What is the White Slave Act?

April 27, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Commentary

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 black slavery. The term implied that certain women were victims of a form of slavery as pitiable as that formerly imposed upon the Negro race.

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 [Negro 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.


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