The Margaret Sanger Papers


Schroeder, Theodore (1865-1953)

Lawyer, free speech advocate and author. A libertarian lawyer and single-taxer, Schroeder was a vigorous proponent of free speech and other civil liberties. Born and educated in Wisconsin he was deeply influenced by the views of Robert Ingersoll. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1889 where he published Lucifer's Lantern, an anti-Mormon newspaper for he was prosecuted for obscenity. Moving to New York City in 1900, Schroeder became a member of the Manhattan Liberal Club and lectured widely on the importance of individual freedoms. The author of numerous articles and pamphlets, he also became one of the leading attorneys and main agitator of the Free Speech League. Although not an anarchist, he was a supporter of the Modern School movement and was active in the New York-based Ferrer Association and gave lectures on psychology, anthropology and primitive religion at the Ferrer Center. An outspoken opponent of the Comstock Laws, he supported Margaret Sanger's efforts to disseminate birth control information and gave her frequent advice about the legal consequences of publishing The Woman Rebel. When she returned from her exile to face trial, Schroeder advised her to plead guilty and accept a light sentence. He also advised William Sanger on legal strategy after the latter's arrest for distributing a copy of Family Limitation. With the government's suppression of free speech during the World War I, Schroeder began dedicating his energies to psychology, specializing in evolutionary psychology and psychoanalysis. He was the author of Free Press Anthology (1909); The Impurity of Divorce Suppression (1905); "Obscene" Literature and Constitutional Law (1911).
References: Paul Avrich, The Modern School Movement (1980); Paul Boyer, Purity in Print (1968); Margaret Sanger, An Autobiography (1938); Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Civil Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990).