With all the attention currently being focused on national immigration policies and the terrible problems that result from such illegal activities, some citizens might conclude that the tragedy of sex slavery is a relatively recent development.
The issue has been before us for well over a century, and it is interesting, as well as a source for pride, that one of the early proponents of programs to protect victims, particularly women, was a Spring Hill native with a strong Kansas University background. James H. Patten, who also was the first editor of the University Weekly newspaper here, was the man who brought national attention and prompted early legislation regarding the subject.
With understandable appreciation, the Lawrence Daily World in 1909 did a story on Patten and his efforts to alter the horrible business of human trafficking in America. Noted the Daily World about Patten:
“He is prominently connected with the agitation over the white slave traffic now engrossing the attention of Congress, and the whole country is interested in his work. He is the secretary of the Immigration Restriction League of Boston, which has made an exhausting study of the immigration question and which has brought a vast amount of information regarding the iniquitous traffic in alien women. ... He is noted for his work against white slavery and has been largely instrumental in making changes to protect the victims of this activity.”
Patten’s father was H.H. Patten, who is credited with being the founder of Greensburg, Kan., and later was mayor of Kingman.
James Patten was graduated from Olathe High School in 1893 and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Kansas University in 1896. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi social fraternity and was a scholastic achiever with membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He was active in journalism at KU and was the editor of the first student newspaper. Patten then earned a law degree at KU and taught on the campus before going east in 1905. It was there that he became a strong advocate of efforts to eliminate white slavery, which remains an even bigger problem today. Noted the Daily World:
“Since then (1905), he (Patten) has been deeply involved in his most important work, for which he is internationally recognized. He and his family live in Washington when Congress is in session and he is active with efforts to get proper legislation to deal with the problem of white slavery.”
The fact that people such as James Patten have been fighting to alter the depressing condition of human trafficking for well over a century shows just how vital it is to continue this battle.