Rev. Charles F. Aked on Nonconformists’ Tax Resistance

On , the New York Times profiled the Reverend Charles F. Aked, a nonconforming protestant who was leaving England to set up shop in New York.

Aked was involved in the tax resistance by English nonconformists who did not want their tax dollars paying for sectarian schooling, and this comes up in the profile:

“My passion has always been for liberty,” he said, “and to work for those who are struggling for liberty.”

Along these lines he represents an advanced school of thought, and is considered one of the foremost preachers of England. He is conspicuous as a reformer. He attacks municipal questions and social vices, especially intemperance. He was a leader in the Armenian movement in England and one of the founders of the Passive Resistance League, whose members, as Nonconformists, refuse to pay the tax imposed to support the teachings of the Church of England in the schools.

Mr. Aked’s desire for liberty of speech in the Boer war extended even to the point of riot and bodily violence. During the Matabele and Mashona campaigns of he denounced the English policy persistently. Then came of crushing defeat for the British in the Transvaal. Mr. Aked announced a lecture on the iniquity of the British rule for . Two hundred policemen came to his Liverpool chapel to preserve order. So great was the excitement that Mr. Aked and his wife were forced to leave the building by a side door. A mob of 1,000 people followed their carriage, tried to wreck Mr. Aked’s dwelling, and shattered all the windows.

Mr. Aked persisted in denouncing the Government. The scenes were repeated each Sunday. The police guard was increased to 300. The riots became a habit with the people. The disorders finally ceased when the clergyman agreed to leave Liverpool for one Sunday. Then the rioters were dispersed.

Aked later worked in the peace movement during World War Ⅰ and afterwards continued to work for disarmament and some sort of international legal order to mediate disputes between nations, under the auspices of Henry Ford’s peace projects.

He once told an audience at the National Council of Congregational Churches:

“…You yourselves at times mildly reprove the individual whom you call an ultra-pacifist; you blandly remark upon the impracticability of what you designate as peace-at-any-price doctrines; you pray for Peace and you prepare for War. In a word: There is war in the world today because you, and men and women like you, and men and women not so wise and good as you, believe that war has to be. And war will cease throughout the world when you, and men and women like you and men and women not so wise and good as you, believe that war need not be. We have to change the atmosphere…”

I haven’t found any evidence that Aked tried to bring the tactics of the “passive resisters” in England into the American peace movement. Aked was also involved in the temperance movement, and was an ally of Ida B. Wells in her anti-lynching campaign.

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