Paying a Fine for Refusing to Kill Is Repugnant to Quakers

I’m jumping the gun in posting ’s and ’s entries, as I’ll be off the grid for a few days.

In Lillian Schlissel’s Conscience in America: A documentary history of conscientious objection in America, () is an excerpt from a letter to the Pennsylvania Assembly from that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere, and the author of which remains unknown to me.

That the infliction of fines, or other punishments, would be as ineffectual in reconciling Quakers in America, to carry arms, as they proved in prevailing upon them in England to make oath, there is no reason to doubt.

It is therefore, with much uneasiness, that I learn from the 17th clause of the militia bill, which is postponed until the next session of congress, that such citizens as are conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, are to be exempted from doing so, upon paying a fine — to pay a fine, in lieu of bearing arms, would be as repugnant to the principles of friends, as the performance of the service, from which it were to exempt them; and for reasons synonymous to those, which deter them from contributing to the support and maintenance of hireling ministers — to collect these fines, therefore, the subordinate magistracy of the country must interpose their authority, which will put it in their power (and their inclination to exercise it in general cannot be denied) to impose upon and distress the unfortunate victims of their rapacity, to a degree far beyond every benefit, which the country could derive from such a source of revenue.— It is a maxim, that the law ought not to require impossibilities; and it is the language of reason, and religion, that a man should not be forced to wrong his own conscience: and a quaker must either do the latter, or be incapable of complying with the requisites of this clause of the bill — it would be tantamount to the taxing the opinions of one class of the citizens, in exclusion of every other. To tax a man for not doing a particular service, which his conscience forbids him to do, in order to make up for that omission, is as unreasonable, as it would be to extra-tax the members of a community, who possess one kind of property, to make their contribution equivalent to that, which the public coffers receive from those who possess another kind of property.

This is another interesting attempt to explain why Quakers were unwilling to pay militia exemption fees, though it still leaves me wondering.

It also mentions the Quaker resistance to “hireling ministers” — mandatory tithes to support an official establishment church — which predated and formed the template for later Quaker war tax resistance, but which I haven’t dealt with much here.

Jeff Knaebel

Taxpatriate satyagrahi Jeff Knaebel has another manifesto posted at “I Rise to Speak — On  — In Refusal of Murder.” His advice, in a nutshell:

  • Keep this in mind: what we vote for, and what we pay for, we are responsible for. It is us.
  • The only ways to have clean hands are not to participate, or actively resist.
  • Quit tax payments, and thus quit supporting organized crime.
  • Boycott the State. Do not vote. Do not ask it for anything. Do not petition it. Give it no energy.
  • To extent possible, abstain from all interaction with the State. Try to become self employed so you are out of the paper trail corporate-State surveillance net.
  • Quit credit cards and all financial operations that are easy for the State to surveil.
  • Avoid doing business with banks to the extent possible. They are spies and bag men of the State.
  • One cannot be free so long as he uses credit cards and banks.
  • To extent possible, create a livelihood based upon work trade and barter exchange.
  • Look for a piece of land in a wholesome and supportive community and nourish yourself from a garden.
  • If there is a secessionist movement in your state or nearby, join it. Check the website of The Middlebury Institute.
  • In every way possible, become a moral sovereign and join in voluntary cooperation with like minded others.
  • Educate and promulgate the ethics, values, and truths of Liberty.
  • Read The Mad Farmers Liberation Front by Wendell Berry, a great poet. Practice resurrection.