I came across this article in The Mennonite when I was researching American Mennonite war tax resistance last year:
Dr. Anna Shaw Refuses Taxation
Because She Is Neither a “Him” Nor An “It”.
Philadelphia, — Who is an “it” and what is an “it”? are questions being asked by Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, in connection with her refusal to declare the value of her personal property for taxation. The blank sent Dr. Shaw to be filled out called for a declaration on personal property owned by “him or it” and the suffrage leader argues that [as] she is neither a “him”, nor an “it”, she is, therefore exempt.
When Dr. Shaw refused to declare the value of her property at Moylan, Pa., the county commissioners placed on it an assessed valuation of $30,000. This, according to Miss Lucy Anthony, her secretary, is nearly four times its actual value.
“The blanks we received on which Dr. Shaw was to make her declaration called for personal property owned by ‘him’ or ‘it’,” said Miss Anthony today, “and I have never known an ‘it’ to pay any kind of taxes. ‘It’ usually refers to animals or inanimate objects, and I never knew the state to demand taxes of them.”
Miss Anthony intimated that Dr. Shaw, who is now on a lecture tour, probably would begin a legal battle over the question of “it”.