Boston Pledges Resistance To British Taxes

While I’m here in Boston, enjoying the Fall national gathering of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (and my first visit to a New England War Tax Resistance annual gathering), here are some tax resistance resolutions passed by the town of Boston on :

Whereas it appears by an Act of the British Parliament passed in the last Sessions, that the East India Company are by the said Act allowed to export their Teas into America, in such Quantities as the Lord of the Treasury shall Judge proper: And some People with an evil intent to amuse the People, and others thro’ inattention to the true design of the Act, have so construed the same, as that the Tribute of three Pence on every Pound of Tea is not to be enacted by the detestable Task Masters there — Upon the due consideration thereof, RESOLVED, That the Sense of the Town cannot be better expressed on this Occasion, than in the words of certain Judicious Resolves lately entered into by our worthy Brethren the Citizens of Philadelphia — wherefore

RESOLVED, that the disposal of their own property is the Inherent Right of Freemen; that there can be no property in that which another can of right take from us without our consent; that the Claim of Parliament to tax America, is in other words a claim of Right to lay Contributions on us at pleasure — 

2d. That the Duty imposed by Parliament upon Tea landed in America, is a tax on the Americans, or levying Contributions on them without their consent — 

3d. That the express purpose for which the Tax is levied on the Americans, namely for the support of Government, the Administration of Justice, and the defence of His Majestys Dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render Assemblies useless, and to introduce Arbitrary Government and Slavery — 

4th. That a virtuous and steady opposition to the Ministerial Plan of governing America, is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of Liberty, and is a duty which every Freeman in America owes to his Country to himself and to his Posterity — 

5th. That the Resolutions lately come by the East India Company, to send out their Teas to America Subject to the payment of Duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to enforce the Ministerial Plan, and a violent attack upon the Liberties of America — 

6th. That is is the Duty of every American to oppose this attempt — 

7th. That whoever shall directly or indirectly countenance this attempt, or in any wise aid or abet in unloading receiving or vending the Tea sent or to be sent out by the East India Company while it remains subject to the payment of a duty here is an Enemy to America — 

8th. That a Committee be immediately chosen to wait on those Gentlemen, who it is reported are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said Tea, and to request them from a regard to their own characters and the peace and good order of this Town and Province immediately to resign their appointment.

It’s become fashionable in some quarters to claim that the Boston Tea Party wasn’t a tax protest at all, and that people who have since conducted tax protests using the mantle of the Boston Tea Party have misapprehended the nature of the original. Certainly, it wasn’t just a tax protest, but clearly the tax on tea was at the forefront of the protesters’ minds.


The Vote

From an issue of The Vote dated :

Welsh Campaign.

An original form of handbill, under the guise of a summons, was used to announce a protest meeting, held in connection with the sale of Mrs. [Mary McLeod] Cleeves’ thirty-pound dogcart, which had been distrained in lieu of one pound fine, of the W.F.L., held at the Bush Hotel, Sketty, at . It was a most appropriate one for a Tax Resistance meeting, and both Sketty village and Swansea town were delightedly excited over it.

The sale of Mrs. Cleeves’ dog-cart took place at the Bush Hotel, Sketty, on afternoon. The W.F.L. held their protest meeting outside — much to the discomfort of the auctioneer, who declared the impossibility of “drowning the voice outside.” Mr. Hyde opened the meeting, using the full force of his seaman’s lungs, and drawing together the large crowd that was awaiting our arrival long before .

At the sale the only persons to bid were a policeman and Mrs. Ross — one of our keenest Swansea members. The dog-cart was knocked down to Mrs. Ross, who promptly restored it to Mrs. Cleeves. This announcement was received with loud cheers. At the close of the meeting many postcards were signed, and many congratulations offered on the marked success which had attended the whole of the proceedings. Three cheers for Mrs. Cleeves were given with great gusto. A number of colliers, fresh from work, dragged the dog-cart out of the coach-house, begged Mrs. Cleeves to get into it, and ran it up to Chez Nous, a considerable part of the distance being up steep inclines.

The following resolution — copies of which have been sent to Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith — was passed by a large majority:

“That this meeting protests against the action of the Government in forcing a woman to pay a tax when she is not represented.”

Marguerite A. Sidley.


From the issue of the Poverty Bay Herald:

Inquiries in Government circles show that there is no disposition to belittle the earnestness and sincerity of the Ulster businessmen’s demonstration . The Government realises, however, how futile is the threat to refuse to pay taxes. No business firm could persist in its refusal to pay the customs or excise tax, for the customs officers would immediately paralyse its business by withholding supplies. Belfast’s great tobacco industry would thus be at once ruined. The income tax is collected at its source. What the taxpayer receives is his dividend, less the tax on it. The only chance of success would lie in the possibility that the Irish banks would become parties to the resistance and this is most unlikely. Ireland has no tax on dogs or manservants. Officials here say the only national taxes which Belfast could refuse to pay would be paltry sums collectable on motor cars, game keepers, public houses, and the like.

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