History of Sex, Love and Sexuality 1750 - 1830

About the history of sex, love, and sexuality from 1750 to 1830, highlights include orgies, Ben Franklin being obscene, the Marquis de Sade arreste, girls dancing the Cancan, and a move towards repression.

1752-1753-Francis Duffield and Sir Francis Dashwood started a club at Medmenham in England. In their twice yearly orgies, members engaged in Satanic games wearing white costumes.

1755-Shortly after Dr. Samuel Johnson had published his Dictionary of the English Language, a splendid British lady approached him and congratulated him on omitting all improper and coarse words from his dictionary. "Ah," replied Dr. Johnson, "so you have been looking for them, Madam?"

1757-In England, the Society for the Reformation of Manners was endorsed by King George II, who had already issued a proclamation against vice. In the 5 years the Society existed, it succeeded in getting 10,000 prosecutions, many against sexual offenders.

1776-Benjamin Franklin was unanimously selected Postmaster General of the U.S. by the Continental Congress, with the power to ban obscene matter-despite the fact that he had authored a "Letter to Young Men on the Proper Choosing of a Mistress" and the "Speech of Polly Baker" (which Jefferson loved). Both of these would later be banned by U.S. post offices as obscene.

1777-The marquis de Sade, famous libertine from whose name came the word "sadism," was arrested in Paris, at the request of his mother, for his cruel orgiastic sexual practices. Earlier he had been accused of trying to poison women with cantharides (such as Spanish fly), and of engaging in sadism and sodomy at orgies which he staged.

1780-A list called Covent Garden Ladies (actually London prostitutes) was published.

1783-Louis XIV secretly married Madame de Maintenon who had been his mistress. She was 3 years older than he, placid, and no longer a great beauty, but she was comfortable. The King gave up having affairs and became almost domestic.

1786-S.G. Vogel, a German, advocated infibulation-use of a cagelike device-to prevent masturbation.

1789-In England the Proclamation Society was founded to implement the Royal Proclamation against Vice.

1792-Mary Wollstonecraft published Rights of Women, a treatise against the submission of females. Horace Walpole called her a "hyena in skirts."

1821-The 1st obscenity trial in the U.S. involving a book took place. Peter Holmes, publisher of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Cleland's Fanny Hill, of course), was found guilty.

1824--England's Vagrancy Act was the 1st law aimed at obscenity. The law forbade display of an obscene print or book in any street or public place.

1825--New Harmony, Ind., was founded. This community, which soon failed, mixed communism, religious free thought, and equalitarian marriage. Many other experiments like it took place in the U.S.

1826--Pope Leo XIII issued a papal bull denouncing the condom contraceptive, thundering that "it hindered the arrangement of providence."

1830s--The cancan became popular in Paris in spite of the fact that it was considered provocatively indecent. The dance, which revealed the female leg as the performers kicked, grew more and more frantic as the tempo of the music increased.

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