Greek Immigrants in Lewiston Maine Launch Tax Strike

The Lewiston [Maine] Daily Sun carried this story:

Lewiston Greeks Will Not Pay Any More Taxes

Twenty-Five Decided Not to Pay… Intimated That There Will Be Trouble for Collector

Have Held Meetings.

Within the past few nights two meetings of some of the Lewiston Greeks have been held and it has been decided by 25 of them not to pay any poll taxes. It is claimed by some of the greeks that trouble will be made for any person who tries to collect a tax and that the collector will not be in shape to collect any more for sometime, perhaps.

The Greeks say that in all of the two, three, or four years that they have been in this country or in this city, as the case may be, they have never before been compelled to pay a tax and that they do not intend to begin now. It is understood that it has been explained to them that for the $2 poll tax that in return they receive the benefits of the public schools, police and fire protection, and good roads and walks but that they are still unwilling to pay the money, chiefly because they have never done so before.

Among the 25 who have decided to defy the law are Greeks in various professions. Several of them are fruit vendors, dealers, or work in the mills.

Matis Could Collect.

James Matis of 110 Lincoln street who was one of the first Greeks to arrive in Lewiston and who now conducts a boarding house and employment bureau stated last evening that he did not believe that it would be possible for anyone outside of a Greek to collect the taxes without having trouble. “I shall pay my taxes certainly,” said Mr. Matis, “but I don’t know about the rest.

“If I could be appointed a constable I believe that I could collect all of the Greek taxes if they were given me for collection. I know all the Greeks here and I am sure that they would pay if I told them to. I should want one or two other constables to go with me for it was shown only the other night when I went with Mr. Beechard, a constable, that there was trouble and if I should go alone I am certain that there would be a quarrel.”

May Appoint Him Constable

It is understood that at the next meeting of the Lewiston City Government that the name of Mr. Matis will be presented for election as a constable.

Whether there will be any serious trouble about collecting the poll taxes or not can only be seen by time but the way it now looks is that the position of an American collector is likely to be anything but pleasant.

Was this just a ploy by Lewiston’s Greek community to try to get some representation on the police force?

A article from the Lewiston Evening Journal took a closer look at the Greek community in Lewiston. There were several Greek families, but most of the group were single men who worked in Maine and sent money back to their families in Greece.

The Greeks are ever ready to respond to the call of their country’s needs, whether it be to arms, or to help the destitute, to aid in the cause of education, or help to beautify her cities. Wealthy Greeks from all quarters of the globe have contributed generously for all these purposes, and the poorer Greeks banded together into societies all over America, are continually sending home contributions. Yet they never let their compatriots in this country come to want, or ask aid of their adopted country. It would be hard to find a case on record where a Greek, no matter how poor or destitute, has accepted aid from any city or town, not even for burial purposes.

Other news reports from this time show that the police had begun demanding protection money from Greek street vendors and that Greek efforts to get some representation on the police force were still ongoing at least as of . There were also stories from this period about Greeks being arrested for violating prohibition laws and laws prohibiting businesses from being open on Sunday.