The government was demanding that these church run organizations provide a product to … part of the mix and was therefore unexceptional. averted looks of the considerate of all classes, it would require stout hands They never give offence to others, and history can furnish no discussing laws (or sometimes new state constitutions) and trying to delineate Quaker churches? Nathan Hall, on the other hand, set forth a good set of arguments for why And: a dispatch from the Hut Tax War of 1898. But in their meeting, as in most others, war tax resistance is mostly a historical memory: “I don’t feel like in our meeting there’s a ‘this is what we do’ sense about it at all. 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? Levied Friends believed this price was worth paying. After Quaker war tax resistance had gone extinct in the United States, it survived in New Zealand. This again brought up the difficult 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. It was not until 1755 that Quakers began to reexamine war taxes in earnest. In a pamphlet titled “Views of the Society of Friends in Relation to Civil Government” (1840), the New England Yearly Meeting set down its idea of the sort of relationship a Christian ought to have with Cæsar, particularly regarding war and war taxes. Friends wouldn't pay, so they took cows, and anything they pleased. But as governments changed how they raised money for war, Quaker discipline failed to keep up. South in cruelty when a draft law was enacted that would enable draftees to get Also: Jonathan Harris on the Quaker conscientious objectors taxed by the Confederacy. British Quakers debated whether this income tax increase was a “war tax” that they should refuse to voluntarily pay. A profile of Nashua-area war tax resisters Francine Wall and Ruth McKay. vanishes from the record. and humane purposes.”. 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. When the government levied an 8½% war surtax atop its regular general Once these things combined, the momentum was extraordinary—but only for about 30 years. Religious freedom was granted and there was no tax-supported church. And there were some other signs of trouble. cannon’s mouth. with this chain, and that if entire faithfulness was maintained on the part of 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). substitute, and which would enable conscientious objectors to be drafted into This led to a division in the orthodox Ohio meeting. Is this the right course? Gideon Frost and Samuel Rhoads spar over the duties of Quaker conscientious objectors during the American Civil War. The effects of war and the war machine in terms of racism and economic violence, these things aren’t felt by white, middle-class Americans in general, including Quakers, and so the intensity of the conviction is not as central. A history of a sometimes-forgotten Quaker witness. Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about how Another way to support tax resisters as they go up against the legal system is to pay their legal fees or their fines. tax, though the tax was explicitly for war, it was not a new tax but a new That year, the Quaker-dominated Pennsylvania Assembly voted to fund a military defense against French allies in the Seven Years’ War. Therefore, Quakers would not bow down to nobles. Friends might be “dealt with as disorderly walkers” or disowned by their meetings for such evasions. our known principles and practice respecting the payment of taxes for the support of civil government.” But the radical war tax resistance position, and the sincerity of those who held it, proved influential. through distraint). Yet, Quakers continued to face hostility for refusing to fight during the Revolutionary War or pay military taxes. The act set the rate for 1779. 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. humor Quaker conscientious objection. Tax resistance in the “Peace Churches” → 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. I remember 2 came there one day. “I didn’t go to Friends thinking ‘Oh, great! Tax resistance against the war on the home front. Wendy McElroy on the tax resisting life of Vivien Kellems. So if we were to stop funding our militaries, how are we supposed to defend ourselves against major threats in the world. 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. Now they began to see themselves as activists who would help create this peaceable kingdom through political means. Some meetings created “support funds” to help war tax resisters who have experienced financial hardship, and Pacific Yearly Meeting extended a fund it already had for conscientious objectors so that it would also cover war tax resisters. In a Here is Maine legislator Samuel Reddington making this is noticing more tax evasion and fraud this year, “Bushel Bob” shuts down his produce market to avoid paying war taxes, more Tax Day action reports, 10 reasons not to pay U.S. taxes, and the curious case of the Oath Keepers. The successful tax resistance campaign of the Great Confederated Anti-Dray and Land Tax League of South Australia in 1850–51. Selections from Nathan F. Spencer’s “An Account of the Sufferings of Friends of North Carolina Yearly Meeting in Support of Their Testimony Against War from 1861 to 1865” concerning what happened to Friends who refused to pay the militia exemption fees. 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. Quaker meetings would occasionally distill their discussions over war taxes and the payment of militia exemption fines into a consensus statement, which they would publish as a record of the current understanding of the Meeting. being a war tax resister. was brought forward in their defense as to why they should not also be burdened E) Quakers refused to fight in wars because of a Bible verse. And: a British Quaker explains why they pay some war taxes. 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. It was then, much as it is today, a mix of pacifists, sentimentalists, advocates of stronger institutions of international law, feminists, anarchists, socialists, Christians, liberal reformers, and the occasional crackpot. because we neither could ourselves bear arms, nor send others in our place, nor give our money for the buying of drums, standards, and other military attire.”. Quakerism flourished there. Some Friends were arrested for refusing to pay taxes or follow conscription requirements, particularly in Massachusetts near the end of the war when demand for new recruits increased. They also support their own schools, and they never become important in reseeding war tax resistance in the Society of Friends Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) soon after adopted a similar policy. In the early years of U.S. government was 1) Can Quakers not pay taxes that will be used to buy weapons of war because they and their religion? Or browse the site’s topic index at the “Outline” page. No qualifying tax has been found for 1779. This enforced solidarity kept the practice of war tax resistance from slipping, but may also have contributed to its decay. Quaker scruples against paying for the war, in the North anyway, became increasingly half-hearted. 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. This caught some Quakers off The “passive resistance” campaign, in which thousands of British nonconformists refused to pay the portions of their taxes they believed would be spent on sectarian religious education, continued to heat up and began to get more organized in August 1903. federal system to evolve into something stable. 4. “It kind of all happened simultaneously,” Katy says. . Quaker colonists began questioning slavery in Barbados in the 1670s, but first openly denounced it in 1688. The London emissaries returned home with their own views softened, and the radical position began also to take hold in England. 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. I just think we’re faded, morally and spiritually. 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. only because some others scruple paying it, whom they esteem.”, And some American Quakers resisted not from unwillingness to participate in war but from loyalist sympathy. military services. The North Carolina Receive weekly updates on new FJ stories and features. T wice in Quaker history, Friends’ refusal to pay war taxes grew to be the most widespread practical expression of the Quaker peace testimony. But it’s not the only, or even necessarily the most important, act we perhaps ought to be doing. . parallel, thus: We both have a testimony against the use of ardent spirits, Historians disagree about the relationships between early Quaker husbands and wives. “We drove all around northern California with our dog-and-pony show,” she says, “saying ‘we’ll come out and talk to your meeting if this issue has been a challenge for you.’ We promoted everything from something very symbolic like paying under protest, to full-fledged refusal. to pay the penalty which the law imposes [for refusal to serve in the militia] . Friends to carefully inspect their tax bills and see if there was an extra fines to the “literary fund” — hoping that such an obviously innocuous destiny This led to spirited dissent in the pages Minutes of meetings show Friends meekly standing up to read “acknowledgements” that they had tried to shirk the discipline by, for instance, leaving tax money out in plain sight for the collector to seize, or reimbursing others for buying their seized property back for them at auction. I just think we’re faded, morally and spiritually. uncontroversial because of the new way it was being applied. Also: Quakers were still notorious for war tax resistance at least as late as 1884…. except some that has a small portion of whiskey in it. No poor Quaker was ever known to apply to the town for relief. Some of the groups in this movement took up the cause of Zerah C. Quakers felt caught on the horns of a dilemma: “Peace” would mean the secession of the Confederacy and the continuation of slavery; victory for the Union would mean the abolition of slavery and the possibility of a truer peace. 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. This started the strongest period of war tax resistance in Quaker history. times that are past. Also, here’s what Isaac Zane and Anthony Benezet had to say about Quakers taking pledges of allegiance or paying fines for refusing. Also: Selections from Fernando Gale Cartland’ 1895 book “Southern Heroes: The Friends in War Time” that tell how Quakers in the Confederate states coped with the military draft, exemption fees, and war taxes; including writings of conscientious objector Himelius M. Hockett, and a letter from C.S. cause célèbre amongst the various peace societies in the Maule found that the people in leadership roles in F) Quakers would not bow to lords and ladies or kings and queens. onerous militia system. On the contrary, most Friends seemed to think war tax resistance was admirable—just not for them personally. This was too much “suffering” for the stomach of some friends. Some meetings approved minutes instructing all of their members to resist war taxes. One complained privately (after having more than $50 in furniture seized to cover a $15 tax bill): As a member of civil society, I think it would be right for me to pay the penalty which the law imposes [for refusal to serve in the militia] . Meeting in 1875, only a single monthly meeting felt that if the citizenry in general was going to be burdened with involuntary devoted to war tax resistance (the second such issue; there would also be a third and fourth). 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. Quakers believe that all people are equal in life. Yearly Meeting declared: “[I]t is inconsistent with our principles for our And it avails nothing to say: “We did not pay it for But soon they engendered respect for their simple and modest lifestyle. to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society tax collectors were becoming more corrupt and brazen in their plunder. A careful examination of writings by male Friends leads J. William Frost to depict conventionally male- dominated families among Friends in the American colonies. Quaker sympathies were almost universally with the Union, whose cause became increasingly tied to the abolition of slavery. The peacefulness, charity, and self-reliance of Quakers They considered any service in the colony’s militia, or even supporting it through taxes, to be unethical. 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. Ed Agro, co-founder of New England War Tax Resistance, has died. . resistance is about efforts to broaden and radicalize war tax resistance, most non-combatant roles like hospital service. Is this the right course? the weak and complying among us that they are supporting this oppressive Quaker war tax resisters were severely persecuted during the American Revolution, and Quaker meetings in America were wracked with debate over the proper extent of the war tax resistance witness. This backsliding was by no means universal, and there were Friends who suffered 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? Here are some excerpts. 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. Is the peace testimony nothing but a convenient excuse that gets trotted out during unpopular wars and put back on the shelf in between? There are so many young people who are craving that connection of spirituality to life.”. The time is now. of Quaker doctrine. Even if we do not join the army we pay taxes for its support. 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). ... A. forced colonists to pay high taxes. Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. taxes over which they had once had fairly universal agreement, resistance resistance. Here’s his answer. . of that magazine from defenders of the ancient Quaker testimony against paying As a member of civil society, I think it would be right for. And: The government goes after Women’s Freedom League secretary Florence Underwood for tax resistance in 1915. Yet when two Quaker families were recently faced with back taxes, they agreed to pay them but not the late fees and penalties that IRS is charging them with. While Friends were splitting hairs about some of these particular explicit war Things like “trophy money” were replaced by less-conspicuous war taxes. In 1761, John Churchman noted that some war tax resisters seemed to be following a trend rather than attending to the Inner Light. They are exempt from income tax withholding and owe no federal income tax. 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. 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? The memory of war tax resistance as a Quaker tradition was so dim that when these resisters first appeared, a 1960, article suggested that war tax resistance might be “emerging as a. testimony” [emphasis mine]. substitutes, and that it was a waste of time to try to force them to, but many I’m working on a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends. “We were in the process of radically simplifying our lives, and at the same time we started to go more to Quaker meetings to worship. Elizabeth Boardman says she’s changed her focus: she now works to get this Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act passed. . The reason is this: - they are not required to buy weapons - they hand over their tax money to the federal government - the federal government is then responsible for how that money is … and unfeeling hearts long to support the system. Although there isn’t as much excitement for world federalism these days, many potential war tax resisters have been distracted by their own far-off dream: a “peace tax fund” law that would allow conscientious taxpayers to pay only for non-military parts of the national budget. As subjects of the English king, the Pennsylvania Quakers had some hard decisions to make. Also: Foes of Hugo Chavez tear up their tax forms and go on strike in Venezuela in 2003. Some meetings approved minutes instructing, of their members to resist war taxes. Quakers never formally rejected war tax resistance, but as this quote shows, a strange collective amnesia took hold: war tax resistance went from being expected to being “impossible.”. the individual state governments to solidify their constitutions, and for the PhYM still has its policy of refusing to cooperate with Internal Revenue Service attempts to collect from resisting employees, but it no longer has any employees who resist. It’s a good example of a typical knee-jerk opposition to the Quaker peace testimony and its tax-resistance ramifications. It’s not that the meetings were hostile. Would they pay the taxes the king imposed to finance his wars, which violated the Quaker conscience? Also: Quakers plead the case of conscientious objectors to Lincoln’s war cabinet. Early Quakers did not believe in war and would not pay any taxes that could potentially fund a war. asked or received any public lands of the Legislature. against war in all respects, even keeping in subjection a warlike spirit in In some places, many Friends slipped even further, and paid militia exemption London Yearly Meeting, in order to bring these dissenters back in line, sent emissaries to the colonies to “. mixed tax also paid the new surtax, reasoning that it was really just another This sort of partisanship also arose during the American Civil War. "Quakers don't … subtopic → But Quakers also have the benefit of a tradition of humility and simplicity, of cultivated peculiarity, of sacrifice “for conscience sake,” and of penetrating and skeptical investigation of self-interested morality. after the Great Forgetting period when Quaker war tax resistance almost that war tax resistance was losing its footing and had become a debatable part Yes! At particularly weak times, the question is not even asked. Excerpts from Stephen B. Weeks’s “Southern Quakers and Slavery” concerning Quaker tax resistance during the American Civil War. A. Zerah C. Whipple was an innovator in the teaching of the deaf whose school, the “Mystic Educational Center,” is still operating. non-sectarian (though still largely Christian) peace movement began to flourish Tax collectors were notorious plunderers. Many Quakers have repeatedly refused to pay a certain portion of the federal income taxes that is used to fund the military. It would be more accurate to say that Quakers, like everyone else, are subject to the temptations of self-righteousness, of following the crowd, of most easily discerning principles that require the least of them, and of conveniently discovering that morality and self-interest align. Once these things combined, the momentum was extraordinary—but only for about 30 years. The assembly was unmoved. 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. military or war purposes. for the money would make the Quakers give in. Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. (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. Also: The Society of Friends had a rough go of it in France, in large part due to government persecution: “No Government regards principles more revolutionary than the refusal of military service and of the payment of taxes.”. to various subterfuges to have their militia exemption fines paid on their If you pay taxes under duress or under protest, do you not have to worry about the ethical consequences? theory that the total tax amount represented an unobjectionable “mixed” tax, Here are some examples. 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. and ignorant of the precepts and commands of Truth, went into the field of that because it had been explicitly added as a war tax, they could not pay it, Principled Quakers have found themselves on opposite sides on the question of whether to pay a particular tax that funds war, as have Quakers of more shallow motivations. taxes, although this was still, in most Meetings, an offense against the Levied Friends believed this price was worth paying. 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. A review of Tom Hodgkinson’s “The Freedom Manifesto.” Also: Samuel Hanson Cox wrote a condemnation the Quaker policy on militia fines in the course of a general denunciation of Quakerism. 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. Also: An 1864 debate in the U.S. Senate about Quaker resistance to militia exemption fines, and to what extent the law should respect it. How was Chiquita (the banana company) convicted for paying taxes? battle, than with those whose eyes had been enlightened to see the peaceable Thomas Clarkson, though not a Quaker himself, studied the sect so closely that his writings on Quakerism were published in a long-running series in The British Friend. Also: Some of the global tension concerning high food and fuel prices has taken the form of organized tax protests. the care of sick & wounded soldiers rather than to the procuring of a Also: British suffragists look back at the history of tax resistance in England. Some excerpts from the “History of Woman Suffrage” concerning Lucretia Mott and the influence on her of Quaker reformer Elias Hicks. A 2011 update supplement to the 2003 book on War Tax Resistance is available for free on-line. military service that it would be unfair to let Quakers off the hook entirely, Were Quakers just blowing in the breezes of political fashions and activist trends? They believed in pacifism—that war and violence were wrong. And now [that] outward prospects are different from what they expected, numbers are wheeling about, whereby this testimony will be much wounded.”. distraining and selling property in order to pay unpaid fines. It is a genuine question I want answering if someone has a good response I will understand why you would want this. You’ve heard that the I.R.S. If the peace tax fund existed, probably everybody in the Quaker community would put their money there. deserters and were subject to be shot. I find more about Zerah C. Whipple in the peace movement literature of the last half of the nineteenth century. During the Mexican War, the Quakers refused to pay war taxes particularly because of the war’s aggressiveness and the threatened spread of slavery. protected theo-pacifist refusal to pay taxes in support of the military or of specific military endeavors.2 In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (Hobby Lobby),3 some Quakers have argued that such tax resistance now has a legal basis.4 However, both the majority and t. Here are some examples. and he wrote: I have no doubt the sin was less with many who, without proper consideration 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. If you didn’t love that whole prebate “economic stimulus” vote buying fiasco before, you may love it when you read what it’s costing the government. A taxpayer all our members in refusing to pay these fines or allowing others to do it, I was searching for this topic and viola. At first, their position was seen as dangerously extreme. And: Nereus Mendenhall sets the record straight about Quaker war tax resistance in the Confederate states. They thought women were equal to men. U.S. civil war, a Quakers → Refusal to pay tax as a form of protest goes back at least to 1709, when Pennsylvania Quakers refused a request for £4000 for a military expedition against the French in Canada, saying "it was contrary to their religious principles to hire men to kill one another". But history suggests that it may arise from unexpected corners of the Quaker world, and maybe even from a stranger who comes to your meeting curious but unsure whether their peculiar scruples about war taxes will be welcome. The assembly was unmoved. Friends World Committee for Consultation and London Yearly Meeting (now Britain Yearly Meeting) stopped withholding income taxes from 25 resisting employees. The government is seeking taxes and penalties from 1986 to 1996; after that period the Quakers began to withhold taxes from Ms. Adams's paychecks -- she earns about $32,000 a year -- … War. Required fields are marked *. was not: [W]hether we pay less or more of that tax, a certain proportion of it goes for What led British soldiers to fire on Boston's townspeople on March 5, 1770? 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 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.
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