Undue Observation

Daggett 1

Ad for the Daggett Posturing Table, with information on how to obtain a brochure.

In October of 1893, Anthony Comstock caused the arrest of Byron Daggett, manager of the Daggett Table Company in Buffalo, N.Y., for sending improper literature through the mail, i.e., a brochure advertising an operating table, showing patients in various poses which, to Comstock, rendered the brochure immodest and thus unmailable.

In November, after a critical editorial in the Medical Herald, Comstock wrote to the editor:

“It is not essential to me nor to the cause of moral purity that you be informed of the facts, for a man who treats public morals as lightly as you do is hardly worthy of the notice of a man occupying my position. The moral purity of more than twenty-two millions of boys and girls in this country is a matter that far transcends in importance the publication of medical journals and medical books, and the right to defend the moral purity of the children of this nation imposes a duty so sacred that no amount of ridicule, sarcasm nor abuse from a moral cancer planter or moral assassin has any effect.

“In the Buffalo case which you refer to there is nothing in the facts that would warrant the abuse of your editorial. A man manufacturing tables for personal gain advertises in a pamphlet, and then he does that which no physician requires to have done, or no reputable physician would permit—he needlessly exposes the nude body of young girls, and then sends those out to others than physicians [i.e., Anthony Comstock who requested a brochure using a false name] through the mails.

“I have never yet found a reputable physician who would presume to denude womanhood unnecessarily; even in their operations the greatest care is to preserve the sexual organs of women from undue observation from curious ones.

“I do not know what the character of your ‘Medical Herald’ is, but if I am to judge from your editorial, I think it will bear watching.”

In early December, the case was thrown out of court and the Daggett Table Company was able to return to business.

Daggett Posturing


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