Suffragists in Wisconsin Organize Tax Strike

From the New York Times:

Rebellion in Wisconsin.

The women of Wisconsin have apparently forgotten the story of the Glastonbury sisters [Julia & Abby Smith], two ladies with dauntless tongue the little tyrants and tax-gatherers of their fields withstood up in Connecticut some thirty years ago. You do not let us vote, therefore we will pay no taxes, they cried to the tax man; taxation without representation is unconstitutional and wicked. Get thee hence. The woman suffragists of Wisconsin announce their intention to play the game in that way. They have formed a league, they will take a census of the women taxpayers, the list of names will be published and used as a basis of a “protest to the Legislature against taxation without representation.” Later, when 10,000 names have been secured to a pledge, the women will refuse to pay taxes, and the questions involved will be taken to the courts. This course, it has been reported, has been approved by prominent women lawyers of Wisconsin interested in the women’s suffrage movement.

This is about the worst thing that could be said about the women lawyers of Wisconsin. Instead of encouraging the rebellion of their sisters they should advise them that they have got the thing all wrong. They should tell them that the suffrage is not a right, but a privilege, which Legislatures may withhold or confer in their discretion; that the handy phrase, taxation without representation, refers to communities, colonies, or subject States, and has no bearing upon the case of an individual. If the women property owners of Wisconsin, after their property has been duly assessed and tax bills have been presented, defiantly and seditiously refuse to pay the same, the State will in the most matter-of-fact way levy upon their property and sell it for taxes, just as if the owner were a mere man and voter. The Glastonbury sisters up in Connecticut were baffled and routed in their attempt to withhold taxes in order to extort from an unwilling State the privilege of the vote. That is what will happen in Wisconsin, the women lawyers to the contrary notwithstanding.

A suffrage referendum failed in Wisconsin in , but the state was the first in the union to ratify the 19th Amendment granting women the “privilege” to vote in .

The Wisconsin “Tax Paying Woman’s Pledge” that the article alludes to may have been this one:

We, the tax paying women of Wisconsin, hereby agree to do what we can by protest and argument to emphasize the fact that taxation without representation is tyranny as much for American women today as it was for American colonists in . And we also pledge ourselves that when 5,000 or more women in Wisconsin shall have similarly enrolled we will simultaneously take action by whatever method may seem best in accordance with official advice from the Wisconsin Suffrage Association to the end that public attention may be thoroughly and effectively called to the injustice and injury done to women by taxing them without giving them any voice as to how their money should be employed.

Though there was also talk of a 10,000-signer threshold and of tax resistance as the explicit pre-declared strategy, so perhaps there was a second pledge I haven’t located yet.

From the Toledo Blade:

Dodd Stays On After Dismissal By Church Group

Pacifist Says He Acted As Individual In Withholding Tax

Dr. Aleck Dodd, discharged as head of pastoral relations of the Toledo Council of Churches because of his refusal to pay federal income taxes in full, will remain in the city and continue his counseling work, he announced .

He was dismissed after the Internal Revenue Bureau had filed a tax lien for $150.47 in unpaid income tax for against him. Dr. Dodd said he was refusing to pay that part of his income tax as a protest against the country’s military expenditures.

In a statement to The Blade , Dr. Dodd said he and his wife regretted the position in which his action had placed the Council of Churches.

“Acted As Individual”

“In this matter, I acted as an individual and on the basis of my obedience to the will of God as I understand it,” he said.

“Our real reason for our action is a religious one,” the statement continued in part. “Since we are seeking to put our whole selves in accord with the purposes of God, we have to bring our finances in line. We believe that if we are to draw nearer to Him, we must use our entire resources for the promotion of ‘peace on earth, good will to men.’

“It is not government officials or bureaus, nor the government itself we are opposing, though it may appear so. It is rather an evil system of thinking, feeling and acting in which we all share.”

Seeks To Protect Family

Dr. Dodd said that the transfer of his property at 727 Grove Place was made to his wife by him in order to “protect my family from the possible results of my action, and not to evade the collection of my tax by due process of law. While I could not voluntarily pay this amount, $150.47, I made no attempt to prevent it being taken from me.

“The part of our income tax we decline to pay, we paid to such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee for use in the relief of the distresses caused by war.”

The Rev. J. Kenneth Cutler, president of the Toledo Council of Churches, commented on the Dodd case before his congregation in Rosewood Presbyterian Church yesterday.

Climax Of Long Series

“The Dr. Dodd case is the climax of a long series of things which have caused the confidence of many ministers and laymen in the council to be shaken,” he said.

“In the last four and a half years, six major employees of the council have resigned, some of them voluntarily but some of them were practically forced to resign and those within the inner circle of the council know this to be true. Such a turnover is not healthy to any organization. Furthermore, the control and red tape of the council has been stifling to the free and democratic spirit of the Protestant churches.

“The by-laws of the council have supposedly been under study for the past two annual meetings but have never been reported back for adoption by the official body of the council.

“Because of my deep personal concern, and the concern of many others, to have a stronger and more effective Council of Churches in Toledo whose voice will be listened to and respected, I am willing to risk my future as a pastor in this city to see that this is brought about or to fail in doing it.

“My one and only concern is to see the council strengthened and to see that a proper defense of Dr. Dodd to the right to hold his position as a member of the Christian community in this city is made.”

Rejects Explanation

The Rev. A. S. Carlson, pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church and president of the council, declared that what Mr. Cutler said is “beside the immediate issue. He is dealing with various items that have preceded this action. If we want a united Protestantism, a submarining attack is not going to bring it back.”

An earlier article on Aleck Dodd’s tax resistance read:

U.S. Files Tax Lien Against Pacifist Pastor

Cleric Refuses To Pay $150 Of Income For ‘War Purposes’

The Internal Revenue Bureau yesterday in County Recorder’s office filed a tax lien for $150.47, representing unpaid income tax for , against the Rev. Aleck D. Dodd, 727 Grove Place, head of the Toledo Council of Churches pastoral services.

He is one of 43 pacifists who last March declared they would refuse to pay all or a part of their income taxes this year as a protest against the nation’s military expenditures.

At that time Mr. Dodd said that he and his wife “are paying part of our income tax because we believe in supporting all constructive things the Government is doing, but we are declining to pay that percentage of it which we understand goes for purposes of war.”

Mr. Dodd said today the $150.47 represents that part of his income tax which he believes would be used for war purposes. He added he did not know how the Government intends to collect as all of his property is now in his wife’s name.

County Recorder’s records show that on parts of Lots 208 and 209, Scottwood Addition, were transferred by Mr. Dodd to his wife, Ruth.

Mr. Dodd has been associated with the church council for five years.