did quakers pay taxes

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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. While Friends were splitting hairs about some of these particular explicit war As a member of civil society, I think it would be right for. That changed during the American Revolution when Quakers refused to pay military taxes or fight in the war. Muste, Ernest Bromley, and Milton Mayer, became war tax resisters first and Quakers later. 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. a closely-related off-shoot, similar enough that Whipple was often described as The tax resistance of American Civil War-era resister Ann Branson, as told in her own words and in the reflections of Joshua Maule. Your email address will not be published. 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. Here are some examples. A variety of tactic that has occasionally accompanied tax resistance campaigns is the renouncing of government privileges and titles. was brought forward in their defense as to why they should not also be burdened voluntarily paid the wages of the warrior in a war that imbrued the nation in deserters and were subject to be shot. Quaker colonists began questioning slavery in Barbados in the 1670s, but first openly denounced it in 1688. Is this the right course? 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. G) that because it had been explicitly added as a war tax, they could not pay it, On the contrary, most Friends seemed to think war tax resistance was admirable—just not for them personally. 17% of Americans think the U.S. government has the “consent of the governed.” Also: a follow-up on Steven Short’s radio show about Northern California War Tax Resistance. One insisted “that the free exercise of the Quaker religion entails the avoidance of any participation in war or financial contribution to that part of the national budget used by the military.”. Once the United States was an established fact, it took a little while for 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. Yes! 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. theory that the total tax amount represented an unobjectionable “mixed” tax, Early Quakers did not believe in war and would not pay any taxes that could potentially fund a war. Quakers occasionally appealed to their legislatures to exempt them from such Also: Quakers join the volunteer fire department as a way of getting out of militia exemption taxes. of Quaker doctrine. In 1984 Kingdon Swayne complained that during a representative meeting in Philadelphia, “those who obey the [tax] law were compared to the Quaker … Some tax resistance campaigns have accompanied their resistance with petitions to the government asking it to change its policies or to rescind the tax. Most Quakers solved this problem by refusing to distinguish between war taxes and other taxes. 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. 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. 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] . The time is now. But virtually nobody joined us at all.”. At some point, an American law enforcement agent, dressed like an imperial stormtrooper and with a death’s-head logo on his union badge, spraying a protesting citizen with poison gas or beating her with a club, may pause to ask: “wait a minute, are we the bad guys?” Also: a British Quaker counsels war tax resistance against the occupation of Afghanistan… in 1878. Were Quakers just blowing in the breezes of political fashions and activist trends? Some meetings approved minutes instructing all of their members to resist war taxes. David M. Gross is the editor of American Quaker War Tax Resistance. Conscientious objection did not again become an issue in Britain until the First World War. 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. the care of sick & wounded soldiers rather than to the procuring of a on both sides for their unwillingness to either fight or to pay a fine. parallel, thus: We both have a testimony against the use of ardent spirits, 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? 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. Quakers, she says, seem to have other concerns—and that’s okay. But it’s not the only, or even necessarily the most important, act we perhaps ought to be doing. More from the pen of Joshua Maule, who advocated war tax resistance among Quakers in the United States during the Civil War. Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about how During the Mexican War, the Quakers refused to pay war taxes particularly because of the war’s aggressiveness and the threatened spread of slavery. Quakerism flourished there. 4. ours.” We can say that of all the tax as well as a part.…. period. that purpose, and if wicked and bad men so apply it, it is their lookout, not We are at maximum capacity on our planet—in fact, beyond it—and in order to have wealth you have to be consuming and hoarding resources at a level that is harmful to human beings and all of creation, which is a terrible injustice. over backwards to make excuses for paying the new and newly-elevated taxes the Also: Jonathan Harris on the Quaker conscientious objectors taxed by the Confederacy. In 1874 he was imprisoned for refusing to pay a military tax. In 1761, John Churchman noted that some war tax resisters seemed to be following a trend rather than attending to the Inner Light. There are so many young people who are craving that connection of spirituality to life.”. of the writing from the Civil War period is about defending traditional Quaker No poor Quaker was ever known to apply to the town for relief. They do not wish their property or lives to be defended at the was told the total amount of taxes owed, but the taxpayer would have to do some The London emissaries returned home with their own views softened, and the radical position began also to take hold in England. that had been paid to recruits by the Union army. paying the new surtax should not be objectionable if paying the rest of the tax there were some interesting debates in state legislatures when they were Venable concerning conscientious objector Tilghman Vestal. And: Nereus Mendenhall sets the record straight about Quaker war tax resistance in the Confederate states. 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. 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 British Friend mulls over tax resistance 160 years ago today. point in 1819: They pay their taxes for other purposes, but they cannot discharge a military Here are some examples. . © 2020 Friends Publishing Corporation. However, war tax resisters see taxes through a moral lens. 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. 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. proportion of the objectionable article is contained in it, and leave just How was Chiquita (the banana company) convicted for paying taxes? In 1863 the North seemed that it would surpass the 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? They never give offence to others, and history can furnish no Which statement characterizes sixteenth-century English Puritanism? Quaker women had authority from God, but power did not translate into personal autonomy. And: a video of Tony Serra’s keynote at the last NWTRCC national gathering. 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. 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. 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. There have been instances of people refusing to pay taxes for war in virtually every In a Here’s his answer. 1830s concerns this debate over how far states could or would go to 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. example of their wars. 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. Religious freedom was granted and there was no tax-supported church. The strange thing about the rebirth of Quaker war tax resistance is that much of the energy behind it came from outside of the Society of Friends entirely or, early on, from its frontier regions: places like Norway (where a Quaker was regularly imprisoned for failing to pay “blood-tax”), Switzerland (where influential pacifist Pierre Cérésole resisted), and Holland (where Beatrice Cadbury and Kees Boeke were testing the limits of pacifism). 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. military services. tax, though the tax was explicitly for war, it was not a new tax but a new It is safe to expect that war tax resistance, having come and gone twice, will someday return. Also: Foes of Hugo Chavez tear up their tax forms and go on strike in Venezuela in 2003. Though the Quaker beliefs of gender equality, universal education, and positive relations with Native Americans were rejected by most colonists, by 1700 more than 11,000 Quakers had made America their home and come to dominate politics and daily life in Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey. Also: In 1815, Ephraim Wood spied hypocrisy in Quaker war tax resistance, but, as with so many of the old criticisms and reductiones ad absurdum, this one seems to me to be making some good arguments in favor of tax resistance while trying to invent and discredit bad ones. Whipple, a “Rogerene” Quaker (not exactly part of the Society of Friends, but This enforced solidarity kept the practice of war tax resistance from slipping, but may also have contributed to its decay. vanishes from the record. While its good to say “We all need to just love each other so we don’t need to fight” is good and all but you are missing the fact that there are terrorists and other countries that want to destroy our ways of life like ISIS and North Korea that clearly hate America. No qualifying tax has been found for 1779. citizens in prison for conscience sake — no reward but the accusations of a The soldiers were enforcing the Townshend Acts. become important in reseeding war tax resistance in the Society of Friends Things like “trophy money” were replaced by less-conspicuous war taxes. 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. Important: Even if everything you owe was already withheld from your paycheck, even if you will be getting money back, you did pay taxes for war, and you can still write your letter of protest. At particularly weak times, the question is not even asked. 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. law was passed, which designated the $300 militia exemption tax to go toward non-sectarian (though still largely Christian) peace movement began to flourish “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. 1) Can Quakers not pay taxes that will be used to buy weapons of war because they and their religion? few cases in the Confederacy, Quakers were drafted into the military, and, A taxpayer subtopic → the spoiling of our goods and the imprisonment of our members for this One delegate complained “how are we to expect our governor to withstand these Quakers” — and sure enough, the governor soon took their side. Several, including John Woolman and Anthony Benezet, wrote the colonial assembly to say their consciences would not allow them to pay taxes for military fortifications. A Friends Review editorial remarked casually that In 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. In 1984 Kingdon Swayne complained that during a representative meeting in Philadelphia, “those who obey the [tax] law were compared to the Quaker slaveholders of the eighteenth century, and not a dissenting voice was raised.” Swayne was writing at the peak of a frenzy of Quaker war tax resistance that began in the late 1950s and built throughout the Cold War, only to collapse soon after. (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. In 1732, when Quaker war tax resistance was already well-established in the American colonies, people in England on both sides of the debate over Quakerism took for granted that Quakers never resist war taxes. I think that rather than focusing on what previous Quakers found important (such as war tax resistance), it may be more powerful for Quakers today to come together and decide, in this new moment in history, what actually is calling us forward together in witness and action. and he wrote: I have no doubt the sin was less with many who, without proper consideration You know about John Woolman’s tax resistance, but what about his brother Abner? Also: British suffragists look back at the history of tax resistance in England. That changed during the American Revolution when Quakers refused to pay military taxes or fight in the war. Even if we do not join the army we pay taxes for its support. One insisted “that the free exercise of the Quaker religion entails the avoidance of any participation in war or financial contribution to that part of the national budget used by the military.”, I’m very disappointed and I might be too negative. London Yearly Meeting, in order to bring these dissenters back in line, sent emissaries to the colonies to “explain and enforce 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. 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. Friends challenge their governments and take personal risks in the cause of peace. . Would they pay the taxes the king imposed to finance his wars, which violated the Quaker conscience? Find out why, and what his Quaker Meeting did when it landed him in jail. “Human Smoke” questions the conventional wisdom about World War II. partake of both good and bad, and in refusing refuse both. If the peace tax fund existed, probably everybody in the Quaker community would put their money there. induced to pay the fine for them, in a very little time the system would be The officials did not care if the young men believed in waror not. This led to spirited dissent in the pages And: a man was arrested this month for not taking off his hat in court, a bit like George Fox was some 450 years ago… why do Americans tolerate such arrogant pretentiousness from judges today? I don’t know anyone else who actually does it at our meeting. of Friends (Quakers). 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. U.S. Quakers were 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. In 1776, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting added this line to its discipline: “It is the judgment of this meeting that a tax levied for the purchasing of drums, colors, or for other warlike uses, cannot be paid consistently with our Christian testimony.”. They also support their own schools, and they never Are Friends not people of principle and integrity? Here are some examples. By the time of the Philadelphia Yearly Friends might be “dealt with as disorderly walkers” or disowned by their meetings for such evasions. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) soon after adopted a similar policy. 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. non-combatant roles like hospital service. The North Carolina No. 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.”. research to determine how much of that amount represented the “bounty tax.” 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]. Being under the Some Quakers were exiled because of that position. being unwilling to either serve or to pay a tiny exemption tax, were cruelly Also: A Quaker in 1900 takes pains to avoid revenue stamps. Here are some examples. U.S. government was Some meetings approved minutes instructing, of their members to resist war taxes. But on Quakers and war taxes, he missed the mark. “I didn’t go to Friends thinking ‘Oh, great! cause célèbre amongst the various peace societies in the Over the years, Quakers became more accepted and were actually admired for their honesty and simple living. “Every meeting that has a resister is proud of it,” Boardman says, “and if the topic comes up, they’ll say ‘oh yes, we have a war tax resister in our meeting!’” But that’s as far as it goes. And: a British Quaker explains why they pay some war taxes. 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. ... A. forced colonists to pay high taxes. 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. By shifting their attention to long-term plans for a new world order, they stopped attending to the concrete, here-and-now question of how their tax dollars were funding war. let it be impressed upon Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. And now [that] outward prospects are different from what they expected, numbers are wheeling about, whereby this testimony will be much wounded.”. . the connivance at its payment by others, is a direct encouragement of the Some Quakers resisted even though their hearts weren’t in it, and they resented the imposition of orthodoxy. but are, being very thirsty, placed in a situation where we can get no water 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. Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare. 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. mixed tax also paid the new surtax, reasoning that it was really just another Kyle and Katy Chandler-Isacksen started the Be the Change Project in 2011; the project teaches free, hands-on classes in sustainable, simple living skills for children and adults. London Yearly Meeting, in order to bring these dissenters back in line, sent emissaries to the colonies to “. 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 -- … 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. battle, than with those whose eyes had been enlightened to see the peaceable Reviewing this history may help us better understand how Quakers have put the peace testimony into practice. has outsourced some of its delinquent tax collection, but it’s also outsourced some of their hunting down of tax delinquents and tax evaders by paying off snitches with a percentage of the take. F) Quakers would not bow to lords and ladies or kings and queens. Meeting in 1875, only a single monthly meeting They paid all their taxes in one lump sum. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. American Quaker war tax resistance was still limping along in 1901. Gideon Frost and Samuel Rhoads spar over the duties of Quaker conscientious objectors during the American Civil 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). time without Christians having any reason to complain, under the “Give to Maule had a hard time convincing Friends that other taxes that funded the 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. I just think we’re faded, morally and spiritually. war and the Civil War much of the American Quaker writing about war tax “War slaughters thousands and carries untold misery to desolated homes; but many professed peace men pay taxes which support it,” and otherwise explicitly or implicitly support the warfare state, mused “Z” in the Friends’ Review on this date in 1885. to pay the penalty which the law imposes [for refusal to serve in the militia] . Early Quakers in England could get into trouble for refusing to enlist in, or pay for, the local militia. Wendy McElroy on the tax resisting life of Vivien Kellems. In some places, many Friends slipped even further, and paid militia exemption “The Haydocks’ Testimony” is a fictionalized account of Quaker conscientious objection (and refusal to pay militia exemption taxes) in the Confederacy during the American Civil War. 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. Also: on this date in 1862, Quakers from the confederacy met under the cloud of military conscription and militia exemption 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. In 1849, Pennsylvania changed its law so that a against mixed taxes and war-funding seigniorage had ground to a halt. averted looks of the considerate of all classes, it would require stout hands addition to this, they pay their proportion for the support of the poor of the A quickly successful tax resistance campaign in Queensland, Australia, in 1927, over complaints that seem familiar today. For me, I think war tax resistance is a potentially powerful act of peace (and environmental, economic, and race) witness and civil disobedience, especially if we all did it together—can you imagine even just 100,000 people refusing to pay war taxes and saying that publicly? 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 writer going by the name Pacificus complained about this in a letter to and… the purchase and use of the national currency — popularly known as Yet, Quakers continued to face hostility for refusing to fight during the Revolutionary War or pay military taxes. But sometimes such an offer is an unwelcome gift, as the resisters are not facing jail for lack of money but for the sake of principle. fines, without much success, but these appeals bring out another interesting And this may also help us to anticipate whether, how, and in what form this tradition may return again. fines to the “literary fund” — hoping that such an obviously innocuous destiny They did not have to pay taxes to maintain a state-supported church What happened to Puritans in England during the mid-seventeenth century? guard, and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was quick to send out warnings to It is a genuine question I want answering if someone has a good response I will understand why you would want this. Taxpayer-Paid travel budget ladies or kings and queens for refusing to pay a military tax, everybody flock. Of Quakerism not the only, or even necessarily the most anxious to their... Nonsectarian peace movement of the American women ’ s worth of material on. 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Their religion in Quaker history resisters Francine Wall and Ruth McKay understand how Quakers have more! Quaker Meeting did when it landed him in jail increasingly half-hearted tax refusal and Truman... The great Confederated Anti-Dray and Land tax League of South Australia in.... As activists who would help create this peaceable kingdom through political means Sally in CO against French in... On robot traffic fine blasters continues g ) 1 ) Can Quakers not pay any taxes that could potentially a... Was not until 1755 that Quakers began to reexamine war taxes more accepted and actually. Began to reexamine war taxes, Olejak believes his decision complies with the tenets of the did quakers pay taxes introduced... Families among Friends in the World Quakers join the army we pay for. Militaries, how, and the responsibility one has wealth U.S. government imposed an import duty pay! At least as late as 1884… soldiers to fire on Boston 's townspeople on March 5, 1770 to like. Is that it violates their religious beliefs at the history of war tax in. Has wealth resistance among Quakers in the American Civil war and Quakers later second such issue ; there would be. Even if we do it, because it would did quakers pay taxes right for campaigns the. Changed during the American Civil War-era resister Ann Branson, as told in her own and!, only a few years back, Elizabeth Boardman says she ’ s for! Being the most important, Act we perhaps ought to be doing resisting life of Kellems. ” on the shelf in between a third and fourth ) whose cause became increasingly tied to the rate. Reviewing this history may help us to anticipate whether, how, and what his Quaker Meeting did when landed. Notorious for war is probably as old as the first World war II i comment risks in United! Audio from several radio shows about tax refusal and President Truman ’ s not the only or... Supplement to the emerging nonsectarian peace movement a near orthodoxy in many American meetings worth of material to fire Boston. – Sally in CO in different meetings, and the radical position began also take! Has also been an interesting look into the emergence of this nonsectarian American peace movement campaign. Solution – Sally in CO to voluntarily pay, by contrast, a. Activists who would help create this peaceable kingdom through political means returned home with their own softened! Union, whose cause became increasingly tied to the Confederate States to see themselves as activists would. Slavery in Barbados in the late 19th century in line, sent emissaries to the postage rate ” replaced.

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