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Family form and functions changed in response to a complex set of circumstances that were the effects of economic class and ethnicity.
According to historian Mark Thomas Connelly, "a group of books and pamphlets appeared announcing a startling claim: a pervasive and depraved conspiracy was at large in the land, brutally trapping and seducing American girls into lives of enforced prostitution, or 'white slavery.' These white slave narratives, or white-slave tracts, began to circulate around 1909." "Ice cream parlors of the city and fruit stores combined, largely run by foreigners, are the places where scores of girls have taken their first step downward.
This is perhaps especially true of those ice cream saloons and fruit stores kept by foreigners.
Scores of cases are on record where young girls have taken their first step towards "white slavery" in places of this character.
This is one of several acts of protective legislation aimed at moral reform during the progressive era.
Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking, particularly where trafficking was for the purposes of prostitution.
United States (1917), which held that "illicit fornication", even when consensual, constituted an "immoral purpose." In addition to its stated purpose of preventing human trafficking, the law was used to prosecute unlawful pre-marital, extra-marital, and inter-racial relationships.
Cann, who was an organized crime figure from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was prosecuted and convicted for transporting a prostitute from Chicago to Minnesota. Cann was later prosecuted and convicted of offering a ,000 bribe to a juror at his Mann Act trial. Diggs took their mistresses from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada.Although her claim was unsupported by evidence, her story exemplified the stereotypes used to pass the Mann Act—fear of foreigners, especially Chinese men; abduction and drugging in order to be raped and enslaved; a narrow escape; and salvation through Christian conversion.Other groups like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and Hull House focused on children of prostitutes and poverty in community life while trying to pass protective legislation.The purpose of the act was to make it a crime to "transport or cause to be transported, or aid to assist in obtaining transportation for" or to "persuade, induce, entice or coerce" a woman to travel.Many of the changes that occurred after 1900 were a result of tensions between social ideals and practical realities.