James Robert Mann

Mann, James Robert, 18561922, American legislator, b. McLean co., Ill. A Chicago lawyer, he held many local offices before serving (18971922) as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was (1910) one of the sponsors of the Mann-Elkins Act, which strengthened railroad-rate regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and he was author (1910), of the Mann Act, which forbade, under heavy penalties, the transportation of women from one state to another for immoral purposes. In the House, Mann introduced the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 and led the fight for an amendment to the Constitution granting suffrage to women.

THE MANN ACT OF 1910

". . .In 1917 the provisions of the law {The Mann Act of 1910] were further extended by the decision in the Caminetti v. United States to include even non-commercial sex. . . The result of such decisions was to change a law that had been designed to prevent white slavery to one designed to enforce morals, even declaring private amorous pleasure trips that crossed state lines to be illegal.

. . . The tendency of the U.S. Supreme Court for a time to include all sexual activity under the categories prohibited by the Mann Act undoubtedly reflected what was taking place in the United States. What had been intended to be an abolition movement had become a prohibition movement, far from the original intent of Mrs. {Josephine} Butler and her co-workers. The United States advanced further toward prohibition than any other country. The attack on illicit sex coincided with the movement to ban alcoholic beverages and just as the temperance drive became a prohibition movement so did the move against reglementation become prohibitionist.

. . .Even fornication was made a crime in many states. In 1920, for example, some twenty states regarded habitual fornication a punishable act, and in sixteen states a single act was enough to bring conviction. Such widespread legal measures against all aspects of sexual activity, however, made enforcement impossible. Most juries proved unwilling to convict for illegal fornication; moreover, the Supreme Court soon recognized that prostitutes had the same rights as other citizens and could be charged with or convicted of only a specific offense. Thus, simply police suspicion that a woman was a prostitute was not enough to have her arrested. Similarly, attempts of municipalities to enact ordinances that prohibited men from talking to suspected prostitutes on streets or sidewalks, or that states they could not walk along the sidewalk with prostitutes. have been ruled unconstitutional. As far as individual prostitutes were concerned, this meant that conviction could only come through the activities of vice officers who had to encourage a woman to solicit them to engage in sexual intercourse.

. . .the vice officer increasingly had to resort to dubious tactics to get a prostitute to commit herself; in the process he often crossed the thin line to entrapment.. . . Another difficulty with this kind of enforcement was that it was open to wide-scale bribery. An officer could appear to be unaware of prostitution taking place on his beat unless there was considerable public pressure for him to respond, and not infrequently this looking the other way by the police officer was something that could be and has been bought. "

"Prostitution: An Illustrated Social History " by Vern and Bonnie Bullough/ Crown Books 1978

Chuck Berry was one of the more high profile celebrities to be charged and convicted under the Mann Act.

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