Mann Act (United States) (1910)


Usually characterized as a kind of purity legislation against the interstate transportation of women for prostitution or “other immoral purposes,” the Mann Act was equally aimed at the increasing number of immigrants, averaging almost 900,000 per year in the first decade of the 20th century. The measure prohibiting commerce in “alien women and girls for the purpose of prostitution and debauchery” affected a small number of potential immigrants, but it did further extend the emphasis, begun by President Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the decade on encouraging immigration only of those with good moral character. Proposed by the Republican congressman James R. Mann of Illinois, the bill was reported out of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in December 1909, along with the report, “White Slave Traffic.” It was quickly passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President William H. Taft as the White Slave Traffic Act of June 25, 1910.

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