The Comstock Act 1873

Among the many items banned from the mails by the 1873 Comstock law were books on anatomy, works by D. H. Lawrence, information about contraception, and photographs of boxing matches. Anthony Comstock, a fire-and-brimstone Congregationalist and self-appointed savior of American virtue, boasted that in his lifetime he seized 150 tons of books, made 4,000 arrests, and drove 15 people to suicide.

Anthony Comstock successfully lobbied Congress for stricter obscenity laws, and secured an appointment as a special agent to the United States Postal Service with broad powers to police the mails. The law did not define obscenity—Comstock did. He often barred jurors from seeing the item in question, saying that it was too vile to show them.