Here are a few more data points from the tax resistance campaign by insurgent white supremacists, led by the shadow government of John McEnery, against the carpetbagger government of William Pitt Kellogg in post-Civil War Louisiana in .
From The Ouachita Telegraph, :
The New York World advises our people in the following words:
This is the first instance in the history of our thirty-seven State Governments in which a governor has been constrained by his fears and necessities, to issue a menacing proclamation requiring the payment of taxes. It betokens an already empty treasury and no means to fill it. Kellogg has been but little more than two months in his bogus governorship, and in spite of the ready advance of their taxes by his few adherents he is constrained by his distresses and apprehensions to flourish and crack his lash over the shoulders of the tax-payers. By fulminating this unexampled proclamation he advertises his weakness and fears. He can borrow no money, for his government is so notoriously illegal that no lender would expect payment. If he should undertake to sell property for taxes, there would be no buyers, because an illegal Government could not give a valid title. Hence he is reduced to the necessity of resorting to bluster and threats. Having already got all he can collect from the few property holders among his own partisans, he tries to intimidate the weak-minded of his opponents, and scare them into furnishing the money without which his usurpation must soon collapse and perish. His proclamation is like a signal gun at sea fired by a pirate ship that is about to be on gulfed in the waves.
The advantages of the people of Louisiana for escaping the payment of taxes to support this usurpation are great and manifest. Its opponents comprise five sixths of the property holders of the State. They alone possess the means of buying property offered to be sold for taxes, and their hostility to Kellogg and his crew will prevent them from ever bidding a dollar on such property. No man will bid on that of his neighbor, and he feels assured that in return no neighbor will bid on his. As for buyers out of the State, they would be repelled by the inability of the Kellogg Government to give a legal title, and by the indignant hostility of every neighborhood against such mercenary interloping. If the State governments could support themselves, like the Federal Government, by indirect taxation, this form of resistance would not be easy. When duties are laid on imported goods, or an excise on whisky and tobacco, every purchaser pays the tax, and the people can protect themselves only by refusing to consume the taxed articles, as our patriot forefathers did in the Revolution. But happily this mode of taxation does not prevail in our State Governments. State taxes are direct; they are laid on property, not on consumption; they are paid immediately into the hands of the collector, not mixed up with the prices of commodities. There is no other penalty for non-payment than the distraint and sale of property, and property cannot be sold when there are no buyers. Kellogg’s supporters are chiefly the negroes who pay no taxes themselves, and are too poor to purchase the property of their white neighbors even if they could get the fee simple and a good title by paying one year’s taxes.
It is obvious that the Kellogg Government must come to an early end if the united property-holders of Louisiana passively withhold the supplies, and keep scornfully away from all auction sales advertised by Kellogg’s collectors.
Resistance to Taxation by the Kellogg Government.
Letter of Gov. M’Enery.
State of Louisiana, Executive Office,
Dear Sir — I respectfully suggest that, with as little delay as possible, there be called in your parish a mass meeting of citizens to perfect a complete and thorough organization, with a view to resistance of collection of taxes by the Kellogg Government.
I will remain at my post at the Capitol and exercise, so far as practicable, the powers and functions of my office, and I appeal to the people of the State to rally to my support, and give me effective aid in my efforts to uphold their rights and liberties.
It is impossible that the Kellogg usurpation can continue beyond the meeting of Congress in , and if our liberties are worth anything at all they are worth a struggle against tyranny rand usurpation from now until Congress shall definitely act in our case.
Let there be unanimity among the tax-payers of Louistana, and the foul usurpation now headed by Wm. Pitt Kellogg will be blasted, and in due time Louisiana will be blest with the government of her choice.
Governor of Louisiana.
Sustaining the Kellogg Fraud.
From the Union Record we have the following manly counsel:
While there is no earthly means by which we can, at the present, get rid of the Kellogg usurpation, we can refuse to give it any support. We can refuse to contribute anything toward it in the way of taxes. It cannot live without bur money — indeed it lives for our money. Withhold that from it, and it will soon come to grief. We notice that the movements of the tax resistance association in New Orleans has already alarmed the chief conspirator. He gives vent to his uneasiness through what is called a proclamation warning the people against refusing to pay taxes. We are not surprised at this. How natural it is for the wolf when he sees his prey slipping from his paw, to give vent to his disappointed feelings by a savage howl! So it is with Kellogg, the slightest prospect of loosing his prey, brings from his ravenous lips a threatening howl. Let our people take no notice of his threats, but, in every parish in the State, meet in counsel; form into associations, act in concert — as one man, and resolve not to pay one cent of tribute to the vile usurpers. If we are united we can accomplish good. We cannot individually. Unless the people will come together, and agree to act In concert, there will be no alternative but to meet the demands of the Kellogg tax collectors, and let the government of our choice dissolve into nothingness. Which we cannot afford to do, if, for no other reason, because all hope of having our rights secured by Congress is not entirely gone. It is true Congress adjourned leaving us in the hands of Grant, but it did not recognize the Kellogg government. Since the adjournment of Congress, the Senate has been in extra session and it still refuses to recognize either the Kellogg or Fusion government, by not admitting either Pinchback or McMillen to a seat in the Senate, but have expressly deferred the matter till the regular session in . Now if we permit the Fusion government to dissolve, and give in our voluntary adhesion to the Kellogg usurpation how can we hope to be heard in Congress at its regular session? So every consideration of self-respect, manhood, patriotism and interest demand that we give no support to the Kollogg usurpation, only as enforced at the point of the bayonet!
The U.S. Senate never did decide which of the rival Louisiana Senators (William McMillen or P.B.S. Pinchback) ought to take Governor Kellogg’s vacant seat and join them. Kellogg’s governorship lasted until , by which time the white supremacist Democrats, who had switched from tax resistance to terrorism, succeeded in regaining political control in the state.
The next piece comes from The Morning Star and Catholic Messenger, . Oddly, it does not mention the Kellogg/McEnery feud, but comes around to recommending tax resistance on the grounds that the present tax system is unconstitutional in the way that it uses “license” fees to enact what is essentially a poll tax on businesses, whereas the constitution says that any such taxation should be proportional to business income:
The above very brief statement of the violations of constitutional principles in the manner of levying taxes in this State, suffices we think, to show that the tax-resisters are justifiable. We consider it to be the right and duty of all good citizens, to refuse to pay an unjust, oppressive, exhorbitant, or unconstitutional tax, or system of taxation. This is their duty to themselves, to their country, and to republican institutions.
But, it may be said that all resistance is vain, that the resisters will be ultimately overcome, to their great loss, etc. Considering the utter disregard of right and conscience the powers that be have exhibited, the chances are in favor of those who predict that they will do evil. Still, we insist that resistance to wrong will ultimately produce good results. The mere fact of resistance will do good. The obstacles opposed to wrong, the difficulties it will be compelled to contend with, will diminish its confidence in itself, and make it hesitate or restrict itself to narrower limits. If its way is made easy it would be encouraged it and perhaps hereafter do worse. Then, the credit of the wrong-doer will be impaired, his resources diminished, and his ability to do harm be greatly crippled.
True, we have little to hope from the Legislature and Supreme Court of the State. True, though our State Constitution bristles with articles and clauses guaranteeing equal rights, the Supreme Court will refuse to enforce these in favor of the tax-paying portion of the people. Nevertheless, there is a gleam of hope from another quarter. There is a higher break in the clouds of oppression that have hung over our political skies. In their ardent zeal to emancipate and elevate the black man, the Northern States have added brand new articles to the Federal Constitution; and it turns out that these very articles may be turned against the wrongs, our Barbarian State Government would fain inflict on the white man. These new articles impose principles of equality upon the State Governments, and thereby insure the right of appeal from the Supreme Court of the State to the Supreme Court of the United States, in all eases in which this equality is infringed. The famous fourteenth amendment particularly has this effect. It says: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within in its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws.” Of course this applies when the State law itself denies this equal protection or infringes the principles of justice and equality universally recognised in civilized countries. If the State were to impose its taxes on negroes only, or at a higher rate than on white men, who can doubt that the Supreme Court of the United States would decide such inequality to be a violation of the fourteenth amendment. If this is clear then it is also clear they must decide that laws which tax a tailor and exempt a milliner — tax butchers and exempt bakers — tax merchant-tailors more than lawyers, notaries more than retail merchants, and retail merchants more than butchers or bakers and so forth, are, on the same principle, contrary to this article of the Constitution of the United States. Let the tax resisters therefore, never surrender, till they awake the whole people, the poor as well as the rich, in the future as well as to day, to a consciousness of the danger and injustice of such precedents and of such arbitrary modes of taxation. Public sentiment will have its effect in shaming the judiciary, and causing them to retract their sanction of such iniquities and absurdities. Besides, it is not unreasonable to expect that the Supreme Court of the United States will enforce the fourteenth Amendment according to its true spirit and meaning, and then we will be disenthralled.
From The Ouachita Telegraph, :
We invite attention to the proceedings of the meeting held on . The next meeting will be held on for the purpose of organizing the tax-resisters permanently. Meanwhile, provisional officers have been announced who will hasten on the work of organization. The people may rely upon it, that in Ouachita, and in every other parish in the State, there will be organizations to resist the payment of taxes to Kellogg. Ways and means will not be wanting to block the game of that model ruler.
The Shreveport Bar.
It is a pleasure to us to point our brethren of the legal fraternity all over the State to the action taken by nearly all the prominent members of the Shreveport Bar, respecting litigation in the courts over the payment of taxes to the Kellogg government. It will be seen by reference to the proceedings published on our first page, that a number of the leading lawyers of Shreveport are pledged to attend gratuitously to the defense in all tax suits brought by the Kellogg officials of Caddo parish. It will also be seen that a lawyer can, if he will, make himself, as well as any other citizen van, a party in opposition to political frauds, accomplished though they be, and can array himself in an attitude of professional hostility to an usurping power.
We commend, most warmly, the decided action of the Shreveport lawyers to the lawyers of Monroe who were actively engaged in the support of the Fusion cause, and especially to those who wanted to condemn every one who would not rush frantically to the support of Horace Greeley and of a combination in this State of all the political elements opposed to Grant and Radicalism. They led the advance then, and we now call upon them as leaders to stand like men in their chosen positions.
At a meeting of the tax-payers of Ouachita parish to take into consideration and to perfect an organization for the resistance of the payment of taxes to the illegal and usurping government known as the Kellogg government, it was moved and seconded that D. Faulk take the chair and D.C. Brown act as Secretary.
The meeting being called to order, it was moved, seconded, and carried that the Chair appoint a committee of five to draft resolutions to perfect said organization; whereupon the Chair appointed the following committee: Col. R. Richardson, Smith W. Bennett, Capt. G.W. McCranie, Fred Cann, and A.A. Lacy.
The committee submitted the following report, which was unanimously adopted:
Your committee, appointed to consider and report a plan for resisting on the part of the people of the Parish of Ouachita the payment of taxes to the Kellogg government, respectfully report that they have had the subject under consideration, and beg leave to report—
That your committee is not in doubt of the illegality, from the beginning, of the said Kellogg government, and that, whenever its claims to our support are legally tested, opposition thereto will be affirmed as right and just. Our duty as citizens and individuals, therefore, demand of us the use of all legal and constitutional means to defeat the great outrage by which the people of Ouachita and the State have been defrauded of their rights; and your committee, believe that one of the rights left to them, and necessary to be exercised to show that the people are not untrue to themselves, their ancestry, or the cause of self-government, is the resistance of payment of taxes to the usurping government established by the affidavits of W.P. Kellogg and the illegal orders of Judge Durell. For the purpose of making more effectual this recommendation, your committee have considered it wise and just to suggest the organization of a Tax-resisting Association, composed of all the tax-payers of the parish opposed to the payment of taxes to the Kellogg government, which association shall organize permanently to resist the payment of such taxes, with such officers as will carry on the object contemplated by this meeting. It is further recommended that a public meeting for the purpose of organizing the Association, permanently, be held on , and that, meanwhile, the chairman of this meeting appoint provisional officers, consisting of a President, three Vice Presidents, a Treasurer and Secretary, who shall proceed to take charge of and prosecute diligently the duties of such offices for the purpose of organizing the people into an association to resist the payment of taxes to the Kellogg government, and to this end shall notify the people of the parish to hold primary meetings expressive of their views and to appoint delegates to the parish meeting and of the day selected for the public meeting above recommended, and shall make such collections of funds as may be deemed necessary to defray the expenses of a permanent organization. It is further recommended that the Provisional President caused to be prepared and circulated throughout the parish, for signatures, an agreement to be signed by all such tax-payers as will join and adhere to the contemplated Tax-resisting Association and will bear their share of the burthen in the effort to restore to Louisiana a government chosen by her own people.
Very respectfully submitted,
R. Richardson, Chairman.
The chairman appointed the following officers: Col. R. Richardson, Provisional President; S.D. McEnery, Eli Noble, Robert J. Wilson, Vice Presidents; G.W. McFee, Treasurer and Secretary.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
D. Faulk, President.
D.C. Brown, Secretary.
And, from The Daily Phoenix of Colombia, South Carolina, of :
In the Superior District Court, on , in the case of the State vs. Edward Booth, now pending, to compel defendant to pay his license tax, the court adjudged that Mr. Booth had violated an order of the court, for which Judge Hawkins sentenced him to be confined in the parish prison for twenty-four hours and to pay a fine of twenty dollars.
From the present attitude of many of the citizens of our city to the State Government, the case naturally excited the profoundest interest, and the decree of the court in fining Mr. Booth and sending him to prison, naturally created a widespread sympathy. According to instructions, Mr. Booth was imprisoned on , for twenty-four hours.
On it was agreed among his immediate personal friends, the members of the tax resisting association, and their sympathizers, to make a grand demonstration, at the hour of his release, and escort him to his place of business, to show their sympathies, and in what approbation he was held for having become the object of an oppression, in the defence of his personal rights.
Before the hour of his release, a large concourse of people assembled before the doors of the prison, to hail the deliverance of the prisoner, and the anteroom was thronged with friends anxious to proffer the hand of sympathy and condolence. Presently, at , Captain Freneaux approached Mr. Booth and told him that he was free. Taking the arm of Mr. E.J. Ellis, Mr. Booth filed out of the room and stepped into a carriage in waiting, amid rousing cheers and a stirring air from the band. The carriage led off, followed by the band and the large concourse of people, who gradually fell into an orderly line of twos, to the number of about 400.
On the way, the marching assembly gave repeated and loud cheers, which were vociferous on beholding an effigy at the corner of Camp and Gravier streets, hung to a telegraph pole. All exclaimed, “That’s Kellogg! That’s Kellogg!” and the cheers were renewed. From thence the effigy was taken to the corner of Magazine and Gravier, and again strung up, this time to a lamp-post. Here a large crowd gathered, when some one applied a match to the effigy, and it was in a short time entirely destroyed.
The carriage containing Mr. Booth drove to the door of his place of business, and, on alighting from the vehicle, the crowd called loudly upon him for an address, to which he gave heed by mounting a box and motioning for silence. He thanked the assembly for the grand demonstration which they had made on the event of his release, but regarded the fervor rather to the merits of the principles which were involved, than a feeling appertaining to his case individually. He denounced the steps taken against him as a move showing that the most sacred rights of the people were jeopardized, and that the present administration was arrayed against the liberty of the people; that they had been outraged, and that it now devolved upon them to resist, by every legitimate means, the advances of this oppression. He cited to them the fact that their cause was now before the congress of the people — the nation itself — and not that body termed a Congress which assemble at Washington. The people of this country would eventually cry against the wrongs now being perpetrated, and they would be adjusted. He exhorted them to remember that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and that to lie supinely dormant was to see every vestige of a freeman’s boon swept from them. Mr. Booth closed his remarks by saying: “This is a State where men know their own rights, and, knowing them, dare defend them.”
Colonel Smith took the stand, and, in the name of Mr. Booth, requested that the crowd now retire, at the same time urging them to be prepared and nerved to their work, and if occasion demand, let the halter be applied to him who would be the despoiler of a people’s liberty. — New Orleans Times.