“Non-Communist Demonstrators” Protest War Taxes

I like the “non-Communist demonstrators” bit. From the New York Times (excerpt):

In a faint protest against tax funds going for military spending, ten non-Communist demonstrators picketed the office of the Third Internal Revenue District at 110 East Forty-fifth Street and reported that forty-one persons in the nation were refusing to pay part of their income taxes because of objections to arming.

The anti-war pickets at the Third District, who paraded , called themselves the Tax Refusal Committee of Peacemakers with headquarters at 2013 Fifth Avenue. They distributed leaflets saying that the “real crime in connection with the Bureau of Internal Revenue” is not corruption but collection of money for “preparations for mass murder — for a third world war.”

Among the forty-one Americans listed as refusing to pay part of their taxes as an anti-arms protest were the Rev. A.J. Muste and the Rev. George M. Houser, both officers of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a pacifist group; James Peck, a restaurant worker, of 552 Riverside Drive, and his wife, and Miss Mary S. McDowell, a retired school teacher, of 555 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn.

Mr. Hoffman said his district had received “maybe a dozen” letters from taxpayers declaring that they were paying only 45 per cent of their taxes, to cover non-arms parts of the Federal budget. The collector reported that the office would bill them for the rest and attach their property is [sic] necessary.

Some of these names are pretty new to me. George M. Houser I think is still around, and you can find some stuff on line about him and his long career in activism.

Mary S. McDowell was fired from her job as a teacher for the crime of being a pacifist. As the Times put it at the time: “officials feel that a teacher with pacifist views cannot give satisfactory service at present because of the many war-time activities engaging the attention of the children.” She apparently wrote some editorials on the subject of war tax resistance, but I haven’t found them yet. An excerpt from a letter she wrote to the IRS in , the year before she died, reads:

In reply to your notice of that I owe… 246.28… I believe that war is wicked and contrary to our democratic faith… and it is also contrary to our Christian faith which teaches us to overcome evil with good. Moreover, in the atomic age and in an interdependent world, even victorious war could only bring disaster to our own country as well as others. War preparations and threats of atomic war cannot give us security. True patriotism calls for world-wide cooperation for human welfare and immediate steps toward universal disarmament through the United Nations. Accordingly, I still refuse to pay the 70% of the tax which I calculate is the proportion of the tax used for present and future wars. The portion used for civilian welfare I am glad to pay.

Among James Peck’s other adventures in pacifist agitation included a three-year stint in prison as a draft resister during World War Ⅱ, piloting a sailboat into a nuclear weapons testing zone in the Pacific to try to disrupt the tests, engaging in the Freedom Rides and attempts to integrate restaurants in the South, and disrupting an event where President Lyndon Johnson was scheduled to accept the “National Freedom Award” from the U.S.-government funded group Freedom House to give him lip about Vietnam.

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax and Census Resistance.

An Unusual Procedure.

The hon. treasurer of our Brighton branch (Mrs. Jones-Williams) is the first person in Brighton to refuse to pay taxes as a protest against the unenfranchised condition of women. The local authorities, apparently not knowing the usual procedure, took the unusual course of sending a bailiff to take possession. Thanks to the activity of some members of the men’s league, the authorities consented to the man being in “walking possession.”

Once before this course has been taken, when a bailiff was put in possession at Mrs. Rose Hyland’s in Manchester. Not even this unnecessary piece of annoyance will make us pause in our efforts to refuse our consent to taxation without representation.

Sale on .

We congratulate the Brighton branch and Mrs. Jones-Williams on the firm stand they have made in the matter, and urge all Suffragists in the town to rally to the protest meeting . Mrs. [Edith] How-Martyn will be one of the speakers.

Another Passive Resister,

and a member of the N.E.C., Mrs. Francis, the hon. secretary of the branch, writes:— “ ‘With this ring I thee wed’ — that’s sorcery; ‘with my body I thee worship’ — that’s idolatry; and ‘with my worldly goods I thee endow’ — that’s a lie,” says old Sir J. Bowring.

“Wishing to test the validity or otherwise of the vow which, according to the forms of the Established Church, my husband made at the altar at the time of our marriage, and also with an ever-increasing sense that tax-resistance is not only morally justifiable, but morally imperative, I have refused consent, as joint controller of our mutual finances, to the payment of my half of the year’s taxes. My husband has therefore retained this amount while paying his own share, and explaining the reasons for taking this action. An entreating letter has followed from the tax-collector, but the threat of distraint has not yet been received.

“We hope that if and when these protests have to be pushed to extremity our friends will do their utmost to help make them widely known and effective.”

Also from the same issue:

Tax Resisters’ Protest.

Notwithstanding the mud and odoriferous atmosphere of the back streets off Drury-lane, quite a large number of members of the Tax Resisters’ League, the Women’s Freedom League, and the Women’s Social and Political Union, met outside Bulloch’s Sale Rooms shortly after to protest against the sale of Miss Bertha Brewster’s goods, which had been seized because of her refusal to pay her Imperial taxes. Before the sale took place, Mrs. Gatty, as chairman, explained to at least a hundred people the reasons of Miss Brewster’s refusal to pay her taxes and the importance of the constitutional principle that taxation without representation is tyranny, which this refusal stood for. Miss Leonora Tyson proposed the resolution protesting against the injustice of this sale, and it was seconded by Miss F[lorence]. A. Underwood, and supported by Miss Brackenbury. The resolution was carried with only two dissentients, and these dissentients were women!

Also from the same issue:

Women’s Tax Resistance League.

On , a drawing-room meeting was held at 30, Hyde Park Gate, by kind permission of Mrs. [Adela] Stanton Coit. Mrs. [Edith] Zangwill was in the chair, and gave an opening address which was full of charm and subtle truth. Her delightful personality always serves to emphasise the depth of thought contained in her remarks. Miss [Alice] Abadam was the principal speaker, and her address was a masterpiece of oratory directed to emphasise the grave responsibility of the taxpaying women of this country towards the moral, spiritual and political emancipation of woman. Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes gave a short account of the work of the society, formed to put into practice the principles of tax resistance, which was followed by a good discussion, opened by Dr. Stanton Coit. The secretary of the league also addressed a crowded audience in the Public Hall, Croydon, on the subject of tax resistance, , and the chair was taken by Miss Green, treasurer for the local branch of the W.S.P.U.