Tax Resisters for Women’s Suffrage in the U.S.

Today, some more news clippings concerning tax resistance in the American women’s suffrage movement, featuring resisters Belle Squire, L.J. Craniels, and Lillian Russell.

From the Davie Record of Mocksville, North Carolina:

Refuses to Pay Tax Unless Allowed to Vote.

Miss Belle Squire, president of the “No Vote, No Tax League,” of Chicago, refused to fill out a personal property tax schedule. Instead she wrote this letter in a blank space of the schedule and mailed it to the assessors:

Gentlemen: Just so long as the county of Cook hands me a tax schedule on the ground that I am a citizen of Illinois and must pay my share of the common expense, and then refuse me a ballot on the ground that I am a woman and as a woman have no right to make my citizenship effectual, just so long I refuse to be voluntarily on your lists. I decline the honor.

If too, in the sight of the State, only male brains are capable of solving the intricate problems of politics and government, I decline to worry my female brain to solve the problem how that government is to meet its bills.

I was born a female. No tears, no prayers will change that fact and I refuse to apologize for being what I am or to make excuses for the kind of body the Creator gave me. Therefore I absolutely refuse to aid or support the government that dishonors and demeans my womanhood.

From the Chicago Daily Tribune:

No Vote; Refuses to Pay Tax

Ardent Suffraget Quits Vermont for Massachusetts.

Wants Foss for President

Miss L.J. Craniels Champions Man Who Favors Women’s Rights.

[By a staff correspondent.]

 — One suffraget, who chose to leave her native state rather than pay taxes without representation, is a visitor at the Democratic national convention. She is Miss L.J. Craniels, now of Boston, but formerly a resident of Vermont. She is a great friend of Gov. Foss and leaves unused no opportunity to talk for suffrage.

“I transferred my residence from Vermont to Massachusetts,” she said today, “when I had trouble with the tax gatherers. I refused to pay taxes because I was not given the right of franchise.

Calls Taxation Tyranny

“I own considerable property in Vermont and I took the view of our forefathers that ‘taxation without representation is tyranny.’

“I believed it unfair that I should contribute money to help pay the expenses of the state and be given no vote, while men who had no property were given the ballot. So I left the state.”

“But did your change of residence make you immune from taxation in Vermont?” she was asked.

Nephew Out Stocks and Money

“Not entirely,” she replied, “but it reduced the amount one-half. They did attach some stocks in the bank and sold them at auction, because I refused to pay the taxes. My nephew bought them up. Then it was found there was no law under which the property could be transferred to him. So I’m still getting the dividends and my nephew is out both stocks and money.”

Miss Craniels will take part in the suffrage parade and she is boosting Gov. Foss for the presidential nomination. She wants him because he favors woman suffrage, she said.

I haven’t been able to find out anything else about Ms. Craniels. She seems strangely to have left little trace other than this one article. Newspaper archive searches come up empty, and she doesn’t appear in books of American women’s suffrage history, at least not under that name.

From the Topeka Daily Capital:

Won’t Pay Income Tax Without Vote

“Col.” Lillian Russell, Famous Stage Beauty, Announces She Will Go to Jail Rather Than Pay New Federal Tax.

Asks Other Women To Help

Actress Suggests Another Boston “Tea Party” to Right Wrongs of Her Sex — Wants Ballot Before Taxes.

 — As a protest against the denial of the ballot to women and as a means of arousing American women to the pitch of near-militant methods, Lillian Russell, the actress, will refuse to pay her income tax to the federal government. Miss Russell made this announcement at a dinner at the home of her cousin, H.H. Watts, 1112 East Armour boulevard, . The party was given in honor of the birthday of the actress’s husband, Alexander A. Moore, owner of the Pittsburg Leader and a Bull Moose leader, who is said to have indorsed heartily his talented wife’s determination to resist “taxation without representation.” In the party were Edward Dickinson, vice president of the Orient railway, and a number of other men of prominence. A remark by one of them concerning the new income tax elicited the startling announcement by Miss Russell, whose income from writings and theatrical engagements is said to exceed $100,000 a year.

Received Notice in K.C.

“I received my income tax forms in Kansas City this week,” said Miss Russell. “I have been thinking the matter over very carefully and have even consulted an attorney. I do not know as yet of any sure way to defeat the tax at law, but I have decided not to pay. I am pretty busy and have no desire to go to jail for resisting the tax, but I say in all seriousness that it is high time that some woman or many women would go to jail as a protest against taxation without representation.”

“Suppose that you actually do have to go to jail for refusal to pay?” was suggested by a member of the party, said to be Mr. Dickinson.

“I am a very busy woman,” repeated Miss Russell. “I do not want to go to jail. But I shall refuse to pay my income tax.”

A fact that has been quite generally forgotten is that Miss Russell comes of suffragist stock. Cynthia Leonard, her mother, ran for mayor of New York at the time that Belva Lockwood ran for president. Both women announced their candidacies as a protest against the denial of the ballot.

Abuse of Taxation.

“This ancient abuse of taxing those who are not permitted to say how public funds shall be spent was responsible for the Boston tea party,” continued Miss Russell. “In the present situation someone should throw some more tea overboard. I have made up my mind that I shall take the initiative. I do not believe in the methods of the English militants, except that I am firmly convinced that in America it would be a good thing for women to suffer imprisonment rather than to continue to submit to injustice.

“I believe that leaders such as Mrs. Belmont and the women who have rallied about her should seize this opportunity to win their battle for the ballot. I propose to communicate with them for the purpose of enlisting their co-operation. I propose to agitate the question wherever I may go from now on.

“I am not opposed to the income tax as an income tax. I believe that all incomes should be taxed. I shall most cheerfully pay mine when I am given the ballot. And I can assure the gentlemen that we women will do less ‘swearing off’ of taxes than the average men. An affidavit means more to us, for one thing.”

This was a pretty big deal. Lillian Russell was one of the bigger celebrities of her day.