Suffragette Tax Resister Sarah E. Wall

Susan B. Anthony addressed the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Woman Suffrage on . She was accompanied by Sarah E. Wall. Wall did not speak, or at least she is not represented in the transcripts, but Anthony introduced her in this way:

Gentlemen of the committee, here is another woman I wish to show you, Sarah E. Wall, of Worcester, Mass., who, for the last twenty-five years, has resisted the tax gatherer when he came around. I want you to look at her. She looks very harmless, but she will not pay a dollar of tax. She says when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will give her the right of representation she will pay her taxes. I do not know exactly how it is now, but the assessor has left her name off the tax-list, and passed her by rather than have a lawsuit with her.

This is how Wall announced her tax resistance (according to the Worcester Daily Spy of ):

Believing with the immortal Declaration of Independence that taxation and representation are inseparable; believing that the Constitution of the State furnishes no authority for the taxation of woman; believing also that the Constitution of the higher law of God, written on the human soul, requires us, if we would be worthy the rich inheritance of the past and true to ourselves and the future, to yield obedience to no statute that shall tend to fetter its aspirations, I shall henceforth pay no taxes until the word male is stricken from the voting clauses of the Constitution of Massachusetts.

Earlier , she had addressed her state legislature’s Joint Special Committee on the Qualifications of Voters, saying:

We do not expect to remedy all the evils of society, or that the defects of woman will be speedily corrected; she will commit her follies still, as man does; she will sometimes make a mistake in voting, as many wise men have done; but with all her follies, and all her mistakes, she cannot possibly bring on the country a more perverted state of the moral atmosphere than the present, or a worse financial crisis than that through which we are now passing. We do not send our petitions to you year after year, merely for you to report “leave to withdraw;” we demand action, immediate action. If it cannot be done in the name of affection, in the name of justice it must be done. If, in the absence of every argument, after the removal of every objection, you still persist in refusing her appeal, but one step remains for her to take, and that is, to refuse to pay taxes, and she will do it.

Having made good on her threat, the tax collector took her to court, and the judge decided the case against her .

Susan B. Anthony also gave a shout-out to Wall when she was defending herself against a criminal charge of Voting While Female:

I would that the women of this republic at once resolve, never again to submit to taxation until their right to vote be recognized.

Miss Sarah E. Wall, of Worcester, Mass., twenty years ago, took this position. For several years, the officers of the law distrained her property and sold it to meet the necessary amount; still she persisted, and would not yield an iota, though every foot of her lands should be struck off under the hammer. And now, for several years, the assessor has left her name off the tax list, and the collector passed her by without a call.

Mrs. J.S. Weeden, of Viroqua, Wis., for the past six years has refused to pay her taxes, though the annual assessment is $75.

Mrs. Ellen Van Valkenburg, of Santa Cruz, Cal., who sued the County Clerk for refusing to register her name, declares she will never pay another dollar of tax until allowed to vote; and all over the country, women property holders are waking up to the injustice of taxation without representation, and ere long will refuse, en masse, to submit to imposition.

, the National Woman Suffrage Association held its Ninth Annual Convention and passed a resolution “That we rejoice in the resistance of Julia and Abby Smith, Abby Kelly Foster, Sarah E. Wall and many more resolute women in various parts of the country, to taxation without representation.”

I haven’t been able to find much else about the tax resistance of J.S. Weeden or Ellen Van Valkenburg.

The Friends’ Review on shared with its readers news of a military draft bill in Congress:

Drafting The Militia.

The bill to enroll and call out the national forces, mentioned as having been passed by the U.S. Senate, was afterwards adopted by the House, with some amendments. Stevens, of Pennsylvania, offered an amendment exempting from the draft persons conscientiously scrupulous against bearing arms, and who shall declare on oath or affirmation that such has been their religious principle for three years; but the proposition was rejected. Committees from the Meeting for Sufferings in Philadelphia and the Representative Meeting of New York proceeded to Washington last week, with memorials to Congress, asking that Friends shall be exempted from the draft, also from the procurement of substitutes and from fines. As the amendments in the House made the return of the bill to the Senate necessary, there was still an opportunity for the suggested change, but no disposition appeared on the part of the majority in Congress to grant exemption on religious considerations, and the law was finally enacted on No provision is made for the collection, by distraint, of the amount required for furnishing a substitute; so that a person who cannot conscientiously bear arms, nor procure a substitute, or pay the amount required for one, will not be liable to a seizure of his property, but must suffer whatever penalty may be imposed upon him, as a deserter, by a court-martial. His penalty may be “death, or such other punishment as by sentence of a court-martial shall be inflicted;” and relief can be obtained only through the clemency of the President.