William Evans Describes Sufferings of Quaker Tax Resisters

Quaker William Evans wrote in his journal on :

In consequence of the fines assessed by the late court-martial, upon Friends, who could not comply with the requisitions of the Government, either to serve in the recent war with Great Britain, or to furnish substitutes, the houses of many were visited by the marshal’s deputies, and their bedding and furniture carried off by cart loads. In several instances the value of the goods distrained was from one hundred to two hundred dollars. One Friend, residing in the vicinity of the city, had his carriage, worth one hundred, dollars taken and sold for rather more than forty dollars. The fine being fifty dollars, the deputy returned and took his chaise, which lately cost one hundred dollars. Thus a family were not only deprived of the means of conveyance to their religious meetings, but compelled to sustain a loss of two hundred dollars to meet a fine of fifty dollars, arbitrarily imposed by a court-martial, from whose decisions there is no appeal. These decisions were evidently marked with great partiality; as a neighbor of the Friend was fined but nine dollars, though no shade of difference could be perceived in the circumstances of the respective cases; except that one was a member of a religious society whose testimony against war is coeval with its existence. While these distraints and great sacrifice of Friends’ property were carrying on, they did not fail to lay account of them before the public through the medium of one of the daily papers, and some of them were such flagrant violations of what even military men would regard as just, that they brought some of the deputies to shame, and a stop was put to it.

The unjust proceedings consequent upon the late war, often led me to many serious reflections upon its desolating effects, both in the destruction of human life, and the unjust persecution of conscientious men who cannot join in with it. The mind that is clothed with Divine love, the charity which endureth all things, sincerely and humbly desires the welfare of all men, even of those who treat us with coldness, or actuated by the spirit of revenge, seek to injure us. Where this heavenly feeling subsists, the spirit of revenge, which is the spirit of war, has no place. One is from heaven, from the Fountain of love, which seeks the salvation of all men; the other is derived from the malevolence of the fallen spirits or devils, who are constantly seeking the injury and final destruction of all men.