We Have Become a Race of Confirmed Tax-Resisters

An editorial in New Orleans Daily Democrat on decried the proliferation of organized tax resistance in the United States. Excerpt:

When Dickens was over here he paid Americans a deserved compliment for the promptitude with which they stepped up and paid their taxes. “The tax collector does not come to your house,” he says, “but invites you to his. Imagine an Englishman hunting up this collector to pay his taxes to him.” But this promptitude, which struck Dickens so forcibly, and seemed to him an earnest proof that Americans felt a patriotic pride in their country and were willing to aid it in every way possible, is now, alas! extinct — no longer exists; and we have become instead a race of confirmed tax-resisters. The disease is growing worse every year; at first it was only legal taxes that were resisted, now it is all; at first it was only a few litigious persons that fought the government, soon it became the whole mass of the property holders; tax-resisting associations and tax-resisting leagues were organized everywhere to fight the government in every court. The bitterness of this feeling has been demonstrated by the late tax rebellions in several Kentucky and Missouri counties, where the tax offices were broken into, the books burned, and the collectors warned not to attempt the collection of any taxes under threat of lynch law.

The various States and municipalities have, on the other hand, made their tax laws more and more stringent each year, Georgia going to the extremity of disfranchising all tax resisters.

Thus the war between the government and taxpayers goes on, becoming more bitter every year. If promptness in the payment of taxes be proof of patriotism, patriotic feelings are rapidly on the wane in this country. Such is one of the fruits of bad government, heavy and fraudulent debts, and the general political disorder, peculation, and mismanagement that the Republican party has developed wherever it has held full sway.

The mention of tax resistance actions in Missouri and Kentucky refer to the railroad bonds scandals in which localities were induced to issue bonds to pay for the railroad to come to town, whereupon various well-connected folk sold off the bonds and, although the railroad never materialized, the local people were on the hook to tax themselves to pay off the bond speculators.