This post contains a sampling of documented quotes by Margaret Sanger on the topics of race and eugenics. I say “documented” because (unlike most other Web pages citing Sanger) in each case I provide a direct link to scanned pages from the original editions of books she wrote featuring these quotes, which have been put online by a politically neutral academic library whose impartiality is unimpeachable; furthermore, I provide photographs of each quote in situ from her various books, along with accurate transcriptions.

The reason for these extreme steps is that one must be very careful when researching online the intersection of Margaret Sanger, eugenics and race, because her modern defenders (that is, Planned Parenthood and other “pro-choice” advocates) do everything they can to suppress and deny Sanger’s racism, while on the other hand her detractors (“pro-life” advocates) often cite abbreviated quotes from her in order to make it look like she was only racist against blacks — when in fact she was also racist against immigrant groups, other minorities, and “defectives” of any skin color, all of whom threatened what Sanger saw as the “purity” of the educated white middle and upper classes.

The following quotes are all taken from two of Margaret Sanger’s books: The Pivot of Civilization, published in 1922; and Woman and the New Race, published in 1920. There are countless other Sanger quotes about race and eugenics, not just in these two books but in many of her other books as well, not to mention various letters and essays of hers which have been preserved. The quotes you see here, therefore, are not a thorough examination of her views on these topics, but rather just a few verified examples which researchers, pundits and advocates on either side can use, cite, republish, download or link to freely.

The Pivot of Civilization, by Margaret Sanger (1922)
Available online here in its original format at Open Library
or as searchable text at Project Gutenberg.

That Margaret Sanger was an enthusiastic eugenicist, and that her beliefs were essentially racist (and classist), is beyond dispute. Take for example this random quote from pages 175-6 of The Pivot of Civilization:

“[Eugenics] sees that the most responsible and most intelligent members of society are the less fertile; that the feeble-minded are the more fertile. Herein lies the unbalance, the great biological menace to the future of civilization. Are we heading to biological destruction, toward the gradual but certain attack upon the stocks of intelligence and racial health by the sinister forces of irresponsibility and imbecility? This is not such a remote danger as the optimistic Eugenist might suppose. The mating of a moron with a person of sound stock may, as Dr. Tredgold points out, gradually disseminate this trait far and wide until it undermines the vigor and efficiency of an entire nation and an entire race. This is no idle fancy.”

Sanger summarizes her guiding “Principles” on page 279, in which she declares that low-class children are “unwanted types” who “should never have been born”:

“Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be borne by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of those who should never have been born.”

Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to counteract the influence of the typical “maternity center” of the day, whose pro-life advice to lower-class pregnant women

“…encourages the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant.”

The phrase “human waste” in the quote above was no fluke; in fact, Sanger made a habit of describing the lower classes (i.e. children of immigrants and minorities) as “human waste“:

Sanger’s reflexively low opinion of blacks can be seen on pages 131-2 of The Pivot of Civilization, where she first writes

“Evidence of racial and biological degeneracy are apparent to this observer”

and then goes on to approvingly quote another eugenicist who claims that factory work has degraded the intellect of the British lower classes to the level of (gasp!) “the African negro”:

“‘Compared with the African negro,’ he writes, “the British sub-man is in several respects markedly inferior.”

There’s no question that in this context “negro” is cited as the benchmark for racial inferiority, a degenerate state to which the white British man is unfortunately descending.

On pages 84-7 of Pivot, Sanger once again reveals her true opinions by using the example of a black family to illustrate how “feeble-minded” women contaminate society with their criminal offspring:

“Here is a typical case showing the astonishing ability to ‘increase and multiply,’ organically bound up with delinquency and defect of various types: ‘The parents of a feeble-minded girl, twenty years of age, who was committed to the Kansas State Industrial Farm on a vagrancy charge, lived in a thickly populated Negro district which was reported by the police to be the headquarters for the criminal element of the surrounding State….The mother married at fourteen, and her first child was born at fifteen. In rapid succession she gave birth to sixteen live-born children and had one miscarriage. …’”

The quote then goes on for several paragraphs to list how nearly all of the black woman’s children had become scourges on society:

“‘…The eighth, a boy who early in life began to exhibit criminal tendencies, was in prison for highway robbery and burglary. The ninth, a girl…had also been arrested several times for soliciting. The tenth, a boy, was involved in several deliquencies. … The twelfth, a boy, was at fifteen years of age implicated in a murder…’”

and so on for all sixteen black children. Sanger concludes,

“The notorious fecundity of feeble-minded women is emphasized in studies and investigations of the problem….Feeble-minded women constitute a permanent menace to the race….”

[Click on image to view full-size]

Woman and the New Race, by Margaret Sanger (1920)
Available online here in its original format at Open Library

In her 1920 tract Woman and the New Race, Sanger sometimes expressed the kind of deep racism typical of the era which was so thoroughly intertwined with her worldview that it usually didn’t even need to be mentioned because it was the starting point of the discussion.

For example, when talking about how large family sizes lead to illiteracy on page 38, Sanger casually describes white people as being of “pure stock” whereas the high rate of Negro illiteracy merits an “of course” which needs no further explanation:

“Moreover, there were in the United States in 1910, 5,516,163 illiterates. Of these 1,378,884 were of pure native white stock. In some states in the South as much as 29 per cent of the population is illiterate, many of these, of course, being Negroes.”

On page 31 of the same book, Sanger reveals a view of racial hierarchies which in modern terms would be deemed incredibly racist: At the bottom are “Negroes, Indians, Chinese,” all of whom count as “colored”; next comes not only anyone born outside the United States (mostly immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, as the text later reveals) but also their American-born children, all of whom still nonetheless count as “of foreign stock”; and at the top, needless to say, are Caucasians who have lived in the United States for multiple generations, who are “native white”:

Among our more than 100,000,000 population are Negroes, Indians, Chinese and other colored people to the number of 11,000,000. There are also 14,500,000 persons of foreign birth. Besides these there are 14,000,000 children of foreign-born parents and 6,500,000 persons whose fathers or mothers were born on foreign soil, making a total of 46,000,000 people of foreign stock. Fifty per cent of our population is of the native white strain.

The goal of birth control in Sanger’s view was to decrease the number of babies being born to “lower” types, while increasing the number of offspring produced by “the native white strain.” To this end, Sanger arranged to have one of her birth-control how-to manuals translated into Yiddish so that new Jewish immigrants could learn how to avoid pregnancy (and — the whole point — thereby limit Jewish population growth in the United States).

More quotes from Margaret Sanger expressing similar sentiments can be found throughout the two books cited above, as well as in one more of her books which is also available online:

The Case for Birth Control, available in its entirety here at Open Library

All images, quotes and text on this page are free to download and republish, with no restrictions.

17 Responses to “Margaret Sanger quotes about race and eugenics”

  1. 1Kevin on Mar 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm:

    Well, she’s entirely accurate about breeding. We breed the best qualities into our vegetables and animals using the same method she is supporting. If we can use selective breeding to make a better cow or warp cabbage into broccoli and cauliflower, why does anyone believe we can’t do it with people?

    That said, I’m not pro-eugenics or pro-abortion. Eugenics seems vaguely immoral, and abortion moreso. But I don’t fault her factual accuracy.


  2. 2Surellin on Mar 11, 2014 at 11:37 am:

    Hmm, her theory would seem to imply that her ancestors, sterling people all, were far her intellectual superiors.


  3. 3Doctor Jeff on Mar 13, 2014 at 11:24 am:

    Margaret Sanger was a historic figure from many years ago. Her motivation for birth control advocacy was borne out of racist and eugenic theories that were much more popular in her day. Interesting that many debates about birth control still go on to this day, but are people really that interested in Margaret Sanger. I would bet that most Americans would not even know who she was. Come on Zombie, aren’t there some crazy BDS advocates out in Berkeley doing some ridiculous things to report on? Have all of those Code Pinkers or Breast not Bombs crazies gone into hibernation?


  4. 4Pablo on Mar 15, 2014 at 2:08 am:

    Yeah, Zombie! Doctor Jeff wants to see the circus and not think about the pathetic state of so many blacks in America, including the untold millions of them snuffed out in their mother’s wombs. BRING THE FUNNY!!!

    BTW, PZ Myers thinks you’re crazy. Badge of honor, that.


  5. 5Scott on Mar 16, 2014 at 9:08 am:

    Hey Zombie: I think this information regarding Margaret Sanger provides insight into the thinking of Barack Obama’s Science Czar, John Holdren. As you pointed out on your blog, Holdren is in favor of eugenics, but less about racism and (probably) more about political selection. For example, his desire to limit those who reproduce too much through forced sterilization would likely be today’s religious conservatives. The Democrats need plenty of the permanent “underclass” to keep them in office, so multiplication among government dependents is temporarily desirable.

    And what mushy minded liberal would stand in the way of their own muddled view of the government? These are the people who, knowing that Barack Obama is an inferior president who demonstrated his incompetence from 2009-2012, went out and voted for him anyway! Now that Obamacare is a total disaster, even the brainwashed media is beginning to cease sheltering our messianic president. But this is how liberals think…government = good, individuals = bad. The cost to liberty be damned. If a few people are sterilized or some abortions are forced, it’s NO DOUBT for the greater good, as Hillary might say.

    Sanger’s legacy, Holdren, and the rest of the feeble minded people running our country now are simply a danger to us all. Harry Reid’s fantasies about the Koch brothers springing out of closets and biting the heads off of babies are my case and point. What politician who says “you must pass the bill in order to see what’s in it” survives election after election after election? Nancy Pelosi, that’s who!

    I propose eugenics for our government “leaders”. Eric Holder and John Holdren would be the first ones to go. Sadly, we will have to endure this mess for some years while they destroy government and our Constitution from within. I do wonder if we will have a change of power in 2017. It makes me shudder.


  6. 6don on Mar 16, 2014 at 10:03 am:

    Scott, Right on man.You hit the nail on the head.


  7. 7yonason on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:03 am:

    Eugenics is allegedly based on Darwinism.
    Eugenics requires elimination of the more fertile “feeble minded”
    Darwinism asserts that the more fertile are the more fit
    Doing the math . . . either eugenics and/or Darwinism are wrong.


  8. 8Stark Dickflüssig on Apr 21, 2014 at 8:37 pm:

    Sanger arranged to have one of her birth-control how-to manuals translated into Yiddish so that new Jewish immigrants could learn how to avoid pregnancy (and — the whole point — thereby limit Jewish population growth in the United States).

    Proving that Sanger was an idiot, as the Ashkenazi Jews typically have higher IQs than whites or Chinese.

    And to Doctor Jeff: lots of people belong to Sanger’s organization & espouse her ideals, while performing just the sort of bloody harvest she wanted, primarily targeted at the “inner city” people she would have wanted them to target. Yeah, her adherents are embarrassed when you point out who & what they follow (& they’re happy to lie about their adherence) but they follow it nonetheless.


  9. 9Realist on May 28, 2014 at 12:42 am:

    For the love of fuck, will SOMEBODY on this blog please read some population genetics? I mean the real kind, the sciencey kind, not the quasi-conservative pseudo-right blither rooted in Boas and Montagu that assumes all humans are blank slates who can be raised to the light of intellect by investing enough tax dollars in them.

    I recommend starting with the blogs of JayMan and HBDChick.

    Lower IQ people need to be bred out of the genome, it’s that simple. More blacks than whites or Asians are lower IQ. I don’t give a crap if they are mass aborting their future Trayvons. So long as they were left behind in sub-Saharan Africa, all was well. Then the Muzzies started trading them to the rest of the world, including the American South. Now we are plagued not only with their low-IQ, low-future-time-orientation, high-impulse descendants, we’re plagued with a bunch of liberals and conservatives alike who worship at the altar of blackness and hate white people, Jews, and Asians.

    Margaret Sanger was simply the harbinger of the Dark Enlightenment and the first race realist with balls. Why should liberals not also be pro-high-g?


  10. 10Me on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:52 am:

    Realist, Your a fascist peice of crap it’s people like you that started the holocaust go back to StormFront or Gold Dawns website or WND where ever you came from we all must prevent extremist elements like you from taking over our society we cannot afford a Third world war or anouther holocaust or other Crimes against humanity it’s people like you who are the real enemies.


  11. 11alh on Jul 29, 2014 at 1:37 pm:

    Planned Parenthood continues to give a “Margaret Sanger” award to outstanding members of it’s organization. That leaves little doubt that she is revered and her ideas still valued. Planned Parenthood does target black communities by setting up clinics disproportionately in areas where they live.


  12. 12el polacko on Sep 14, 2014 at 8:28 am:

    so margaret sanger wrote the script for the movie, ‘idiocracy’ ?


  13. 13Tilikum Killer Assault Whale on Sep 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm:

    Excellent post Zombie. I do kind of wonder if those rabid pro abortionists would change their minds if they read her books. Then again anything that does not support their beliefs is erased from their memories as if they never saw it in the first place.


  14. 14Alexandra on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:26 am:

    I notice that none of the quotes have Sanger supporting abortion, because she didn’t. Isn’t it odd that anti-choice groups use her edited quotes even knowing that Margaret Sanger was, in fact, anti-abortion?


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