Young Americans for Freedom Refuse to Pay City Tax

Although American Conservatives are more likely to complain about taxes than the leftish sorts, it’s pretty rare to see them go beyond complaining and on to resisting. (Unless you count the sovereign-citizen True Constitutionalist types, but to me they seem a whole other kettle of fish.)

But here’s an example from :

YAF Refuses to Pay Tax

 — Alan Leveritt, state chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom, said the YAF would refuse to pay a city privilege tax for publishing its newspaper, Essence, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Leveritt said the annual $70 privilege tax on weekly and monthly newspaper publishers would force Essence and other small independent newspapers out of business.

He said he thought the tax also infringed on the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

“We feel it is necessary for the financially weak, independent presses, left and right, to stand together in resistance to this repressive tax or face inevitable extinction,” Leveritt said in a prepared statement.

Leveritt called the constitutionality of the privilege tax system itself highly questionable.

The YAF was pretty much a red-white-and-blue right-wing outfit by this time. They had a libertarian wing at one point, but it was largely purged in .

The Carmarthenshire Winter Assizes continued on , with a very similar threatening-letter case to that tried the day before:

 — This morning the business of the Court commenced at . John Jones, aged 22, farmer, a remarkably fine looking young man, of respectable appearance, was placed at the bar, on a charge of having sent Mr. Thomas Williams, auctioneer, of Penybank, near Llandovery [the prosecutor in a former case], an anonymous letter, signed “Rebecca,” threatening to kill and murder him. The whole panel was gone through before a jury could be obtained, owing [as in all the Rebecca cases] to the great number objected to on both sides.

The Attorney General opened the case; and said that the prisoner was charged with sending a letter, which the jury would perceive from its contents, threatened the utmost personal violence to the prosecutor. Prior to this transaction, the prisoner was in very respectable circumstances, and was possessed of some property, which he became desirous of disposing. He made arrangements for selling it to the prosecutor, at a price with which he afterwards became dissatisfied. There may be some reason to think that the price given for the land was lower than might have been obtained for it. What other transactions besides the one referred to the prisoner might have had with Rebecca, he (the Attorney-General) was unable to say. He was not anxious to show that he had any thing to do with the recent alarming disturbances, nor did he wish to insinuate that he had been connected with any of the other outrages with which the name of Rebecca was associated. He would confine himself entirely to the charge before them. The letter had been posted on , and was delivered at the house of the prosecutor’s son, who was landlord of the Fountain Inn, Llandovery. The prosecutor lived at Penybank, and the letter was opened by his son, who was authorized to open all the prosecutor’s letters. In a communication which the son afterwards had with prisoner, the latter did not deny having written the letter. The letter related entirely to business transactions, in which the prisoner at the bar had been concerned. and the threats had been made for the purpose of inducing the prosecutor to give up his purchase — to restore the estate, on the money being given up. That would be an important point in evidence. A man might naturally have a strong desire to repossess property, with which he might have parted in a moment of poverty, and to which he might have formed a long attachment; but he (the At.-G.) need not point out the great danger to society of sending letters threatening violence, when desirous, which persons could have no by law to desire, were not gratified by the party to whom the letter was addresed. The Attorney-General then read the letter, which was to the following effect:–

“Sir.— It is on my way to inform you, and every one besides whom I will visit, I have heard of yon, among others, for your slyness in many ways, but no more, you may depend. Prepare your soul, for I will mind your body. Take great care of yourself, for I will not wait to listen to your flattering, and I will not do with you as I have done with Jones, of Lansadwrn. This is the last notice you will receive. What have you done with John Jones, of Danygarn [prisoner], for his farm? I have wrote to him to pay your money back, and to write to me back, but he did not write to me. If there will be an offer to do that, mind to do it; unless [or else] you will never be the owner of the farm, and it will not be of any use to you or to your relations. Send to John Jones to pay the money back, before I visit you, or you shall not live two minutes after I shall come to see you; and you do charge 30 per cent. interest for your money. This is what you must leave off, too. Unless you will do this few things immediately, you will repent of it in a short time. My best advice is to receive the money from John Jones, and not charge so much interest — then you are safe, or you shall be shot to death, as I did at Hendy gate.” (Signed) “REBECCA.”

There were two persons of that name, continued the Attorney-General, the father and his son. Both were auctioneers, and the letter was addressed to the son’s house, where the father’s letters were usually sent; but the jury would decide upon that, from the purport of the letter which referred to business transactions had with the father only. The charge was a most severe one, and if there were any reasonable doubt that the letter was written by the prisoner, he (the Attorney-General) admitted that in no case could the jury be called upon to exercise more care and caution then on the present. There might be some evidence called upon to prove that the handwriting was not the prisoner’s. Should that be the case, they would have to balance testimony, and he (the Attorney-General) had no doubt they would return a conscientious verdict.

The prosecutor’s son was then called as evidence. He identified the handwriting of the prisoner from various business transactions had with him. He also staled that when accused of the offence, the prisoner did not deny having written the letter; but said, “It is very much like my handwriting.” Witness said, “It must be like it, when it is written by you.” To which the prisoner said, “Give it to be burned — don’t speak about it.” The prosecutor detailed the business transactions had with the prisoner, and deposed to the writing, particularly the name “John Jones,.” being the prisoner’s handwriting.

Mr. Wilson then addressed the jury in a very ingenious speech for the prisoner, especially remarking upon the uncertainty of swearing to handwriting. Even the witnesses who had been called did not venture to state that the whole letter, but merely the particular name, was in the prisoner’s handwriting. He also contended that the prisoner’s request to burn the letter was no admission of guilt. A guilty man would have most strenuously denied it. Again, if the prisoner had been very desirous of destroying the letter, he might have done so as he had it in his possession for several minutes. Mr. Wilson concluded by deprecating the practice of sending threatening letters, but entreated the jury to pause before returning a verdict, the effect of which might be to send the prisoner to long punishment.

A witness named Jenkins was then called. He said that he had once seen the prisoner write his name, and did not believe the letter to he in his handwriting.

The Attorney-General replied. He called the attention of the jury to the entire absence of evidence on behalf of the prisoner, which the exception of a witness who apparently was an entire stranger, having seen him write only once. He was not deficient in means, and might have produced his neighbours, parochial officers, and others, who were well acquainted with his handwriting.

The Learned Judge then summed up the evidence, and said the points for the consideration of the jury were — 1st, if the letter was addressed to the prosecutor; secondly, did it contain a threat; and thirdly, was it in the handwriting of the prisoner. If it was in the prisoner’s writing, then it must be concluded that he knew the nature of its contents. To ascertain that, in addition to the evidence deposing to the hand-writing, they had to take various circumstances into consideration — such as that of the letter referring to the business transactions with the prisoner. The jury then retired, and returned a verdict of “Not Guilty.”