A Window on American War Tax Resistance in 1951

While I wasn’t paying attention, someone scanned in many back issues of Friends Bulletin, the journal of the Pacific Yearly Meeting and Pacific Coast Association of Friends. This has allowed me another window onto the state of American war tax resistance, Quaker war tax resistance in particular, in .

Here, for example, from the issue, is an article on an early Peacemakers tax refusal pledge that includes a complete list of signatories, including several I hadn’t heard of before:

Tax Refusal

On there were among those who did not pay their Federal income taxes the following 59 persons who joined together to support a statement distributed by the Tax Refusal Committee of Peacemakers, 2013 Fifth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. Reverend Ernest Bromley is chairman of this subcommittee of Peacemakers: A.J. Muste is secretary of Peacemakers. A part of their statement is: “Feeling that war must inevitably come unless something drastic is done by individuals to show their unwillingness to go along with war-making policies of their governments, we the undersigned state hereby that we are not going to pay our federal income taxes due . For some of us this means that we will not pay that percentage which corresponds to the nation’s outlay for militarism; for others of us it means we will not pay even the first cent for the maintenance of a government whose main business is preparation for annihilation…”

The signers were: Ernest and Marion Bromley, Golay Rd., Gano, Sharonville, Ohio; Lindley and Emma Burton, Low Buildings, Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Horace and Ava Champney, 512 Phillips St., Yellow Springs, O.; Sara Chase, 1525 Sutter St., San Francisco, Calif.; Samuel and Clarissa Cooper, 214 Eastbourne Terr., Moorestown, N.J.; Dorothy DaPonte, Rte. 4, Box 374, Mobile, Ala.; Margaret E. Dungan, Wallingford, Penna.; Arthur Evans, Awbury, Penna.; Rebecca Winsor Evans, Radnor, Penna.; Fyke Farmer, Bellevue Dr., Nashville, Tenn.; Rev. Marion Frenyear, So. Hartford, N.Y.; Henry and Beatrice Dyer, Yellow Springs, O.; Walter Gormly, 412 N. 3rd St., W., Mt. Vernon, Iowa; Konrad Halle, 76 Pinehurst Ave., New York 33, N.Y.

Gerald Haynes, R.R. No. 3, Freeport, Maine; Ammon Hennacy, Rte. 3, Box 227, Phoenix, Ariz.; Rev. George Houser, 21 Audubon Ave., New York 32, N.Y.; Woodbridge O. Johnson, Jr., 106 W. 3rd St., Parkville, Mo.; Sandy Katz 232 W. 29th St., New York 1, N.Y.; Ruth C. LaBarrer, 6 Nutt Ave., Uniontown, Pa.; Sarah B. Leeds, 28 E. Main St., Moorestown, N.J.; Walter and Emily Longstreth, 140 N. 15th St., Philadelphia 2, Pa.; Mary Bacon Mason, 31 Pleasant St., Newton Center, Mass.; Rev. Maurice F. McCrackin, 1111 Dayton St., Cincinnati 14, O.; Mary S. McDowell, 555 Ocean Ave., Brooklyn 26, N.Y.; Rev. A.J. Muste, 21 Audubon Ave., New York 32, N.Y.; Ax Nelson, 501 Benvenue, Los Altos, Calif.; Wallace and Juanita Nelson, Golay Rd., in Gano, Sharonville, O.; Ray and Jean Olds, Yellow Springs, O.; Raymond F. Olds, Monterey, Mass.; Storrs F. Olds, Monterey Rd., Great Barrington, Mass.; Jim Otsuka, Rte. 1, Cloverdale, Mich.; Mrs. Gordon Parker, 1401 Wood Ave., Colorado Springs, Colo.; Mabel G. Parker, 1804 Wood Ave., Colorado Springs, Colo.;

James and Paula Peck, 552 Riverside Dr., New York, N.Y., Miriam Pennypacker, 6420 Drexel Rd., Philadelphia 31, Pa.; Grace Rhoads, Box 90, Moorestown, N.J.; Elizabeth and Edward C.M. Richards, Nur Mahal, R.D. 3, West Chester, Pa.; Francis and Valerie Riggs, 23 Coolidge Hill Rd., Cambridge 38, Mass.; Margaret Schauffler, 100 S. Cedar St., Oberlin, O.; Robert and Marjorie Swann, R. 1, Cloverdale, Mich.; Ralph and Lila Templin, Box 125, Yellow Springs, O.; Caroline F. Urie, 128 S. Walnut St., Yellow Springs, O.; Ellen Winsor, Radnor, Pa.; Abraham and Jean Zwickel, P.O. Box 232, Pismo Beach, Calif.

And here’s an early example of a plea for a “peace tax”-style accommodation for conscientious objectors to military taxation, from the issue:

Tax Petition

On , in Whittier, Calif., there was combined with the annual meeting of the southern California office of the Fellowship of Reconciliation a program sponsored by the Peace Board of California Yearly Meeting. One of the results of the day is the following petition:

To the Congress of the United States of America

We the undersigned citizens of the United States of America believe:

That present tensions between the free enterprise and communist group of nations are the result of reliance upon military force as an instrument of political determination;

That the threat or use of such force can never result in a just or mutually satisfactory resolution of these tensions;

That the labor and material expended in building up military might would have and still might lead to a peaceful and mutually satisfactory solution if used instead indiscriminately to rebuild the homes and industries destroyed in the last war.

We further believe:

That the military way violates the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and the Golden Rule by which a Christian must live.

That to supply the means to induce of compel another to do that which we cannot do is equally a violation of those Commandments.

Therefore relying on our Constitutional Bill of Rights which our nation is this week honoring, and the Right of Petition thereby guaranteed, we humbly pray your august body that you pass legislation exempting all of like religious belief from income tax to be used in support of military establishment and substitute the use of that portion of our tax which is to our total tax as the amount used for military is to the national total, to that committee of the United Nations seeking a peaceful abatement of these tensions, thus giving the citizens of the United States the opportunity of paying taxes for the support of war or peace according to the dictates of their own conscience.