In 1873, Congress passed An Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use, better known as the Comstock Law or Federal Anti-Obscenity Act. The act expanded upon 1842 legislation designed to impede the importation of “obscene” materials, 1865 legislation to curb the thriving wartime “obscenity” business, and 1872 legislation that included “obscene” postcards. Upon the initiative of Anthony Comstock (1844–1915), Congress expanded the legislative purview by broadening the definition of obscenity to include information ...

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