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TPL · History of Quaker War Tax Resistance: The Pennsylvania Experiment

At the upcoming national gathering of NWTRCC at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, I’m going to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about the second, and possibly most important, period of Quaker war tax resistance — between the establishment of the Quaker colony in Pennsylvania and the relinquishment of political control there by Quakers during the French and Indian War.

The Pennsylvania experiment ()

The advance of war tax resistance among English Quakers had ground to a halt. Quakers in England still would not pay certain explicit war taxes like “trophy money,” nor pay for substitutes to serve in their places in the military, nor buy goods stolen at sea from enemy nations by government-sanctioned pirates, but attempts failed to extend this testimony to other taxes that were clearly designed to pay for war.

For example, Elizabeth Redford tried to convince Quakers to refuse a new tax in on the grounds that it was obviously meant to fund the Seven Years War (the act that enacted the tax was entitled “For granting to his majesty certain rates and duties upon marriages, births, and burials, and upon bachelors and widowers, for the term of five years, for carrying on the war against France with vigour”). Her meeting brought her up on charges of violating the discipline and declared that whatever the purpose of the tax, it was being raised by the crown for expenses of its choosing and Quakers should not inquire further into what those expenses were but should pay the tax without question.

Several years later, during the War of the Spanish Succession, this got thrown back in Quaker faces. William Ray, in a letter to Quaker Samuel Bownas, argued that Quakers should stop resisting tithes because they had stopped resisting war taxes: “though the title of the act of parliament did plainly show that the tax was for carrying on a war against France with vigour” he wrote, “since the war against France began your Friends have given the same active obedience to the laws for payment of taxes as their fellow subjects have done.” Bownas did not deny this, but instead he tried to argue that tithes were different.

Meanwhile, Quaker William Penn was granted a royal charter for a large North American colony, to which many Quakers emigrated and established a colonial government that would be run, to some extent, on Quaker pacifist principles. I say “to some extent” because it was still a royal colony, under the military protection of the crown, and with an explicit colonial mandate to engage in military battles against enemies of the home country. The Quaker Assembly of the colony was also subservient in many ways to the crown-appointed governors and to the British government itself.

Occasionally during wartime, that government would appeal to the Pennsylvania Assembly to raise some funds to help out the war effort — to help defend Pennsylvania against pirates, Frenchmen, hostile Indians, and the like. The Assembly would sometimes respond to such requests with noble-sounding statements of Quaker principle, like this one by Assembly Speaker David Lloyd in : “the raising money to hire men to fight or kill one another is matter of conscience to us and against our religious principles.”

But most commentators on the period, even those who are sympathetic to the Quaker pacifist position, tend to read these statements cynically. The Assembly used these requests for money as opportunities to try to wrest more control from the governor and from London. These statements of conscience seemed often not to be principles so much as gambits in the negotiation process. The Assembly would usually, in the end, grant the requested money, or some amount anyway, but would thinly veil its nature by eliminating any wording about the money being intended for the military and instead would simply decree that it was intended as a gift to the crown from its grateful subjects, “for the Queen’s [or King’s] use.”

This was such a transparent dodge that it became hard for anyone to take seriously the part of the Quaker peace testimony represented in Lloyd’s quote. On one occasion, according to colonial legislator Benjamin Franklin, the Assembly refused to vote war money, but instead granted funds “for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain” knowing that the governor would interpret “other grain” to include gunpowder.

The Assembly were able to get away with this, in a colony full of ostensibly conscientious Quakers, because the orthodox point of view about war tax resistance in the Society held that only explicit war taxes were to be resisted, while generic taxes that only happened to be for war were to be paid willingly. So long as the government kept the name of the tax neutral and didn’t detail how it would be spent, a Quaker could pay it without having to worry about it.

But some Quakers were unable to remain blind to the Assembly’s sleight-of-hand. In , the Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting sent emissaries to some of its rebellious Monthly Meetings who were beginning to refuse to pay state taxes on these grounds. In , William Rakestraw published a pamphlet in which he agreed that “we ought not to ask Cæsar what he does with his dues or tribute, but pay it freely,” but added: “if he tells me it is for no other use but war and destruction, I’ll beg his pardon and say ‘my Master forbids it.’” He argued that the latest “for the Queen’s use” grant, in spite of its generic name, should fool nobody: it was meant to fund war, and no Quaker should pay a tax for it. Thomas Story, who visited the colony from England, defended the orthodox position, and had traveled Pennsylvania encouraging Quakers to pay their war taxes.

During the French & Indian War, Pennsylvania was invaded from the West. The westernmost European settlers in Pennsylvania were largely non-Quaker, and were impatient for a military defense — they felt that the Quaker pacifists in Philadelphia were using them as a shield. The Pennsylvania Assembly eventually gave in to their demands. It organized a volunteer militia and appropriated money for fortifications. This time it did not use the “for the King’s use” dodge by giving the money to the crown and letting it allocate the funds to war expenses, but instead the Assembly appointed its own commissioners to spend the money, and so became responsible itself for the war spending. (The legislation itself still tried to put a happy face on things, saying the grant was “for supplying our friendly Indians, holding of treaties, relieving the distressed settlers who have been driven form their lands, and other purposes for the King’s service,” but it was that last clause — “other purposes” — that hid where most of the spending would actually happen: largely building and supplying military forts.)

This compromise pleased few. Back in London there were calls to ban Quakers from colonial government entirely for their refusal to support the military defense of the colonies. London Quakers were urging pacifist Quakers to resign from the Pennsylvania Assembly as a way of forestalling complete disenfranchisement.

At the same time, a set of American Quakers felt that this was the last straw and if Quaker legislators were going to abandon their pacifist principles and enact a war spending bill, it would be up to Quaker taxpayers to refuse and resist. Several of them, including Anthony Benezet, sent a letter to the Assembly announcing that “as the raising sums of money, and putting them into the hands of committees who may apply them to purposes inconsistent with the peaceable testimony we profess and have borne to the world, appears to us in its consequences to be destructive of our religious liberties; we apprehend many among us will be under the necessity of suffering rather than consenting thereto by the payment of a tax for such purposes.”

That petition was not viewed sympathetically by the Assembly. They reminded everyone that nobody had had any problem paying those “for the Queen’s use” taxes in the past, and that this new tax was really not very different, even though the fig leaf had been removed. Meanwhile, the anti-Quakers in London got word of the petition which further enflamed them and gave them ammunition in their fight to get Quakers disenfranchised. The London Yearly Meeting was furious about the petition and it sent two emissaries to the colonies with orders to “explain and enforce our known principles and practice respecting the payment of taxes for the support of civil government.”

The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting held a conference in to try to come up with some guidance for Friends on whether or not to pay the new war taxes. They were unable to reach consensus. A group of them, including Benezet & John Woolman, sent a letter to quarterly and monthly meetings that set out the reasons why they were choosing to resist. The Assembly’s attempt to hide its war tax as a “mixed” tax with beneficial spending in the mix did not impress them. They wrote:

[T]hough some part of the money to be raised by the said Act is said to be for such benevolent purposes as supporting our friendship with our Indian neighbors and relieving the distresses of our fellow subjects who have suffered in the present calamities, for whom our hearts are deeply pained; and we affectionately and with bowels of tenderness sympathize with them therein; and we could most cheerfully contribute to those purposes if they were not so mixed that we cannot in the manner proposed show our hearty concurrence therewith without at the same time assenting to, or allowing ourselves in, practices which we apprehend contrary to the testimony which the Lord has given us to bear for his name and Truth’s sake.

This is one answer to the dilemma many Quakers find themselves in today. The U.S. government is in a constant state of war and threatens the whole world with its vast nuclear arsenal and its drone assassins. But it pays for this out of the same budget and with the same taxes as it pays for everything else it buys — including today’s equivalents of “such benevolent purposes as supporting our friendship with our Indian neighbors and relieving the distresses of our fellow subjects who have suffered in the present calamities” — so what is a good Quaker to do? Benezet, Woolman, and the rest took the position that mixing good spending and bad doesn’t erase the stain from the bad, but stains the good.

The capitulation by the Quakers in the Pennsylvania Assembly was not a compromise that satisfied either the militant Pennsylvanians, the anti-Quaker antagonists in London, or the prominent pacifists in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. In , under pressure from all sides, most Quaker legislators resigned from the Assembly, and the experiment in Quaker government in Pennsylvania came to an end.

Meanwhile, what had become of those London Quaker enforcers who had come across the pond to knock some sense into the war tax resisting faction? Something unexpected happened: they met with representatives from both the taxpaying and tax-resisting factions, held a two-day meeting on the subject, and ended up agreeing to disagree. The London representatives, rather than chastizing the resisters, instead recommended that Quakers “endeavor earnestly to have their minds covered with fervent charity towards one another” on the subject without taking a position one way or the other.

That’s not what the London Yearly Meeting had in mind. But the logic of the war tax resisters’ position, and the sincerity with which they presented it, had an infectious tendency. Not long after the emissaries returned home, the London Yearly Meeting had been expected to issue a strong condemnation of the resisters who had signed the letter urging Quakers to consider refusing to pay the war tax. Instead, the topic was dropped from the agenda entirely. Why? Because the more Quakers in England heard about the war tax resistance in Pennsylvania, the more sympathetic they became. The Yearly Meeting authorities decided it was better not to discuss the matter at all rather than risk facing the sort of enthusiasm for war tax resistance that had rocked the Philadelphia meeting.

TPL · History of Quaker War Tax Resistance: The Beginnings

At the upcoming national gathering of NWTRCC at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, I’m going to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about the first period of Quaker war tax resistance — between the founding of the Society of Friends and the establishment of the Quaker colony in Pennsylvania.

The beginnings (~)

George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, was not a war tax resister. We know this because he explicitly advised Quakers to pay a war tax and also because his daughter kept good records of the family finances, which explicitly list “Souldiers pay” among the expenses.

But the fact that Fox had to write a letter encouraging Quakers to pay war taxes indicates that the question was a live one in the Society from the beginning. The Quakers did refuse to pay legally-mandated tithes to the establishment church, so a tradition of conscientious objection to taxation was there to draw on, and some Quakers quickly drew the logical conclusion that as pacifists they should also refuse to pay to the priesthood of Mars.

Fox, though, hoped to end the persecution of the Society of Friends by a suspicious government, and thought that by presenting them as both thoroughly pacifist (and thus no military threat to the government) and as willing taxpayers (and thus of direct assistance to the government), he could best make his case. If Quakers refused to serve in the military and also refused to pay war taxes, he worried, the government might find the Quakers to be more trouble than they’re worth, complaining “How can we defend you against foreign enemies and protect everyone in their estates and keep down thieves and murderers?”

But a number of Quakers must have disregarded Fox’s advice, because as early as you start to see entries in the “books of sufferings” maintained by the Society about the persecution of Quakers for refusing to pay things like “Trophy Money,” the “Charge of the Trained-Bands,” the “Charge of the Militia” and other war taxes of that sort.

In , Quakers became aware of another anabaptist sect, the Hutterites in Hungary, who were also practicing war tax resistance.

In , in Robert Barclay’s influential defense of Quaker principles, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, he states that Quakers “have suffered much in our country, because we neither could ourselves bear arms, nor send others in our place, nor give our money for the buying of drums, standards, and other military attire.”

By this has started to become codified into an official discipline in some places. One Meeting had this query for its members that year:

Do you bear a faithful testimony against bearing arms, and paying trophy money, or being in any manner concerned in the militia, in privateers, letters of marque, armed vessels or in dealing in prize goods as such?

TPL · Groping Toward a History of Quaker War Tax Resistance

At the upcoming national gathering of NWTRCC at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, I’m going to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Preparing for this talk has been daunting. It’s a huge topic, spanning centuries and continents, and there are gaps and biases both in the historical record itself, and in my personal knowledge about it.

I’m also not a Quaker, and so am in the awkward and somewhat suspect position of trying to explain Quaker history to Quakers (I expect many of the attendees will be Quakers, particularly as Earlham College is a Quaker institution) as an outsider. Indeed I’m not Christian or even religious, so when I read a Quaker testifying that the holy spirit or “the light” or something of that nature is compelling him or her to take a certain course of action, I just have to sort of take it “on faith” that they know what they’re talking about.

So I’m going to ask you to indulge me as I think “out loud” on The Picket Line while I’m trying to organize my notes.

Most of the material I’m working with while assembling this history comes from two sources: the huge stash of documents I assembled into the collection American Quaker War Tax Resistance, and the archives of the Friends Journal. Both of these sources are biased towards reports of American Friends and Meetings, leaving out much of what may have been happening elsewhere. They also leave time gaps. The first stops at ; the second covers . I’ve tried to supplement this with material from other sources when I could find it.

There seem to me to be some distinct “periods” of Quaker war tax resistance:

The beginnings (~)
War tax resistance has been part of Quaker practice almost from the very beginning. George Fox paid his war taxes and counseled Quakers to do so, but Robert Barclay’s Apology published in reports that Quakers “have suffered much… because we neither could ourselves bear arms, nor send others in our place, nor give our money for the buying of drums, standards, and other military attire.”

The Pennsylvania experiment ()
Quakers ran the colonial legislature in Pennsylvania, founded by Quaker William Penn. This allowed them to put their pacifist principles to the test, which they did to some extent. But most commentators on the period portray the legislature as refusing to enact requested war funding measures mostly as a negotiating gambit, and that they eventually would cough up the war money in thinly-veiled ways. This led several individual Quakers to pledge to refuse to pay taxes to the Quaker government, which in turn led the London Yearly Meeting to come out against such war tax resistance. Eventually this tension became too great, and Quakers gave up government control in Pennsylvania.

The American revolution & aftermath ()
The conscientious Quaker dissidents in America proved influential and their ideas spread, even, eventually, to London, where the meeting found itself coping with a new, home-grown challenge to war tax paying. American Quakers suffered much during the American Revolution for their refusal to give material support to the rebel army, and some dissident Quakers broke off from their meetings because of this. A purifying and intensifying tendency began to rock the Society of Friends, in the aftermath of the war, which tended to strengthen the testimony against paying war taxes, but ended by splitting the Society.

The U.S. Civil War period ()
American Quakers identify with the abolitionist cause, which eventually becomes a war aim of the Union side in the Civil War. The society largely maintains its peace testimony and refusal to pay war taxes through the war, at least on an official level, but there is a slackening in how it is practiced and enforced, and in the aftermath of the war both are shadows of their former selves.

The great forgetting ()
War tax resisters are few and fairly quiet for decades. When war tax resistance is mentioned, it is as a relic of a former time like “thees” and “thous”. To the extent that it still remains on the record as a part of Quaker discipline, it is ignored as something belonging to another time. By and large, Quakers pay even explicit war taxes without complaint.

The thaw ()
A war tax resistance movement begins to coalesce in the United States, but it’s notable how few of its prominent members are Quakers. Eventually, though, this begins to embolden the remaining American Quaker war tax resisters and to rekindle interest in the Society of Friends.

The renaissance ()
The cold war nuclear arms race and the Vietnam War cause a resurgence of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends around the world, from Japan to Norway. By , pretty much all American Quakers must have confronted the issue of war taxes and made a decision about what to do about it. Some Meetings began resisting taxes as a group. War tax resistance becomes a central part of the Quaker peace testimony, and American Quakers who are not resisting in some fashion are on the defensive about it.

The second forgetting ()
The end of the cold war took some of the urgency out of the war tax issue for some Quakers, and those who still felt a concern about war taxes often looked for magical ways to make the issue go away without having to resort to actual tax resistance — such as “peace tax fund” legislation or increasingly desperate and fruitless legal appeals. Remnants of the renaissance period war tax resistance stands still exist, but have little vitality or momentum. Most mentions of war tax resistance in the Friends Journal are seen in the obituaries column.

In some of these periods, to be a Quaker was necessarily to be a war tax resister, as just about every household was subject to some sort of explicit war tax or militia exemption tax and the discipline of Quaker meetings required Friends to refuse to pay such taxes or to risk being disowned. In other periods, such explicit war taxes had vanished, and the government paid for war through less explicit, less transparent, more general-purpose taxes. In those periods, Quaker war tax resistance was more a subject for individual decision and debate and there was a less clear-cut orthodox opinion on how Friends should behave.

TPL · Jury Acquits Accused Rebeccaites

The Monmouthshire Merlin tells of some possible Rebeccaites or Rebecca-impostors who were accused of having gotten a little carried away with their lawlessness.

Sheriff’s officer William Frame testified that one night he was staying at a home in Bridgend where he was levying goods when it was broken into by armed men. One “was dressed in woman’s apparel [with] a light gown on him, black bonnet, and a cap tied under the chin.” They assaulted him and tied him up, and then ransacked the house and stole food, liquor, and bedding.

Alas for the prosecution, “the jury at length returned a verdict of not guilty, immediately on which the crowded court clapped their hands and shouted and cheered tremendously; a large number of respectable parties near the bench loudly expressing their unqualified disbelief of the correctness of the verdict.” However:

After the jury had acquitted John Richards, John Phillips, and Isaac James, on an indictment for house breaking and larceny, they were arraigned on an indictment, charging them with riot and assault on the sheriff’s officers, arising out of the Rebecca case, at the Bridge End, at Pontyoool, on … and having pleaded not guilty, the prosecutor applied to traverse until next sessions, which was granted, and the defendants, each with two sureties, entered into recognizances to appear accordingly.

TPL · Resisting “The Assessed Taxes” in England

There was sporadic tax resistance practiced against what were called “the assessed taxes” in England in .

I’ve had a hard time tracking down just what the “assessed taxes” were — some sources suggest they were the property and windows taxes (whereby the tax-value of a building was determined by how many windows it had), while others include taxes on shop owners based on how many employees they had, and there may be others I haven’t seen reference to yet. Most contemporary accounts assume everyone knows which taxes are the assessed ones, and the movement didn’t seem to have left enough of a mark for modern commentators to have bothered to explain it for us.

The grievance that prompted the resistance is also somewhat vague. It was intimated that because the value of the assessment was meant to simulate the potential rental value of the property, this meant that smaller buildings on small plots in town were assessed at greater value than grand manors on vast estates in the country, making the tax a regressive one.

I haven’t done a thorough job of researching this campaign, but I have a handful of examples of references to it, from which I’ll reproduce some choice excerpts today. The first comes from the Royal Cornwlll Gazette on , in the form of an editorial reproduced from the Bath Chronicle denouncing “[t]he Associations which have been formed in the Metropolis for the resistance of the Assessed Taxes.” If you believe the editorialist, these Associations must have been preaching bloody mutiny:

These Associations ought to be opposed and scouted by all who wished to bear the title of good and peaceable subjects; and the Government will have much to answer for in the eyes of England, and of the world, if it does not, by force of the strong hand, teach these bands of misguided or mischievous men that they are not with impunity to bid defiance to the laws, and to wage war with the principles of civil rule.

Even that editorial, though, admitted “[i]t is allowed on all hands that the Assessed Taxes are an odious impost, and it is plain that they must be abolished.”

The Spectator weighed in , apparently quoting from the True Sun:

During the early part of last week, a table belonging to Mr. John Doherty of Manchester, late editor of the Voice of the People, was seized for arrears of Assessed Taxes, which Mr. Doherty declined paying, on the ground that he had no vote. The sale was announced to take place on ; at which time some hundreds of people assembled before the public-house, next door to Mr. Doherty’s, to which place the table was taken: however, an hour elapsed, and it was evident there was some difficulty in procuring an auctioneer. Notwithstanding the rain came down in torrents, the people did not manifest the least impatience. About , Mr. Doherty addressed the people from his chamber window. He entreated them to wait a little longer, and expressed his regret that he could not afford them all shelter from the rain. The bailiff then informed Mr. Doherty, the sale would take place at came, but no sale; and ultimately, at , the bailiff gave up the table. The people then gave three cheers for Doherty, procured a band of music, and took the table round the town in triumph.

Also in the same issue:

On , executions were put into the houses of Mr. Savage, of the Mechanic’s Institute Tavern, Circus Street, New Road, and of Mr. Brain, picture-dealer, Crawford Street, Marylebone, for arrears of Assessed Taxes. About nine in the morning, a Sheriff’s-officer, attended by several of his men, with an Exchequer writ, took possession of the goods of Mr. Brain, consisting of pictures and articles of furniture amounting to 11l. A van, which was at hand, conveyed the property to Mr. Crook’s, auctioneer to the Sheriff, Skinner Street. The officer next proceeded to the house of Mr. Savage, and exhibited his authority for distraining on his goods for arrears of Assessed Taxes amounting to 35l. Mr. Savage said, the officer might take what he thought proper. Some of the best goods on the premises were at once laid hold of; but, on the van being brought up, Mr. Savage warmly protested against the illegality of the proceedings, and accordingly called in six brokers to value the goods seized. No sooner had this gained the ears of the inhabitants, than Circus Street was literally crammed with people, anxious to witness the process, and who were loud and vehement in their expressions of disapprobation of the seizure. The Police on duty hastened to the spot, and succeeded in preventing them from resorting to acts of violence on the instant. About eleven o’clock, a large banner, bearing the words “The people of Marylebone,” was placed in the middle of the street, and the crowd continued to increase; but no violence was attempted. At twelve o’clock, the van which had been loaded with the goods drove off; and it was followed along the New Road by several persons. At the corner of Baker Street, upwards of 1,000 people had assembled; but no one endeavoured to arrest the progress of the vehicle. At length a woman, more courageous than those by whom she was surrounded, rushed through tne mob, and, seizing hold of the horse’s reins, exclaimed, “What! are you Englishmen, and yet suffer these things to be done? — see what a woman dares do!” and turning instantly the head of the animal, a loud cry of “On to Savage’s!” was raised. The officers fled, and the van was then taken back to Mr. Savage’s; and the furniture would have been carried back into his premises, had not he peremptorily refused to receive it. It was then deposited in a warehouse opposite his residence. The furniture having been taken away, the owner of the van endeavoured to get out of the street with his vehicle; but the mob soon demolished the latter with hammers and stones. There was great confusion, and the shopkeepers in Circus Street put up their shutters. A small party of Police then arrived; and the owner of the van was glad to escape with his horse safe.

Mr. Savage and a Mr. Potter went to the Station-house in the afternoon, and met the Under-Sheriff and Mr. Mayne, the Police Commissioner; to whom they gave assurance that the goods would be delivered up. The Under-Sheriff said, that he thought they were concealed in Mr. Savage’s premises; but upon search being made this was found not to be the case.

There was a meeting of the Association in the evening, at the Mechanic’s Institute; of which Mr. Birch was Chairman. He made a long speech, exhorting those present to persevere in their resistance to the taxes, but not to commit illegal violence. A deputation from the Westminster Association attended, and was received with loud cheers. The room was much crowded till the meeting broke up.

The issue of The Spectator included this note, which, in part at least, seems to have been quoting from the London Times:

On , the parochial authorities of Marylebone attempted to make a seizure of the goods of a cow-keeper, in Upper Park Street, Dorset Square, for arrears of taxes. A mob of persons, about four hundred in number, soon collected; and the driver of the van intended for the conveyance of the goods deemed it prudent to drive off. The parochial authorities were locked out of the house, and they found it impossible to make the seizure.

Thirteen persons were selected in the Holborn district who had refused to pay Assessed Taxes, and who had made themselves the most prominent as members of associations to resist payment. Of the thirteen, five paid their taxes, costs, and poundage, on being applied to, and three promised at once to pay. Levies were made upon four, and no evidence of any inability to pay was visible in any of the houses. One of these was a Mr. Stephen White, a chemist, and keeper of a twopenny-post-office in Lamb’s Conduit Street. The demand upon him was under 10l. He stated that he had pawned his watch to pay the last taxes, and refused to pay. The house was well furnished; and the Sheriffs proposed to take some books from a book-case full of books in his back-parlour, as the least inconvenient to him. He begged them to leave the books and to take his bed; that his wife was not up, but that he would set her out of bed for the purpose. This, the Sheriffs very properly declined, and the matter ended by their taking a washing-stand. If the Sheriffs had accepted the offer of the husband, no doubt we should have had a pathetic story of a bed remorselessly torn by the ruffians of the law from under a delicate and interesting lady, in an infirm state of health.

The next account in my archives, also from The Spectator, comes from , and so may very well represent a different campaign against a different “assessed taxes” with a different grievance (it comes from an article about a meeting of “the anti-Corn-law Conference”):

In the Bradford Club it was proposed to resolve, that “since Government had stopped the supplies of the people, and refused relief to their distress, it was time to stop the supplies of the Government”; but that resolution was postponed, to see how the House of Commons would deal with the measure. A meeting of ladies, held at the Manchester Bazaar on , recorded their resolution–

We, the undersigned ladies of the Bazaar Committee, resolve that we will form ourselves into a provisional committee to carry out a plan of passive resistance, and for forwarding such other measures as the Conference at present sitting in London may deem best, for the obtaining the total and immediate repeal of the Corn and Provision laws. By passive resistance we understand that we will allow our furniture to be seized for the payment of Assessed Taxes without offering any resistance to the collecting-officers, urging the people not to purchase the articles so seized; and we further mean abstinence from the several taxed luxuries annexed to our names. We adopt the above pledge for three months; and further pledge ourselves during that time to use our utmost exertions to preserve perfect peace among the people.

Mr. Hume addressed the meeting at considerable length. The plan of agitation which he proposed was this—

Let them bring the subject forward in every town and village; let every man come forward and assist in the object; and let them not satisfy themselves with a simple meeting, but let every man get up and record his aye or no with respect to the principle of this taxation.

Mr. Hume urged the Whigs to take the opportunity of coming forward and joining the people; “Let them demand the repeal of these laws — no holding back, no fixed duty, but a total and immediate repeal.” He cautioned the meeting against adopting any resolution to resist taxation, for it might be illegal; but he recommended them to refrain from the use of ardent spirits, which produced a revenue of 5,000,000l.; with that, the articles of beer, tobacco, sugar, and wine, placed a revenue of 20,000,000l. at the command of the people to withhold or greatly to reduce. The electors, indeed, had it all in their own power; but what was to be expected of the electoral body who had turned him out in such a town as Leeds, and had returned a Corn-law man?

[Mr. O’Connell] gave a new turn to Mr. Hume’s objection against resistance to taxation–

My friend, and the friend of every measure favourable to the extension of civil and religious freedom, says that he did not approve of the avowed combination of the Manchester ladies not to pay taxes. He is right, in point of law. A public agreement not to pay taxes is a wrong thing; such an association may be the subject of prosecution. Oh, I wish they would prosecute the Lancashire ladies; I should like to hear one of the landed aristocracy dare to talk of prosecuting the ladies of Manchester! I tell him, the ghosts of the murdered operatives, whom the laws made for his benefit have starved to death, would not terrify his class half so much as the idea of prosecuting Mrs. Brooks and the ladies associated with her.

Fri. & Sat. at SubRosa: A Show, Really Really Free Market & Conflict Awareness for Movements Workshop

 Friday & Saturday at SubRosa!-Friday Oct. 17th, 7pm, A Show!  All Hallows’ Eve is drawing nigh… …so come to SubRosa for a night of haunting tunes –and DON’T FORGET to dress in your most ghastly n…

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TPL · Another Rebecca Arrested, But Which “John Jones” Is It?

One of the problems I come across in trying to make sense of the news coverage of the Rebeccaite movement is that there seems to have been a fairly small number of English surnames and given names that got parceled out to the people of Wales to use in place of their Welsh names. Nearly everybody seems to be named Jones, Lewis, Davies, Morgan, Thomas, or Williams. There are, I think, at least three or four “John Jones”es that have been mentioned so far. It’s very difficult to determine whether two news accounts are talking about the same person or about two people with the same name.

For example, in this news account, is this John Jones the same as Shoni Scyborfawr, who used that English name? But that Scyborfawr had already been jailed some time before (see ), so it seems that this must be a different John Jones. Maybe it was just very stale news, but it comes from the same paper that reported on captive Shoni Scyborfawr’s examination before the magistrates the week before. Very confusing. From the Cambrian:

Arrest and Committal of one of the Principal Rebecca Leaders of Carmarthenshire.

On , Jones, the Llandovery Police-officer, accompanied by four of the Metropolitan Police, arrested one of the principal leaders of the Rebecca gang, named John Jones, a farmer, residing at Danygarn, near Llangadock. He was taken into custody under a warrant granted by David Jones Lewis and Lewis Lewis, Esqs., for sending a letter to Mr. Thomas Williams, auctioneer, threatening to deprive him of his life, unless he gave up the title deeds of a small farm he had purchased of John Jones. Amongst other threats which this letter, signed “Rebecca,” contained, one was, that, unless her demand was peremptorily obeyed, Mr. Williams should he dealt with much worse than she had dealt with the Rev. Mr. Jones, of Llansadwrn, and warning him to prepare a place for his soul, as she would take care of his body. As the evidence, which was very clear against John Jones, will soon be before the public, we need not enter into any particulars, further than to state that he was , at Llandovery, fully committed to take his trial at the next gaol delivery. He was afterwards sent in custody of the police, and accompanied by an escort of Dragoons, to Carmarthen gaol. Jones is the seventh person connected with Rebeccaism that has been committed by the Magistrates at Llandovery within the last fortnight, and the activity displayed in the capture of these misguided men, has caused a complete revulsion of public feeling. Becca’s vengeance is no longer dreaded, and the farmers are often heard to express the old adage, that “evil doings have wretched endings.”

Wednesday & Thursday, October 15th & 16th

-Every Wednesday, 11am-1:30pm, HUFF meeting (and space open until 3pm for open hours the whole time as well)

HUFF is Santa Cruz's oldest and most stubbornly persistent grass roots homeless advocacy group.

...and later that evening, Oct. 15th, 7-10pm, The Color of Fear: film screening and discussion

A showing of the documentary The Color of Fear by Lee Mun Wah. The Color of Fear is a 90 minute film exploring racism and perceptions of racism from the perspective of 8 individuals from different ethnic/cultural/folk racial backgrounds. Following the film we'll have our own discussion and debriefing.

Thursday (every), noon-6pm, Studio Hours

Work on your creative projects in a quiet environment with other people who are doing the same.  Creative work is an essential part of life, and having a set place and time to engage in these activities in the company of like-minded people can foster accountability in developing consistent creative practices.  The studio staffer will keep some basic tools and materials on hand for shared use. Use of tools and materials is free, but we do recommend a $1-$5 per hour donation for use of the space, to help cover rent and keep SubRosa open in the long term. No one turned away for lack of funds.  Space also open for other uses as well, but Studio Hours are prioritized.

...and later that evening, 3rd Thursday at 7:30pm, Women, Trans, and Queer Open Mic

Every 3rd Thursday of the month we reserve the stage for Women, Trans, and Queer folk though everyone is invited and encouraged to come enjoy the show. These Open Mics are always special. Donations directly benefit this community-supported space.

Signups for performance at 7:30 fill up quickly, and it begins at 8pm.  Bring your creativity and artistic inspiration. $3-7 at the door. No one turned away for lack of funds. 

TPL · Spanish War Tax Resisters Tally Up Their Actions

Some tax resistance news from here and there:

TPL · Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers Unite to Discuss War Taxes

In 1978, representatives from the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers met at Green Lake, Wisconsin, and issued a joint “New Call to Peacemaking” that promoted war tax resistance. Also: some confusion about upcoming Rebeccaite criminal trials.

Continue reading at The Picket Line …