The American Vigilance Association
Clifford G. Roe
The American Vigilance Association is the tangible evidence of determination on the part of several organizations in America to concentrate their energies in the fight against the white slave traffic. It is backed by practical business men of the east and west, and by some of the foremost men and women in educational and social work, who have consented to serve on its executive board, to lend their influence in the guidance of its policy, and to give their advice in the perfecting of the various departments of work. The president is David Starr Jordan; vice presidents, Cardinal Gibbons and Dean Sumner ; treasurer, Charles L. Hutchinson of Chicago, and the executive secretary and general counsel, Clifford G. Roe. The executive board consists at the present time of the following members: Clifford W. Barnes, chairman; John G. Shedd, Julius Rosenwald, Henry F. Crowell, A. C. Bartlett and Jane Addams, all of Chicago; Grace H. Dodge and James Bronson Reynolds, of New York; Dr. O. Edward Janney, of Baltimore; Wallace Simmons, of St. Louis; Charles Bentley, of San Francisco; Henry J. Dannenbaum, of Houston.
The purpose of the association is "To suppress and prevent commercialized vice and to promote the highest standard of public and private morals. To accomplish this purpose, the association shall strive for the constant, persistent and absolute repression of prostitution and the passage and enforcement of laws, for the rescue and protection of girls and women, for the promotion of knowledge of the social evil, its effects and results, and for the circulation of
(807) the best literature regarding it." This is proof that there is to be no compromise with methods of regulating vice by segregation and police rules; and Indicates that law enforcement will be insisted upon in every community where prostitution has fastened itself securely. The house of prostitution is the market place where young girls are ruined, and where they are often sold for cash—as such, the disorderly house as an institution must go.
If the white slave traffic is to be wiped out—and it will be—the demand must be checked by education and by an insistent appeal to the conscience of men that will bring finally a single standard of morals; the supply must also be checked by education—by better industrial conditions for working girls; better recreation facilities, and decent housing will have their effect on both the supply and demand. The owner of the house, the keeper, the cadet and the procurers must all be attacked at the same time relentlessly; law enforcement, investigation, protection and education must be pursued at the same time, so that there will be effected a gradual closing in on the promoters of the traffic in women. The Vigilance Association believes it has a business organization that can do this thing.
The plan of campaign is suggested by the division of the work into the following departments:
Organization and promotion; Finance; Investigation; Legislation and law enforcement; International co-operation; Rescue and protection; Education; Library and editorial.
At the head of each of these departments will be an expert, who is acknowledged to be an authority in his field; so-called directors will do the active work in carrying out the policy and plans drawn up in consultation with the chairman. The general secretary will have general supervision and direction of the activities in all the departments, and will have at hand the threads of the three offices, which are to be situated in San Francisco, Chicago (central office) and New York (library and editorial department) ; the Department of Legislation and Law Enforcement will have an office in Washington, D. C.
Through its Department of Investigation, which is directed by George J. Kneeland, the association will stand ready to be of assistance to cities which are aroused to conditions and want trained investigators to go over the ground thoroughly. Such an investigation will mean a study of state laws and city ordinances relating to the moral and physical life of the community, a study of the machinery of government responsible for the enforcement of these laws and ordinances such as the Courts, Board of Aldermen, Department of Health and Police Department, and third, a field investigation of existing conditions.
There are any number of laws for the suppression of the social evil in every state in the Union. The owner and agent of property used for immoral purposes, the keepers of disorderly houses, the inmates, panders, procurers and cadets, the disorderly saloons and resorts—are all under the ban of the law, but as Mr. Kneeland says : "The ignorance of these laws and ordinances on the part of many good citizens is appalling, while the knowledge of them displayed by the vicious and those who defend them in the courts is amazing."
It is perfectly useless, of course, to be moral on the statute books, and unmoral or indifferent in enforcing the laws that indicate a desire on someone's part for decency. A half-hearted moral feeling and a great deal of hypocrisy on the part of a legislature,—some of whose members have been actually proved
(808) to be engaged in the traffic in women,—has not added anything to encourage the few who have to come in contact with the rottenness of political graft.
Following the completion of the investigation will come publicity, and the co-operation of the citizens whose aid will be offered without doubt when the situation is seen by the light of day. It will probably be desirable in many cases to form committees or associations of which the best men and women interested in civic affairs shall be members, so that the recommendations will with certainty be acted upon.
The Department of Legislation and Law Enforcement will make a comprehensive study of existing laws throughout this country and abroad; in fact, this is now well under way. Then tried and effective legislation will be recommended to all states, and the law enforcement work will be pushed to the limit. The chairman of this department is James Bronson Reynolds.
The educational problem which means, of course, education with reference to sex, is a difficult one and will be worked out slowly to produce the best methods of teaching sex hygiene. Courses should be scientifically planned for normal schools, so that yearly trained teachers may be graduated who are alive to the vital importance of the subject. Simple outlines of study should be available so that groups of different characters will have a guide as to the best way of approach, which authorities have devised. It is a dangerous subject to experiment with, and that is probably the reason why people have left the most important function of the body severely alone. Scientific knowledge, judgment, intuition—each are needed in turn—the last two must be inborn to develop, but the first can be given to all those who are willing to study. With this in mind, the Vigilance Association is expecting to give a course for teachers at the eastern office in July, so that the great number of students who come into New York for summer school work may have this opportunity for training. They will have at their disposal a well equipped library, which brings us to the library and editorial department.
The library classification includes all those subjects which are closely related to any study of prostitution and the white slave traffic, its causes, results and means of prevention. It has been collecting for the last three years (as part of the work of the National Vigilance Committee) material in the form of books, pamphlets, leaflets, papers and newspaper clippings from all over the country, and has a complete file of laws (concerning offences vs. chastity), which are kept up to date. An outline of the classification is given below in order that the point of view and resources of the library may be made clear:
PROSTITUTION (Segregation, State Regulation, White Slave Traffic).
Recreation; Dance Halls, Amusement Parks, Playgrounds, etc.
Economics; Wages, Women, Labor, Children, Employment Bureaus, etc.
Housing; Bad Conditions in Tenements, Congestion, etc.
Family Ethics; Marriage, Divorce, etc., Illegitimacy.
Diseases (Venereal) ; Feeble-mindedness, Degeneracy, Insanity etc., Hospitals.
Immigration; Protection of Immigrants, Dangers of Transportation, etc.
Liquor Question; Saloons, Raines Law Hotels, Dance Halls, Disorderly Houses, etc.
Criminal Law ; Federal and State, City Ordinances, Foreign Laws and Ordinances, District Attorneys Reports of : Chiefs of Police, Magistrates' Courts.
(809) Juvenile Courts, White Slave Cases, Decisions in Disorderly House Cases, Record of Convictions in White Slave Cases throughout the country.
Police; Control of Prostitution, Methods, etc., Magistrates' Courts, Probation, etc.
Custodial Cars; Penal and Reformatory Institutions, Houses of Detention, etc., State Farms for Women.
EDUCATION WITH REFERENCE TO SEX; Biology (The Science of Life).
Nature Study, etc.; Eugenics (Science dealing with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race), Heredity, etc.
The plan of work is, in brief, this:
First. The collection of material.
Second. Sifting material, preparing recommended lists of books and bibliographies, inducing libraries in this country to put the books recommended on their shelves; acting as agency for the best books.
Third. Carrying on inquiries, such as : the number of schools teaching sex hygiene, their methods of teaching; number of cities which have segregated districts (completed) ; relation between prostitution and low wages (now being carried on) ; etc.
Fourth. Acting as a Bureau of Information on any facts in connection with our work. All inquiries will be promptly attended to.
Fifth. Working out a means of communication whereby we may be informed concerning the efforts of other organizations in the United States and abroad.
The library expects to stand for the best literature in education with reference to sex, and as many people are turning to this field as a good one financially, there is a great mass of worthless stuff in circulation. An increasing demand for material along this line creates an immediate necessity for substituting the good for the bad.
The Department of International Co-operation will continue the relationship between the organizations in foreign countries and the American Vigilance Association. In eighteen countries there are Vigilance Associations or Committees, which are affiliated through the International Bureau in London. It will be the business of this Department to keep in close touch with our own government, which is doing good work on the white slave traffic through its Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation and Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Immigration. It will answer the numerous inquiries that come from abroad in regard to situations which foreign girls expect to enter in some capacity. Almost always they are legitimate, but many times it has been found on investigation that a girl would have gone into a disorderly resort, or saloon, if she had not been safeguarded in this way.
Through all the departments of work runs the spirit of co-operation, and we wish to extend this policy beyond our own organization to others which are now in the field. It is not the purpose of the Vigilance Association to absorb the numerous small societies with the same interests, but to push the work whenever it is possible, to act promptly and to make it clear that the American Vigilance Association is a growing force to be reckoned with.
CLIFFORD G. ROE, Executive Secretary and General Counsel.