The Illinois Vigilance Association Annual Meeting

Melbourne P. Boynton

An emphatic note of protest against the white slave traffic was struck February 8th, at the annual meeting of the Illinois Vigilance Association, held in the Y.M.C.A. auditorium. Clergymen, members of the other professions, representative workers in the cause of better conditions for wo-

( 18) men, sociologists and interested laymen participated in the discussions, which were directed toward the abolition of the international, as well as the national, white slave traffic.


Prominent among the speakers was James Bronson Reynolds, of New York, a member of the National Vigilance Association, who has investigated the traffic in women in Japan, China and Panama, as well as on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. Mr, Reynolds spoke on "The Nation and the White Slave Trade."

Other speakers were Bishop C. P. Anderson, chairman of the conference; Mrs. Charles Henrotin; Dr. Winfield Scott Hall, professor of physiology at Northwestern University; Revs. M. P. Boynton and F. A. Bell, chairman and secretary of the Illinois Vigilance Association; Judge Julian W. Mack and Clifford G. Roe, assistant state's attorney.

"The white slave traffic became an international question," said Mr. Reynolds, "when, through the initiative of France, treaties were entered into by the leading civilized nations providing for a bureau in each government for information and correspondence regarding the white slave traffic between nations. Federal machinery in each government for the investigation of railroad stations and ports of entry for the purpose of detecting criminal traffic in foreign women and punishing the offenders also was provided for, and provision made for proper care of foreign victims of the white slave traffic and their return to their native land by the government holding them,  -

"The victims of this traffic are numbered by the thousands yearly," continued the speaker. "Alert agents move from place to place luring farmers' daughters daughters from their homes, and entrapping innocent girls at railway stations and resorts. Girls who go to the cities to seek their fortunes and fail are caught by these harpies, the agents of an organized `white slave' system."

Mr. Reynolds said that the white slave traffic was one of world-wide extent, with its local, interstate, national and international ramifications. A large capital was interested in it; high-salaried representatives were scattered through various countries, states and cities; able lawyers were paid heavy fees to hoodwink judges, while the victims were to be numbered in the thousands yearly.

"The United States is misjudged in the Orient, because of our lack of care as to our reputation there. In many oriental cities, notably in Hongkong, Shanghai and Yokohama, the most showy and stylishly dressed of the occupants of their red light districts are American women. Just as we Americans derive our chief impression of the Chinese nation from the Chinese quarters in Boston, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, so the Chinese, in their home, form their impression of -Americans from the American communities in the Orient in which these women arc most in evidence.

"Provision should he made by law so that protection of American citizenship, imprudently flaunted in the Orient by dissolute women and other outlaws, may be, withdrawn. Protection sought in the name of American citizenship should bring good character as its credential."

Mrs. Charles Henrotin, speaking on "The Women's Protest Against the White Slave Traffic," told the members of the association that the question could not be handled alone by the police, but said the help of the women of the country was needed as well.

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"Police are not educationally and tempermentally capable of handling this, the greatest of the social evils of the present day," she said. "The task is so difficult and so delicate that without the aid of women the evil will never abolished. In Iowa the women are urging the adoption of a law by the present legislature along a preventive line, which shows the activity of the women in our sister state."

"Women have not been indifferent, but silent on this subject," said she. "The time has now come when women must lay aside all false modesty and take a hand in the solution of this dangerous problem. Our girls must be educated so that they may protect themselves. Silence may have been all right when girls were kept within the reach of home influences ; but now silence is dangerous.

"In my opinion the solution of the social evil must be assigned to the charge of a special commission made up of doctors, ministers, lawyers and women. The emancipator of the white slaves will be a woman; a woman strong enough, wise enough and brave enough to fight the battle of the new slavery."

The local situation was referred to by another speaker, Ernest A. Bell, in the following words:

"In the First ward of Chicago, said to be the richest ward in the world, are nearly two miles of indecent resorts. Since a district in this ward was thrown open to this most diabolical commerce, blameless Chicago girls have been lured to apartments in Wabash avenue, tinder the shadow of churches ofcathedral importance, and then sold into the adjacent white slave market—the illegal red light district."

"The only righteous attitude of government toward all crime and vice is eternal antagonism," said Mr. Bell. "The government should educate the people concerning the frightful effects of vice, and never encourage these ruinous, practices. The responsibilities of government in this connection are nothing less than awful. It is like maintaining a thou- 'sand pest houses, not for purposes of quarantine, but with the sole result of advertising and spreading the pestilence."

Assistant State's Attorney Roe advocated stricter marriage laws as one remedy for some of the evils which exist. He cited a case in which a woman had been kept a slave through a marriage license which the man had obtained under a false name. He said the regulation of marriage should be a protective measure.

"This form of slavery which has sprung up among us can be weeded out only by legislation, law enforcement, publicity and education,'" he concluded.

   At the annual meeting of the Illinois Vigilance Association, which followed the conference, officers were elected as follows:

President-Rev. Melbourne P. Boynton.
Treasurer--George E. Roberts, President of the Commercial National Bank.
Recording Secretary—Mrs. Alice E. Bates,
Corresponding Secretary—Rev. Ernest A. Bell.

Thirty vice presidents were elected, including prominent ministers, lawyers and business men and women.

First Annual Report


The beginnings of the Illinois Vigilance Association date from the address of the late Rev. Sidney C. Kendall on the White Slave Traffic, at the National Purity Conference, held in Chicago, at Abraham Lincoln Center, in October, 1906. Mr. Kendall was a member of the National

( 20) Vigilance Committee, of which Dr. O. Edward Janney, of Baltimore, is Chairman. Thereafter the cause of the white slaves lay heavy on the hearts of a number of men and women, particularly Deaconess Lucy A. Hall, whose insistence that something be done led, ultimately, to the organization of this Association.

In the autumn of 1907, Mrs. Ida Evans Haines obtained a copy of a report of the Episcopal Diocese, of Massachusetts, on Social Purity, and the ravages of the diseases that are the wages of sin, At Mrs. Haines' request, Rev. Morton Culver Hartzell, organized a committee of ministers of various denominations, of which Rev. Dr. Swift, of Austin, was Chairman, and Rev. Dr. Cain, of Edgewater, Secretary. Under authority of this committee, a meeting was held at the Y. M. C. A. lecture room in November, 1907, which was addressed by Miss Rose Johnson, of Panama. Out of this meeting came the "Committee for Suppression of Traffic in Vice." of which Dr. Cain was Chairman. This committee employed an investigator and was appalled by the revelation of conditions in Chicago, existing not only in so-called red light districts, but also in residence districts. The activity of this Committee for the Suppression of Traffic in Vice attracted a much larger number of persons, who promoted numerous meetings, which culminated in the union meeting of ministers to consider the suppression of the white slave traffic in Chicago and Illinois, on February 10th, 1908, in this auditorium.

At that meeting Bishop Wm. F. McDowell presided ; the devotional service was led by Rev. A. H. Harnly; prayer was offered by Rev. A. C. Dixon. Addresses were made as follows: "Chicago's White Slave Market; the Illegal Red Light District," by Rev. Ernest A. Bell. "The White Slaves and the Law," by Mr. Clifford G. Roe. "The International White Slave Traffic," by Dr. O. Edward Janney, of Baltimore. "The Lost," by Mrs. Raymond Robins.

Judge Fake spoke briefly, and a letter was read from Judge Sadler.

At that meeting, it was determined to proceed with the organization of a State Association for the suppression of the white slave traffic in IIlinois. That same afternoon, February 10th, 1908, a largely attended meeting representing ministers' meetings, settlements, clubs, temperance and other reform organizations, set themselves to establish the "Illinois Vigilance Association."[1]


From the first it was sought to make this Association effective throughout the entire State, by forming auxiliary organizations in the large centers, whose chairmen would become members of the ruling body of the Association. This State-wide work will be undertaken as soon as means are forthcoming.

Much time and thought have been given to the selection of a President who would worthily execute the work of the Association, but up to the present hour we have failed to secure such a man or woman. In the meantime, the writer has consented to serve as Temporary Chairman of the Association. It is much to be desired that some strong, thoroughly consecrated business man, or some rarely gifted woman, may be found who will assume the obligations and high opportunities of the Presidency of this Association. The following well-

( 21) known men and women have consented to serve :as Vice Presidents:


Bishop C. P. Anderson, Ferdinand L. Barnett, Dr. Daniel R. Brower; Judge McKenzie Cleland, Henry P. Crowell, A. C. Dixon, D.D. T. F. Dornblaser, D. D., Arthur Burrage Farwell, F. W. Gunsaulus, D. D., Martin D. Hardin, D. D., President A. W. Harris, LL, D., N. W. Harris, Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, Mrs. Charles Henrotin, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, D. D., Adolf Kraus, Silas J. Llewellyn, Judge Julian W. Mack, Bishop W. F. McDowell, Dr. J. B. Murphy, Rev. Peter J. O'Callaghan, Rev. Herman Page, Mrs. Raymond Robins, Rabbi Tobias Schanfarber, John C. Shaffer, John Balcom Shaw, D. D., Prof. Albion W. Small, Prof. Graham Taylor. Wm. O. Waters, D. D., Prof. Herbert L. Willett, Milton H. Wilson.

Our Treasurer is Mr. George E. Roberts, President of the Commercial National Bank; Mrs. Alice E. Bates, of the Chicago Woman's Club, is our Recording Secretary. There are four Standing Committees: on

Legislation ; Education; Law Enforcement, and Rescue. The officers, with the heads of co-operating bodies, constitute the Officers' Council, which is the central ruling body of the Association.


Our total receipts for the year have been $529.81, of which we have paid to the Chicago Law and Order League, $130.00, which is perhaps one-tenth of what the White Slave Reform has cost that League in the past year. With so scant an income, our work for this first year has necessarily been inspirational, rather than directly executive. We have had an essential part in securing the enactment of the new Pandering Law, which is directed against procurers and those who detain women and girls in criminal resorts. This law is now being used as the model for new legislation in the State of New York, the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In securing this law, credit is due judge Julian W. Mack, Mr, Clifford G. Roe, Mr. Adolf Kraus and the Chicago Law and Order League. Actions brought under this law have always resulted in convictions. Both men and women panderers are now undergoing punishment under this. act of the last legislature.

We have distributed as generously as our means allowed, circulars of information, and articles from the pen of the United States District Attorney, Edwin W. Sims.

Edwin W. Sims, as everyone knows, has won imperishable honor by his prosecution of the traffickers in alien girls. Nearly one hundred cases have been brought in the Federal Courts against offenders against the Immigration Act of February 20th, 1907. The work of Mr. Sims has undoubtedly been the great achievement of the year 1908 against the white slave traffic.

The most conspicuous criminals of this order were Alphonse and Eva Dufour, against each of whom five indictments were voted by the Federal Grand Jury at the end of July, for importing and harboring alien girls. After spending some weeks in jail, the Dufours were released upon bonds of $26,500. They immediately fled to France.

Mr. Sims has stated publicly that the Illinois Vigilance Association brought to his notice the large importation of foreign girls into this city. The work of Mr. Clifford G. Roe, Assistant State's Attorney, ranks in our own commonwealth with that of Mr. Sims on behalf of the nation. These officials show the value of association's like ours. These alert, fearless men are prompt to exert the strong arm of the law when they are supported by a quickened public conscience finding its expression in such associations as ours, and its application in the hands of such officials as the Honorable Edwin W.

( 22) Sims, and the Honorable Clifford G. Roe.

Our Chicago newspapers and magazines have taken hold heartily of this most necessary reform. The Chicago Tribune has committed itself, editorially, without reserve, to do its utmost for the extinction of the white slave traffic. "Woman's World" has distributed more than four million copies of the articles of Attorney Sims, and will shortly distribute two million additional copies of each article. The church press has co-operated heartily in our efforts. Dr. David D. Thompson, the lamented editor of the Northwestern Christian Advocate, was among the very first to recognize and encourage our work, when our cause was obscure and unknown.

At our request, church bodies in National and State conventions have called upon the whole Christian constituency of the nation to antagonize the frightful traffic in girls, by appealing to parents, teachers, editors and preachers to awake to the dangers that imperil American youth, by ceasing not to inform and alarm ail who may be in jeopardy. The unflinching resolutions adopted by the Methodist General Conference at Baltimore and the Northern Baptist Convention, at Oklahoma City, helped to bring about this nation-wide awakening.

We have sought to avoid all semblance of competition with other organizations, and have endeavored to co-operate with existing societies and constituted authorities, thus holding ourselves to that field of effort which we were organized to occupy. Among the many bodies to whom we are indebted for fellowship in this service can be mentioned the Midnight Mission; the Society of Social Hygiene ; the Chicago Law and Order League; the Chicago Woman's Club; the Young Men's Christian Association; the Woman's Christian Temperance Union; the Young People's Christian Temperance Union; the Anti-Cigarette League, and prominent mercantile and political clubs.


To see the vice traffic in its various phases is to recognize that not one, but many methods are requisite to its destruction. Hitting hard where-ever it is possible to hit effectively is our plain duty, and most carefully laid plans must have place in a campaign of such magnitude. A view of the different aspects of the traffic will re- call the invasion of the tenement district by the dregs of all vice, and wicked devices that prepare young girls for the local traffickers, and that incite young men and create a future patronage for vice centers.

There must be recognition of the back rooms of saloons, where congregate those who come to make plans for meetings at hotels or rooming houses in semi-respectable neighborhoods. The business districts are honeycombed with influences that are directly a part of the local and interstate traffic. Even inside the shops and stores traffickers go with the most subtle plans, besides drawing many innocent girls from other towns and cities on the pretext of finding the best places of employment or other alluring promises. Accessory to all, there are many low theatres, dance halls, some ice cream parlors, drug stores, and restaurants which are recruiting stations for this abominable trade.

Even aristocratic portions of the city are not free from some forms of the traffic, though there it is more difficult to discover.

All classes of society in our cities are suffering from the moral and physical taint of vice, The medical profession has a greater problem on the disease side of the question than comes with diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox and tuberculosis combined.

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Outranking in deception and open corruption all other forms of the traffic is the cautiously organized, heavily capitalized exploitation by syndicates that centralize great plague spots, called segregated districts, deceiving ` credulous people who, not knowing that there are many more outside the boundaries than in them, think that all of vice is that fenced in by what they supposed the very high and effective walls of segregation. Instead we should recognize, as it were, the great cancer-sore eating out to every part of the whole social body.

Only the Omnipotent God is equal to the colossal task to be accomplished—the great God Almighty working in his faithful people. Energetic and unceasing Evangelism, additional and better legislation, honest and incessant enforcement of law, agitation, education, leading and crystalizing public sentiment into .action that will clear this hideous trade out of tenement districts, business districts, residence districts, and the polluting plague' spots that : insult Heaven and jeopardize the city and the states all about it, that is, the segregated districts.

We have heard much of a "clean Chicago." Chicago cannot be even physically clean until it is morally clean. Instead of falling prostrate before the vice that comes to us, driven out of Paris and Russia, driven out even from China and Japan, let us withstand it like men and make Chicago truly clean, not a dump for the filth of the world, but CLEAN CHICAGO.

REV. M P. BOYNTON, Chairman.


  1. In order to make the record complete it should be stated that the National Vigilance Committee for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic sent a representative to this meeting to encourage the organization of the Illinois Association.

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