BLTC Press Titles

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The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Freedom of the press and "obscene" literature

by Theodore Schroeder



The late Dr. Edward Bliss Foote deposited, with his last will and testament, a letter wnich contained the following paragraph:

"To ray sons, or, in case of their demise, to their successors, I would say that my wishes would be that they give generously from the proceeds of my estate to all good movements for the maintenance of free press, free speech and free mails, the cause of heredity (i. e., stirpiculture, eugenics), liberalism, etc., which movements have as yet no sufficient legal organization to permit them to receive legacies. All projects that have for their object the improvement of the human family have ever enlisted my sympathies and my support, and my successors cannot better carry out my wishes than to give liberally to them."

Because of that request, and of his own devotion to the cause of freedom of speech, Dr. E. B. Foote, Jr., has furnished the money to print this pamphlet and gratuitously to circulate a large number of them in official circles. It is intended also to incorporate the Free Speech League, so that hereafter bequests may be made to further the ends of all friends of free inquiry.

Mr. Schroeder is preparing other arguments attacking the validity of various laws which now abridge the freedom of speech and press, which other essays we also desire to publish. A Free Press Anthology is also in preparation, and should be given a wide circulation.

To that end, as well as the wider dissemination of these essays we invite contributions from all lovers of intellectual hospitality. Remittances should be sent to Dr. E. B. Foote, Jr., Treasurer, 120 Lexington Avenue, New York City,

Ever for Truth, Justice and Liberty,


E. W. Chamberlain, Pres.

10 W. 61st Street, N. Y. City.




October n, 1906.

Your committee appointed to secure for Purity workers that liberty of press and speech essential to the Purity Propaganda would report as follows:—

We desire to express our hearty and unqualified endorsement of the purpose for which the laws for the suppression of vice and the punishment of those who send obscene literature through the United States mails, were originally framed ; we wish also to express our earnest desire for even a larger exercise of these laws in the accomplishment of the original purpose, which must have been in the minds of those who framed and enacted these laws.

In view, however, of the fact that Purity workers are constantly placed in jeopardy because of the uncertainty of the judicial test of obscenity and because these laws have in some instances been made the means of injustice and cruel wrong ; and in view of the fact also that the indefinite character of the law renders it impossible for anyone to know whether he is acting within the law or is violating the law, and because the law has been made a menace and a hindrance to many earnest workers whose efficient help is most seriously needed, your Committee would therefore make the following recommendations :

Resolved, That the President be empowered to appoint a permanent committee of seven of whom he shall be one, who shall seek to secure such changes in the judicial tests of obscenity as will make the law so certain that by reading it anyone may know what constitutes its violation and to secure such an interpretation of the law as will make impossible the suppression of any scientific and educational Purity literature.

We would also recommend that this Committee be authorized to co-operate with organizations, individuals and courts, in affording any help in their power to apprehend, convict and punish the disseminators of literature truly obscene and of perverters of youth ; it shall, however, at the same time be the duty of this Committee to seek to afford the defense and protection so much needed by earnest and sincere Purity workers who are now constantly exposed to the dangers of prosecution by the uncertainty of the very laws which they desire to cherish and obey.

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