before the passage of the Comstock Laws. I could go on and on with this history because I love it, but you know the rest. Like many human endeavors, the US has moved two steps forward and one step back over time….but it is remains an exceptional country because it predetermined the eventual enfranchisement of all its citizens at its founding.
My grandson Jacob turns fifteen next week. He is now taller than many in his age group, hovers over his mom, and is catching up with his dad. Seems like only yesterday he was a little boy. The height in our family comes down the line from English-descent folks. Great-Grandpa Nichols was huge. I told Aunt Audrey, my Mom’s sister, it must be the Viking blood in Dad’s family. One of these days, I am going to have that DNA test to prove it. Today, I need a Flu shot.
This morning, I have been working on Second Great Grandfather Jonas Nichols’ Civil War records. I think I have finally nailed it. He and his brothers registered for the federal draft in 1863, but joined the militia in New Hampshire. Jonas mustered out of the Union Army at Fort Camden Arkansas in 1865.
I am no military historian, but I think the ins and out of soldiers during the Civil War had to do with the formation of a standing army. Until the Civil War, state militias mobilized and went to war. With the Civil War standing armies formed in both the North and South. That graduate history degree I worked on for six years is paying off.