The Malthusian League (1877–1927)
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The Malthusian League, founded in London, England, in 1877 promoted the use of contraception to limit family size. Activists Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant established the Malthusian League after they were arrested and exonerated for publishing a pamphlet describing techniques to prevent pregnancy. Founders based the league on the principles of Thomas Malthus, a British nineteenth century economist, who wrote on the perils of a population growing beyond the resources available to support it. The Malthusian League advocated for limiting family size voluntarily through contraception to avoid the overpopulation and poverty cautioned in Malthus’ work. After fifty years, the Malthusian League closed due to the increasing disapproval for Malthus’s economic theories of population and poverty. However, the Malthusian League’s activism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to more tolerant views of contraception and family planning in Great Britain in the twentieth century.