Tax Resisters in Kenya and France

Okay… let me set the scene: A mass tax resistance campaign, culminating in an organized run on the Bank of England, finally forced the government’s hand, and it passed the Reform Act of over Tory opposition.

Now, , a radical newspaper — The True Sun — puts out a new call for tax resistance. What will the Whig government, which owes so much to the earlier tax resistance campaign, do about these upstarts?

From the Spectator:

We learn from the True Sun, that the Government prosecution against that journal is by ex officio information, founded on the following passages–

It (meaning the said House of Commons) stands in all its unseemliness before us — right in our path — shocking us with its disgusting and loathsome brutality of aspect, and resolved not to crawl an inch out of our way. We must make it. It must move forward. The hideous thing cannot be suffered to squat where it does. If we cannot stir it, we must leap over it (meaning the said House of Commons), at all hazards. We cannot stand here, looking at it day after day, the sight is too sickening, the creature (meaning the said House of Commons) is too venomous — its attitude is too revoltingly ugly. Neither can we descend the precipice which we have scaled, and sink again into the slough of despond. No, we must go on at any rate, or be starved. Well, then, we have tried all ordinary means, we have soothed and implored; we must now employ threats, as we have done before with success, and if threats operate no better than smiles and fair words, we must put these same threats into force. But how? We will see how!

The majority of last night has decided that the rich shall not be taxed according to their means, and that the poor shall continue to be taxed beyond theirs. It has decided that the amount which every man is called upon to pay to government shall not be regulated according to his property. What then remains to be done? The house (meaning the said House of Commons) has rescinded its own resolution of Friday — the people must rescind the resolution of the House of  — they must refuse to pay what they can only pay at the expense of their common ruin. The refusal to pay taxes a few months ago reseated the wretched Whigs in power; a second refusal will unseat them. The Whig Government has taken the advantage of such a step, let it take the adverse consequences of it — let the people, for once, avail themselves of the example of a lord — let them look for precedents in an emergency even among the Peerage — let them do as Lord Milton did, and resist the tax gatherer — and above all things, let the men of the Metropolis be the first to follow the Aristocratic example, by refusing to submit longer to the infamous inequality and injustice of the house and window taxes. The Ministers themselves have denounced these taxes, let the people quietly proceed to extinguish them (meaning the said taxes) and they will.

The next mention of the case I found in the Spectator archives came from the issue:

Messrs. [Patrick] Grant, [John] Bell, and [John] Ager, the proprietors and printer of the True Sun, were tried on , on an ex officio information filed against them for two libels, published on , the alleged tendency of which was to bring the House of Commons into contempt, and to excite the people to resist the payment of the Assessed Taxes. Sir John Campbell conducted the prosecution, and enlarged upon the seditious tendency of the alleged libels; which, be said, did not exhort the people to endeavour to get rid of the Assessed Taxes by constitutional means, but by means subversive of all law and good government. A letter from a Mr. Lorimer, inserted in the True Sun, was read: it stated that “defiance” must be the remedy of tax-payers. Two paragraphs were also quoted, in which the House of Commions was called a loathsome, venomous, sickening, and revoltingly ugly creature, that ought to be removed out of the way. Refusal to pay taxes was mentioned as a necessary measure; and the refusal of Lord Milton was referred to as an example to be followed. Mr. Sergeant Talfourd appeared for Mr. Grant, Mr. Kelly for Mr. Ager, and Mr. Bell addressed the Jury for himself. Sir John Campbell replied, and Judge Patteson charged the Jury; who found all the defendants “guilty.” This verdict excited considerable disapprobation in court; and several times during the speech of the Solicitor-General, be was interrupted and hissed by the spectators.

(Take a note here, oh TEA party: If history is any guide, the Republicans will stand with you right up to the moment you help them take power, and then they’ll turn on you if you threaten to get in their way.)