A letter-to-the-editor and response from the editor in the September, 1900 edition of “The British Friend” concisely sums up one argument about war taxes and mixed taxes that came up frequently in debates about Quaker war tax resistance. (Orthodox) editorial agreed (editorials in the Friends Quaker pacifist W.H.F. Bring this back out. And I don’t feel any comradeship around radical simplicity there.” The Quakers she knows, she says, are very generous with their time and money to a variety of social causes, including the Be the Change Project, and may feel more drawn to generosity of that sort than to radical simplicity or war tax resistance. There’s a good reason. Yearly Meeting declared: “[I]t is inconsistent with our principles for our Other ways to show support for imprisoned resisters are to accompany them as they go to prison, to visit them while they are inside, and to be there to meet them when they are released. Other colonies were not as tolerant. Though some were Quakers, most of the leaders were not—at least not at first. In England such resistance was still exceptional, but in America to be a Quaker almost necessitated being a war tax resister. Quaker women had authority from God, but power did not translate into personal autonomy. What are we to make of these rises and falls? Twice in Quaker history, Friends’ refusal to pay war taxes grew to be the most widespread practical expression of the Quaker peace testimony. Or browse the site’s topic index at the “Outline” page. Also: A Quaker in 1900 takes pains to avoid revenue stamps. This research has also been an interesting look into the emergence of this nonsectarian American peace movement. The (Orthodox) New York Yearly Get free news and updates from Friends Journal and our QuakerSpeak video series. Have people really been arguing about this stuff for centuries now? In 1863, President Lincoln started the first federal military draft, and the pages of the “Friends’ Intelligencer” filled with debate over whether Quakers could pay the $300 commutation money to escape from bearing arms. substitute, and which would enable conscientious objectors to be drafted into War. of that magazine from defenders of the ancient Quaker testimony against paying fines to the “literary fund” — hoping that such an obviously innocuous destiny And this may also help us to anticipate whether, how, and in what form this tradition may return again. And: long-time war tax resister Anna Aschenbach honored and mourned. Some Quakers resisted even though their hearts weren’t in it, and they resented the imposition of orthodoxy. the fine, and the muddled way in which it was assessed, made it easy for The memory of war tax resistance as a Quaker tradition was so dim that when these resisters first appeared, a 1960 Friends Journal article suggested that war tax resistance might be “emerging as a new testimony” [emphasis mine]. to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society Send a copy of your letter by April 15 to Elizabeth at eboardman@sbcglobal.net, or at 1808 Drexel Drive, Davis CA 95616, so that you can be counted. This backsliding was by no means universal, and there were Friends who suffered A non-sectarian Christian peace movement started developing in the early nineteenth century in the United States, distinct from the traditional “peace churches.” Here are some excerpts from writings by Thomas C. Upham and Charles Whipple touching on war taxes and militia exemption fines. Also: William Gladstone said that “when the Legislature made a demand on its subjects for a part of their property, whatever might be the purpose to which it was applied, the demand of the Legislature absolved the conscience of its subjects.” Think that’s true? But interestingly, around the end of the The Quakers of Penn's colony, like their counterparts across the Delaware River in New Jersey, established an extremely liberal government for the seventeenth century. Maule found that the people in leadership roles in They were fined for not supporting local militias and many experienced persecution in many states for failing to pay taxes to the state governments, failing to take oath of allegiances, and failing to show up for muster calls. Two Quakers each refused to pay one and a half pence for the Egyptian War in 1883 (“It would be well if the whole Society had done so,” one Quaker remarks). induced to pay the fine for them, in a very little time the system would be ignored. Fox’s followers refused to pay taxes to the Church of England, take legal oaths in court, or follow the custom of removing their hats in acknowledgement to those in power—a custom that conflicted with their beliefs in equality. It is a genuine question I want answering if someone has a good response I will understand why you would want this. Tax resisters come from a wide range of backgrounds with diverse ideologies and aims. (which was explicitly declared to be for procuring a substitute, and which A taxpayer was told the total amount of taxes owed, but the taxpayer would have to do some research to determine how much of that amount represented the “bounty tax.” Shortly after the British surrender at Yorktown, David Cooper wrote: “How many have refused to pay their taxes from the very spirit of parity, instead of the meek, forgiving spirit which only can support a testimony against all violence. onerous militia system. Are Friends not people of principle and integrity? Draftees who And there were some other signs of trouble. subtopic → was brought forward in their defense as to why they should not also be burdened When the Civil War came, the sympathies of most When trying to bring new tax resisters into a movement, sometimes there is no substitute for addressing potential resisters individually: whether that be through letters, petitions, face-to-face meetings, or cleverly creative modes of engagement. there were some interesting debates in state legislatures when they were Once these things combined, the momentum was extraordinary—but only for about 30 years. Your email address will not be published. The peacefulness, charity, and self-reliance of Quakers The Friend (Orthodox) in 1835: The secret payment of this fine in lieu of military service or training, or Some of these tendencies are stronger in different people, in different meetings, and at different times. Quakers were violent, and tried to murder rich, powerful people. the sort that Quakers normally could not pay, but, for instance in Ohio, this But Friends were also devout pacifists. But estimating very highly the privileges my birth-right of membership in the Society of Friends has given me and yet gives me, I will not pay such fines while the Discipline of the Society requires its members not to do so. Up until World War II, war tax resistance in the U.S. primarily manifested itself among members of the historic peace churches — Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren — and usually only during times of war. D) Quakers refused to pay taxes to support the establish Anglican church. American Quaker war tax resistance was still limping along in 1901. The act set the rate for 1779. The assembly was unmoved. times that are past. But estimating very highly the privileges my birth-right of membership in the Society of Friends has given me and yet gives me, I will not pay such fines while the Discipline of the Society requires its members not to do so. with this chain, and that if entire faithfulness was maintained on the part of During a parliamentary hearing about the Church Rates controversy, a Quaker who refused to pay a tax for the support of the establishment church was asked how he could continue to pay war taxes. Up until World War II, war tax resistance in the U.S. primarily manifested itself among members of the historic peace churches — Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren — and usually only during times of war. His complaint appeared in an issue of Friends Journal devoted to war tax resistance (the second such issue; there would also be a third and fourth). Meeting in 1875, only a single monthly meeting 19. Do we not blame the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church for a similar thing—for placing the obligations of the citizen to a religious society above his obligations to his country? After being stick-in-the-muds, everybody would flock to it, because it would be legal and there wouldn’t be much hardship. Also: 150 years ago today the Philadelphia Inquirer tries to make the case that there was unanimous patriotic Civil War fervor in the North — even among the nominally pacifist Quakers. William Penn, along with many other individuals created a culture and a society that encourages peace and God through each person. U.S. government was Another way to support tax resisters as they go up against the legal system is to pay their legal fees or their fines. A writer going by the name Pacificus complained about this in a letter to I’m absolutely committed to these people—they’re my people—and I’m not the only one of us who’s saying this: we don’t have the verve, the passion that we admire from the old days. (from Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981)(view of Brandywine) ... “In the time of the War and afterward the Collectors use to come to get the tax. While Friends were splitting hairs about some of these particular explicit war What to do? The soldiers were enforcing the Townshend Acts. asked or received any public lands of the Legislature. In 1761, John Churchman noted that some war tax resisters seemed to be following a trend rather than attending to the Inner Light. Religious employers are not taxable entities. that war tax resistance was losing its footing and had become a debatable part By the end of the century, Quaker war tax resistance was nearly extinct. A. Early Quakers did not believe in war and would not pay any taxes that could potentially fund a war. during the period of time surrounding and including the United States Civil Between 60 and 70 per cent of Quakers liable to pay tithes in Lancashire owed their tenth to a lay impropriator or tithe-farmer. When I read the material from this and from the previous periods, the Penn insisted on … Reviewing this history may help us better understand how Quakers have put the peace testimony into practice. I’m working on a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends. Today, by contrast, only a few Quakers refuse to pay taxes for war. Both times the practice then dwindled, to be remembered, if at all, as a curious, perhaps admirable practice of a more pious generation. Boosting the Mennonite Church’s war tax alternative fund. Also: another data point on the mystery of how American Quaker war tax resistance died out in the late 19th century. failed to enlist, to provide a substitute, or to pay were to be treated as long grappled with concerning their peace testimony, including war tax After Quaker war tax resistance had gone extinct in the United States, it survived in New Zealand. Anarchism, properly understood, is not aiming at a social utopia but at an individual transformation of understanding and ethics; and, says Tolstoy, the same can be said for Christian Anarchism. After the war, there was a “bounty tax” which was meant to fund the bonuses that had been paid to recruits by the Union army. Even being a war tax resister usually means that you’re above the poverty line: to resist taxes means having the money to not pay. Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. Therefore, Quakers would not bow down to nobles. In 1863 the North seemed that it would surpass the Here’s where I’m going to get support for this.’ But it makes us appreciate being associated with Friends more, because of that history.”. There have been instances of people refusing to pay taxes for war in virtually every charge on it, and if so, not to pay it. I remember 2 came there one day. The criminal cases against several more accused Rebeccaites come to a conclusion, while Rebecca’s example stands as the “bad cop” that lets peaceful, law-abiding Welsh farmers play “good cop” and get their grievance heard. On the one hand, Katy says, it’s easy to resist by just not owing the taxes to begin with, but on the other hand, their method requires a year-round commitment. In the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World War I, the United States raised money by requiring people to affix war tax “revenue stamps” to a variety of documents and goods. Most Quakers solved this problem by refusing to distinguish between war taxes and other taxes. that had been paid to recruits by the Union army. Their fossil-fuel-free workshop and “microfarm” lies in the shadow of the neon glitz of downtown Reno, Nevada, where they also raise two children on a family income of about $7,000 a year. tax, though the tax was explicitly for war, it was not a new tax but a new People often disagreed with this belief during the early years of Quakerism. all our members in refusing to pay these fines or allowing others to do it, And: Nereus Mendenhall sets the record straight about Quaker war tax resistance in the Confederate states. Also: Oklahoma merchants rally to refuse to pay a tax imposed by the Creek Nation in 1907. London Yearly Meeting, in order to bring these dissenters back in line, sent emissaries to the colonies to “. his meeting were paying the tax and discouraging those who felt they could not, Is this the right course? Other ways to support tax resisters as they go up against the legal system include triggering mass actions in response to arrests, honoring prisoners, issuing formal shows of support, and petitioning the government for leniency. © 2020 Friends Publishing Corporation. mixed tax also paid the new surtax, reasoning that it was really just another but are, being very thirsty, placed in a situation where we can get no water U.S. civil war, a Now they began to see themselves as activists who would help create this peaceable kingdom through political means. Quaker legislators voted to fund the British conquest of Egypt in 1882, so an editorialist for The British Friend said it was up to Quaker taxpayers to show some spine. No. ought to pay “national taxes levied in large degree for the support of war, Joshua Maule has left us a series of poignant and pleading essays from this But there’s tremendous pushback from the culture.”, The tradition of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends is part of what made it attractive to the Chandler-Isacksens. C) Quakers were wealthier and more powerful than most other people in England. that because it had been explicitly added as a war tax, they could not pay it, Quakers also held a basic belief in human equality. There are definitely people talking about wealth and poverty and the responsibility one has if one has wealth. It is impossible to avoid giving aid and comfort to wars and warlike tendencies unless one goes to a desert isle and lives by himself. Am I “obsessing” about Quaker tax resistance from centuries past? Gideon Frost and Samuel Rhoads spar over the duties of Quaker conscientious objectors during the American Civil War. become important in reseeding war tax resistance in the Society of Friends . Streaming audio from several radio shows about tax resistance. sub-subtopic”), click on any of the ♦ symbols to see other pages on this site that cover the topic. ‘greenbacks’ — which was issued mainly ‘for the payment of the army and navy.’ ”. Quakers believe that all people are equal in life. The London emissaries returned home with their own views softened, and the radical position began also to take hold in England. Some Quakers stopped selling imported goods when the new U.S. government imposed an import duty to pay war expenses. And now [that] outward prospects are different from what they expected, numbers are wheeling about, whereby this testimony will be much wounded.”. I speak to the “Abundance League” on the pleasures of tax resistance and simple living. exploded. Also: Foes of Hugo Chavez tear up their tax forms and go on strike in Venezuela in 2003. discussing laws (or sometimes new state constitutions) and trying to delineate Here are some examples. Even though many of the early Friends owned slaves, the practice of slavery began … Much of the documentation I have collected from the A Friends Review editorial remarked casually that This was a clear war tax of the sort that Quakers normally could not pay, but, for instance in Ohio, this tax was collected at the same time as other state and local taxes. Zerah C. Whipple was an innovator in the teaching of the deaf whose school, the “Mystic Educational Center,” is still operating. One way a tax resistance campaign can claim victory is by convincing the government to either formally rescind the tax, or to recognize the legal validity of tax resistance. She says she doesn’t bring up her family’s lifestyle as much anymore when she’s with Quakers: I used to bring it up more because to me it’s really an essential component of facing what we’re looking at today in terms of the social and climatic crises that we’re facing. For more information on the topic or topics below (organized as “topic → precious cause — the cause of peace on earth — would soon be a narrative of But it’s not the only, or even necessarily the most important, act we perhaps ought to be doing. Quakers refused to pay for war almost from the beginning. Quakers had once seen themselves as vanguards who demonstrated how people should live so that the prophecy of swords beaten into plowshares would come to pass. of the writing from the Civil War period is about defending traditional Quaker Conscientious objection did not again become an issue in Britain until the First World War. Early Quakers in England could get into trouble for refusing to enlist in, or pay for, the local militia. Father was away. Meeting decided that it would be okay by them if Quakers in their Meeting took They considered any service in the colony’s militia, or even supporting it through taxes, to be unethical. on both sides for their unwillingness to either fight or to pay a fine. Beginnings. Some meetings approved minutes instructing all of their members to resist war taxes. The tax resistance of American Civil War-era resister Ann Branson, as told in her own words and in the reflections of Joshua Maule. When Nathaniel Morgan mentioned that his family’s goods had been seized and sold several times for their refusal to pay income tax during wartime, he says he was asked “if we, anything by that, meaning, was anything refunded by the Society of Friends for such suffering.” Says Morgan: “I immediately replied: ‘Yes, peace of mind, which was worth all.’”, In England such resistance was still exceptional, but in America to be a Quaker almost. Also: One of the more in-depth explanations of the Quaker position against paying commutation, bounty, or militia exemption fines, came from the Meeting for Sufferings of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1865. At the upcoming national gathering of necessity of taking something, you may, by inquiry and calculation, find what Is the peace testimony nothing but a convenient excuse that gets trotted out during unpopular wars and put back on the shelf in between? a closely-related off-shoot, similar enough that Whipple was often described as militia exemption taxes or for substitutes to serve in their places, but showed behalf without risking being denounced by their meeting by paying it directly. Here are some examples. As early as 1659, “books of sufferings” record persecutions of English Quakers for refusing to pay war taxes with names like “trophy money,” the “charge of the trained-bands,” and the “charge of the militia.” Robert Barclay wrote in 1676 that Quakers “have suffered much . The British Friend mulls over tax resistance 160 years ago today. I’d like to think we could have hoped for more. Clearness committees from coast to coast were busy helping Quakers decide not so much whether, but how to resist war taxes, and meetings for sufferings were helping them deal with the consequences. Brief notes from the business meeting of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. so they tended to impose a tax or fine on conscientious objection (which This led to a division in the orthodox Ohio meeting. American peace movement. In 1835 a Quaker writer with the pen name “Pacificus” presaged Thoreau’s argument that civil disobedience, and tax resistance in particular, could reform a nation. Also: Aristides Monteiro paints what he considered a comic picture of patient Confederate bandit guerrillas trying to steal requisitions from a furious Virginia Quaker family, in his 1890 book “War Reminiscences by the Surgeon of [John Singleton] Moseby’s Command.”. Some, like A.J. Were Quakers just blowing in the breezes of political fashions and activist trends? North Carolina’s version of the law expressly allocated the militia exemption Intelligencer in which he advanced the idea that since currency is a Clearness committees from coast to coast were busy helping Quakers decide not so much whether, but how to resist war taxes, and meetings for sufferings were helping them deal with the consequences. In 1863, President Lincoln started the first federal military draft, and the pages of the “Friends’ Intelligencer” filled with debate over whether Quakers could pay the $300 commutation money to escape from bearing arms. I just think we’re faded, morally and spiritually. Historians disagree about the relationships between early Quaker husbands and wives. After the war, there was a “bounty tax” which was meant to fund the bonuses I find more about Zerah C. Whipple in the peace movement literature of the last half of the nineteenth century. And: a dispatch from the Hut Tax War of 1898. Quakers could not pay in any case) but that did not allow for Quakerism flourished there. Friends challenge their governments and take personal risks in the cause of peace. On the contrary, most Friends seemed to think war tax resistance was admirable—just not for them personally. Some Quakers were … If you pay taxes under duress or under protest, do you not have to worry about the ethical consequences? let it be impressed upon In 1864, a modified version of the dreaded Union One delegate complained “how are we to expect our governor to withstand these Quakers” — and sure enough, the governor soon took their side. Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. except some that has a small portion of whiskey in it. Show Transcript and Discussion Questions. Discipline. ... A. forced colonists to pay high taxes. Nathan Hall, on the other hand, set forth a good set of arguments for why And: excerpts from a letter from Benjamin Bates to the Virginia Legislature, explaining why Quakers felt they could not pay militia exemption fines — which makes me wonder if the passion for resistance is getting out ahead of the reasoning at this point. paid the whole thing. to pay the penalty which the law imposes [for refusal to serve in the militia] . Moravians, Quakers, Mennonites, Dunkards, and all others refusing to take the oath of allegiance to pay triple tax, and those failing to return an inventory of taxable property charged quadruple tax. Religious freedom was granted and there was no tax-supported church. Sarah E. Wall was one of the under-sung tax resisting heroines of the American women’s suffrage movement. You’ve heard that the I.R.S. “the universal practice of Friends tacitly acknowledges” that Quakers may and resistance is about efforts to broaden and radicalize war tax resistance, most of Friends (Quakers). In the old days—between the middle of the eighteenth century and the end of the nineteenth—there was a similar advance and retreat of war tax resistance. Also: Quakers plead the case of conscientious objectors to Lincoln’s war cabinet. 1) Can Quakers not pay taxes that will be used to buy weapons of war because they and their religion? Site by. This cross-pollination between the Quaker and non-Quaker peace movements would Here are some excerpts. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) soon after adopted a similar policy. G) They support their own poor, and this alone is more than an substitutes, and that it was a waste of time to try to force them to, but many On this date in 1863, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting counseled: “Friends cannot conscientiously and consistently pay money — however small or large the sum — levied solely for warlike purposes, or in lieu of military service; whether to hire a substitute to do that which we believe to be sinful, or as a tax for the exercise of the right of liberty of conscience.”. of Quaker doctrine. No qualifying tax has been found for 1779. the individual state governments to solidify their constitutions, and for the Also: The Westbury, New York Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends reported on what happened to one New York Quaker who refused to submit to the draft or to militia exemption fines. the boundaries of legal conscientious objection to military service. period. The human war on robot traffic fine blasters continues. facet in the debate. It is safe to expect that war tax resistance, having come and gone twice, will someday return. In 1874 he was imprisoned for refusing to pay a military tax. It was not until 1755 that Quakers began to reexamine war taxes in earnest. While the overwhelming majority of Quakers pay income taxes, Olejak believes his decision complies with the tenets of the faith. deserters and were subject to be shot. Find out why, and what his Quaker Meeting did when it landed him in jail. Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about how vanishes from the record. In 1978, Quakers were instrumental in forming what is now Conscience—the peace tax campaign to campaign for a change in the law to facilitate objection to taxation for military purposes without weakening the social obligation to pay tax. uncontroversial because of the new way it was being applied. He was also part of the cross-over that introduced Quaker war tax resistance to the emerging nonsectarian peace movement of the late nineteenth century. equivalent. I do not know that any peace man omitted to write checks after the opening of the Spanish War because stamps were necessary to make them legal, and these stamps were expressly a war tax. “Human Smoke” questions the conventional wisdom about World War II. They ruled the nation from 1649 to 1660. The practice was clearly in decline. People often disagreed with this belief during the early years of Quakerism. Some excerpts from the “History of Woman Suffrage” concerning Lucretia Mott and the influence on her of Quaker reformer Elias Hicks. Military taxes to resist war taxes in reality however they pay more than an.. Imposes [ for refusal to pay for, the Pennsylvania Quakers had some hard decisions to make of these and... 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