The White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act, is a United States federal law, passed June 25, 1910 (ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825; codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421–2424). It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann, and in its original form prohibited white slavery and the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes". Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, "immorality", and human trafficking; however, its ambiguous language of "immorality" allowed selective prosecutions for many years, and was used to criminalize forms of consensual sexual behavior. It was later amended by Congress in 1978, and again in 1986 to apply only to transport for the purpose of prostitution or illegal sexual acts.
The immediate pressure for the act arose from a moral panic about "white slavery", a term used at the time to refer to enforced prostitution. 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." Such narratives often portrayed innocent girls "victimized by a huge, secret, and powerful conspiracy controlled by foreigners", as they were drugged or imprisoned and forced into prostitution.
According to Connelly such concerns represented a "hysterical" version of genuine and long-standing issues arising from the concentration of young women from rural backgrounds in the expanding cities of the era, many of whom were drawn into prostitution for "mundane" economic reasons. A number of Vice Commission reports had drawn attention to the issue.
Suffrage activists, especially Harriet Burton Laidlaw and Rose Livingston, took up these concerns. They worked in New York City's Chinatown and in other cities to rescue young white and Chinese girls from forced prostitution, and helped pass the Mann Act to make interstate sex trafficking a federal crime.
Legal application 
Although the law was created to stop forced sexual slavery of women, the most common use of the Mann Act was to prosecute men for having sex with under-age females. It was also used to harass others who had drawn the authorities' wrath for "immoral" behavior. For instance, the 1948 prosecution of Frank LaSalle for abducting Florence Sally Horner is believed to have been an inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov in writing his novel Lolita.
All US states have anti-polygamy laws but it has only been in recent years that state authorities have used them to prosecute bigamy. The twin communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, Bountiful, British Columbia, and sites in Mexico are historic locations of several Mormon Fundamentalist sects.Mormon fundamentalist leaders and individuals have been charged under Mann Act when "wives" are transported across the Utah-Arizona state line or the U.S.–Canadian and U.S.–Mexican borders.
|Tony Alamo||2008||Convicted||The former American religious leader was arrested under the Mann Act in September 2008. He was subsequently convicted on 10 counts of interstate transportation of minors for illegal sexual purposes, rape, sexual assault, and contributing to the delinquency of minors.|
|George Barker||1940||Charges dropped||The British poet was arrested crossing a state border with his lover Canadian author Elizabeth Smart in 1940. She described the arrest in her book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, in which she intertwined the callous police interrogation with quotations about love from the Song of Songs.|
|Chuck Berry||1962||Convicted||In January 1962, Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for offences under the Mann Act when he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.|
Acquitted on appeal
|Cann, who was an organized crime figure from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was prosecuted and convicted for transporting a prostitute from Chicago to Minnesota. His conviction was later overturned on appeal. Cann was later prosecuted and convicted of offering a $25,000 bribe to a juror at his Mann Act trial.|
|Farley Drew Caminetti||1913||Convicted||He and Maury I. Diggs took their mistresses from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada. Their wives informed the police, and both men were arrested in Reno. The case, Caminetti v. United States, expanded Mann Act prosecutions from prostitution to non-commercial extramarital sex.|
|Charlie Chaplin||1944||Acquitted||Chaplin met Joan Barry, age 24, in 1941. He signed her to a $75-a-week contract for a film he was putting together, and she became his mistress. By the summer of 1942, Chaplin let her contract expire. To send her home, Chaplin paid her train fare to New York which led to his arrest.|
|Finis Dake||1937||Convicted||In 1937, he was convicted of violating the Mann Act by wilfully transporting 16-year-old Emma Barelli across the Wisconsin state line "for the purpose of debauchery and other immoral practices". The May 27, 1936, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that Dake registered at hotels in Waukegan, Bloomington, and East St. Louis with the girl under the name "Christian Anderson and wife". In order to avoid a jury trial and the possibility of being sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000, Dake pled guilty. Subsequently, he served six months in the House of Corrections in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.|
|Rex Ingram||1949||Convicted||Pleading guilty to the charge of transporting a teenage girl to New York for immoral purposes, he was sentenced to eighteen months in jail. He served just ten months of his sentence, but the incident had a serious impact on his career for the next six years.|
|Jack Johnson||1912||Convicted||In October 1912, Johnson was arrested under the Mann Act. It is generally acknowledged that the arrest was racially motivated, and that the "prostitute" in question was indeed his girlfriend. and later, wife. A presidential pardon was requested in 2009.|
|Charles Manson||1960||Convicted||Manson took two prostitutes from California to New Mexico to work.|
|William I. Thomas||1918||Acquitted||Pioneering sociologist William I. Thomas's academic career at the University of Chicago was irreversibly damaged after he was arrested under the act when caught in the company of one Mrs. Granger, the wife of an army officer with the American forces in France. Thomas was acquitted at trial.|
|Frank Lloyd Wright||1926||Charges dropped||In October 1926, Wright and Olga Lazovich Hinzenburg were accused of violating the Mann Act and he was arrested in Minnetonka, Minnesota.|
|Brian David Mitchell||2010||Convicted||Former street preacher and pedophile; convicted in 2010 of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines connection with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart; currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.|
|Jack Schaap||2012||Convicted||Pastor at mega-church First Baptist Church (Hammond, Indiana) and Chancellor of Hyles–Anderson College, pled guilty to transportation of a minor across state lines to have sex with a 16 year old he was counseling. He is awaiting sentencing.|
Notable individuals investigated under the Act 
- Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Islamist cleric, was investigated for violations of Mann Act, authorities primarily wanting to arrest him for his ties to the 9/11 hijackers, but left the United States for Yemen before he could be detained.
- Dusan Popov, a World War II Allied spy with a "James Bond" lifestyle, was threatened with arrest under the Mann Act.
- Individuals associated with an Emperors Club VIP prostitution ring that had former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer as a client.
- Individuals associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) church, such as Warren Jeffs and Merril Jessop have refused to answer questions during depositions and court hearings, citing the 5th amendment, over concerns of self-incrimination related to "potential state investigation still ongoing, as well as criminal investigations under the Mann Act out of the U.S. Attorney's Office."
Mann Act case decisions by the United States Supreme Court 
- Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S. 308 (1913). The Court held that Congress could not regulate prostitution per se, as that was strictly the province of the states. Congress could, however, regulate interstate travel for purposes of prostitution or "immoral purposes".
- Athanasaw v. United States, 227 U.S. 326 (1913). The Court decided that the law was not limited strictly to prostitution, but to "debauchery" as well.
- Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470 (1917). The Court decided that the Mann Act applied not strictly to purposes of prostitution, but to other noncommercial consensual sexual liaisons. Thus consensual extramarital sex falls within the genre of "immoral sex".
- Gebardi v. United States, 287 U.S. 112 (1932). The Court held that the statutory intent was not to punish a woman's acquiescence; therefore, consent by the woman does not expose her to liability.
- Cleveland v. United States, 329 U.S. 14 (1946). The Court decided that a person can be prosecuted under the Mann Act even when married to the woman if the marriage is polygamous. Thus polygamous marriage was determined to be an "immoral purpose".
- Bell v. United States, 349 U.S. 81 (1955). The Supreme Court decided that simultaneous transportation of two women across state lines constituted only one violation of the Mann Act, not two violations.
Congressional amendments to the law 
In 1978, Congress updated the act's definition of "transportation" and added protections against commercial sexual exploitation for minors. It added a 1986 amendment which further protected minors and added protection for adult males. In particular, as part of a larger 1986 bill focused on criminalizing various aspects of child pornography that passed unanimously in both houses of Congress, the Mann act was further amended to replace the ambiguous "debauchery" and "any other immoral purpose" with the more specific "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense" as well as to make it gender-neutral.
- The Mann Act from Ken Burn's PBS series "Unforgiveable Blackness."
- Mark Thomas Connelly, The Response to Prostitution in the Progressive Era, University of North Carolina Press, 1980, pp.114-121
- May Yi Lui, "Saving Young Girls from Chinatown: White Slavery and Woman Suffrage, 1910–1920," Journal of the History of Sexuality, Sep 2009, Vol. 18 Issue 3, pp. 393–417
- Adams, Cecil. "The Straight Dope: Was there really such a thing as 'white slavery'?" Chicago Reader, Jan. 15, 1999. Available online.
- Alexander Dolinin. "What Happened to Sally Horner?: A Real-Life Source of Nabokov's Lolita". zembla. Art & Humanities Library of Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 2008-03-10. Humbert, the narrator, at one point explicitly refers to LaSalle.
- "Religion: Fundamentalists". Time. 3 April 1944. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- mann act prostitution Timeline 1943
- See Apostolic United Brethren, FLDS, Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times and Church of the Lamb of God as examples of sects with communities in Mexico.
- "Polygyny in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (ReligiousTolerance.org).
- Ken Driggs, "Who Shall Raise the Children? Vera Black and the Rights of Polygamous Utah Parents", Utah Historical Quarterly 60:27 (1992).
- CNN report 26 Sept 2008 Retrieved 30 July 2011
- CNN report 24 July 2009 Retrieved 30 July 2011
- Gambrell, John. "FBI: Evangelist Alamo arrested in child sex probe". AP via Yahoo News. Retrieved 2008-09-26.[dead link]
- "Chuck Berry". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
- Weiner, Eric (11 March 2008). "All Things Considered: The Long, Colorful History of the Mann Act". NPR. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- "Caminetti Guilty On Only One Count. Two Jurors Hold Out for Acquittal for Three Hours, but Finally Compromise". New York Times. September 6, 1913. Retrieved 2010-08-20. "Farley Drew Caminetti, son of the Commissioner General of Immigration, was found guilty late to-day on one count of the indictment charging him with violation of the Mann White Slave act."
- "Mann & Woman". Time. 3 April 1944. Retrieved 2007-08-21. "Auburn-haired Joan Berry, 24, who wandered from her native Detroit to New York to Hollywood in pursuit of a theatrical career, became a Chaplin protégée in the summer of 1941. ... Chaplin signed her to a $75-a-week contract, began training her for a part in a projected picture. Two weeks after the contract was signed, she became his mistress. ... By late summer of 1942, Chaplin had decided that she was unsuited for his movie. Her contract ended. ... Chaplin paid her train fare both ways but did not travel with her, did not pay her hotel bills. Asserted by the defence: she went at her own request; Chaplin had no "intent" to transport her for immoral purposes and did not consummate any such purpose in New York."
- Chambers, Pastor Joseph (19 September 1999). An Open Letter to Pastor Joseph Chambers, Author of an Article Entitled "Confused Charismatic Theology & the Dake's Bible". Charlotte, NC: Paw Creek Ministries. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- Eder, Bruce. "Rex Ingram Biography". All Movie Guide. AMC. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- Murray, Chris (5 July 2009). "Congress Looks to Pardon Boxing Great". Reno Gazette-Journal. Retrieved 23 July 2009.[dead link]
- Bugliosi, Vincent with Gentry, Curt. Helter Skelter — The True Story of the Manson Murders 25th Anniversary Edition, W.W. Norton & Company, 1994. ISBN 0-393-08700-X. Pages 137–146
- "Thomas and Woman Freed. Evidence Sought for Prosecution under the Mann Act". New York Times. April 20, 1918. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Jack Schaap Confesses To Sexual Relationship With Teen After Firing From Megachurch". Huffington Post. 08/02/2012. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Jack Schaap Pleads Guilty in Teen Sex Case, Denies Knowing Act Was Crime". Christian Post. 08/27/2012. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Oh, Mann! Pastor says he was unaware of curious law". Chicago Tribune. 08/27/2012. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Ex-Indiana megachurch pastor seeks minimum sentence in underage-sex case". News Sentinel. January 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Rhee, Joseph; Mark Schone (November 30, 2009). "How Anwar Awlaki Got Away". The Blotter from Brian Ross; Fort Hood Investigation (ABC News). Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- Gentry, Curt (2001). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 272. ISBN 0-393-32128-2.
- Hakim, Danny; Rashbaum, William K. (10 March 2008). "Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22. "Federal prosecutors rarely charge clients in prostitution cases, which are generally seen as state crimes. But the Mann Act, passed by Congress in 1910 to address prostitution, human trafficking and what was viewed at the time as immorality in general, makes it a crime to transport someone between states for the purpose of prostitution. The four defendants charged in the case unsealed last week were all charged with that crime, along with several others."
- Anthony, Paul (28 January 2009). "FLDS leader invokes 5th in deposition: He pleads it more than 250 times, court transcript says.". San Angelo, Texas: San Angelo Standard-Times. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
- "Reagan Signs Tough Bill In Crackdown on Child Porn," The San Francisco Chronicle (8 November 1986), from United Press International. "President Reagan signed a bill yesterday strengthening provisions of existing child pornography laws. The new measure, passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, would make it a crime to advertise to buy or sell child pornography, to seek children for the production of pornography or to participate with children in the production of it. [...] On another subject, the bill rewrites the Mann Act, a relic of the early part of the century, which makes it a crime to transport a woman across state lines for 'immoral' purposes. The new provision makes the statute gender-neutral and eliminates archaic language."
Further reading 
- Langum, David J. (1994). Crossing over the line. Legislating Morality and the Mann Act. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-46880-1.