What is the White Slave Act?

The White Slave Act, more properly the White Slave Traffic Act, was passed by Congress in 1910 under the interstate commerce clause of the Federal Constitution. It forbids anyone, under heavy penalty, to cause aid or induce the transportation of any woman or girl from one state to another for immoral purposes. White slavery as a general term for traffic in women for immoral purposes was suggested in contrast to blade slavery. The term implied that certain women were victims of a form of slavery. William, Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903), the Irish historian, had applied the term to wage earners in Europe. In his History of England in the Eighteenth Century, he wrote: “It [slavery in America] was hardly more horrible, however, than the white slavery which for years after the establishment of the factory system prevailed both in England and on the Continent.” “White slave is now defined as a woman held unwillingly for purposes, of commercial prostitution. The White Slave Traffic Act of 1910 is also referred to as the Mann Act after its sponsor, Representative James R. Mann, of Illinois.

One thought on “What is the White Slave Act?”

  1. The newspapers tell the story plainly: White Slavery is still a serious problem. Women and girls being forced into sexual acts which they are not (or unable to) consent to. We hear about such stories almost every year from different parts of the country. Who knows how big this problem is? I say “keep the Mann Act in place” to keep women and children safe.

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