Socialist Refuses to Pay Poll Tax

From the New York Times:

In Jail for Flouting Poll Tax.

Special to The New York Times.

Having said in the press and elsewhere that he would not pay the dollar yearly poll tax, Louis Josephson, a Socialist agitator, was arrested by Delinquent Tax Collector J. Edwin Fell and put in jail. With costs, the claim of the city against Josephson is $2.04, but he refuses to pay it. He says the tax is unconstitutional.

I haven’t been able to find out much more about Josephson. There’s a mention of him being banned by the authorities from speaking at a labor strike in , but that’s about it.

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Dr. [Winifred] Patch’s Tax Resistance.

The public examination of Dr. Patch (Women’s Freedom League) in the bankruptcy proceedings against her by the Inland Revenue Department brought together a large crowd of suffragists belonging to all suffrage societies at Bankruptcy Buildings last Tuesday morning. The officials were astonished to see women bringing in extra benches and overflowing into the solicitors’ seats and the Press pen.

The usual first item on the programme is the swearing of the alleged bankrupt. Dr. Patch was therefore invited to take the oath, but replied that that was impossible, as she could not bow to the authority of that Court; a suggestion that she should affirm instead of swearing received the same answer. The Court, being thus up against an insurmountable obstacle, waited a moment and thought it over.

Dr. Patch refused to answer any questions, “not recognising that the Court had any authority over her,” and the only information that the Court could secure was that she was determined not to pay the tax demanded, and that nothing they could do would maker her. Asked whether she quite understood the fearful consequences of persistence (imprisonment &c.), she assured the Court that she was prepared for anything that might come.

Further progress seemed difficult, and the solicitor to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue suggested that the proceedings should be adjourned sine die, but the Court preferred to adjourn the case for three weeks, making the cryptic remark that three weeks would be “quite sufficient.”

The next gathering, therefore, will be on at Bankruptcy Buildings, Carey-street. is the date of the official “Women’s Day,” and very appropriate for the next state of this protest.

Meeting at the Women’s Freedom League Headquarters.

There was a splendid gathering at the meeting at Headquarters to support the protest of Dr. Patch, and keen appreciation was expressed of her courageous stand at this time on behalf of unenfranchised women. Dr. [Elizabeth] Knight presided, and pointed out that if the Government would enfranchise women much time would be saved that is now spent in endeavours to discover facts about tax-resisters, and the country would be better administered.

Dr. Patch’s statement of her experiences as a tax-resister and of the steps which led to the proceedings of , aroused special interest. She declared that her action was not prompted by unpatriotic motives, as she was ready to give her utmost to the country — but of her own free will; her protest was against taxation without representation.

Mr. Pethick Laurence said that, as far as he knew, he and Dr. Patch were the only suffragists who had gone through the inconvenient form of protest of bankruptcy proceedings. It was a form which caused inconvenience to the authorities, and brought home to the public the meaning of the suffrage agitation. In an interesting survey of the situation to-day he discussed the Report of the Electoral Conference, and insisted that no franchise would be satisfactory which did not achieve equality for men and women. Even in the most remote and unlikely possibility of the votes of all men being cast on one side and of all women on the other in an important issue, it would only mean the majority rule on which the administration of the country is based.

Mrs. [Charlotte] Despard, a veteran tax-resister, said she had offered to give voluntarily the amount demanded of her by the Revenue authorities to any war charity, but her offer had not been accepted, and spoke strongly on the importance of resisting the possible conscription of voteless women. The League meant to live up to its title, and women would only be free when they stood shoulder to shoulder as equals with men in the service of humanity.

Miss [Kate] Raleigh, another tax-resister, showed how the very universe works by the power of resistance, and urged the need for continuous resistance to fictitious ideas, including man’s domination of woman. If conscription of voteless women should be attempted, sex oppression will follow.

Miss [Florence A.] Underwood, in paying tribute to Dr. Patch, as did all the speakers, made a stirring appeal to women suffragists to rally round the Flag and show Parliament, the public, and the Press that they were alive and active and meant to win their victory — the vote on equal terms with men.