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Posts by David Gross

TPL · History of Quaker War Tax Resistance: The Beginnings

At the upcoming national gathering of NWTRCC at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, I’m going to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about the first period of Quaker war tax resistance — between the founding of the Society of Friends and the establishment of the Quaker colony in Pennsylvania.

The beginnings (~)

George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, was not a war tax resister. We know this because he explicitly advised Quakers to pay a war tax and also because his daughter kept good records of the family finances, which explicitly list “Souldiers pay” among the expenses.

But the fact that Fox had to write a letter encouraging Quakers to pay war taxes indicates that the question was a live one in the Society from the beginning. The Quakers did refuse to pay legally-mandated tithes to the establishment church, so a tradition of conscientious objection to taxation was there to draw on, and some Quakers quickly drew the logical conclusion that as pacifists they should also refuse to pay to the priesthood of Mars.

Fox, though, hoped to end the persecution of the Society of Friends by a suspicious government, and thought that by presenting them as both thoroughly pacifist (and thus no military threat to the government) and as willing taxpayers (and thus of direct assistance to the government), he could best make his case. If Quakers refused to serve in the military and also refused to pay war taxes, he worried, the government might find the Quakers to be more trouble than they’re worth, complaining “How can we defend you against foreign enemies and protect everyone in their estates and keep down thieves and murderers?”

But a number of Quakers must have disregarded Fox’s advice, because as early as you start to see entries in the “books of sufferings” maintained by the Society about the persecution of Quakers for refusing to pay things like “Trophy Money,” the “Charge of the Trained-Bands,” the “Charge of the Militia” and other war taxes of that sort.

In , Quakers became aware of another anabaptist sect, the Hutterites in Hungary, who were also practicing war tax resistance.

In , in Robert Barclay’s influential defense of Quaker principles, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, he states that Quakers “have suffered much in our country, 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.”

By this has started to become codified into an official discipline in some places. One Meeting had this query for its members that year:

Do you bear a faithful testimony against bearing arms, and paying trophy money, or being in any manner concerned in the militia, in privateers, letters of marque, armed vessels or in dealing in prize goods as such?

TPL · Groping Toward a History of Quaker War Tax Resistance

At the upcoming national gathering of NWTRCC at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, I’m going to be presenting a summary of the history of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends (Quakers).

Preparing for this talk has been daunting. It’s a huge topic, spanning centuries and continents, and there are gaps and biases both in the historical record itself, and in my personal knowledge about it.

I’m also not a Quaker, and so am in the awkward and somewhat suspect position of trying to explain Quaker history to Quakers (I expect many of the attendees will be Quakers, particularly as Earlham College is a Quaker institution) as an outsider. Indeed I’m not Christian or even religious, so when I read a Quaker testifying that the holy spirit or “the light” or something of that nature is compelling him or her to take a certain course of action, I just have to sort of take it “on faith” that they know what they’re talking about.

So I’m going to ask you to indulge me as I think “out loud” on The Picket Line while I’m trying to organize my notes.

Most of the material I’m working with while assembling this history comes from two sources: the huge stash of documents I assembled into the collection American Quaker War Tax Resistance, and the archives of the Friends Journal. Both of these sources are biased towards reports of American Friends and Meetings, leaving out much of what may have been happening elsewhere. They also leave time gaps. The first stops at ; the second covers . I’ve tried to supplement this with material from other sources when I could find it.

There seem to me to be some distinct “periods” of Quaker war tax resistance:

The beginnings (~)
War tax resistance has been part of Quaker practice almost from the very beginning. George Fox paid his war taxes and counseled Quakers to do so, but Robert Barclay’s Apology published in reports that Quakers “have suffered much… 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.”

The Pennsylvania experiment ()
Quakers ran the colonial legislature in Pennsylvania, founded by Quaker William Penn. This allowed them to put their pacifist principles to the test, which they did to some extent. But most commentators on the period portray the legislature as refusing to enact requested war funding measures mostly as a negotiating gambit, and that they eventually would cough up the war money in thinly-veiled ways. This led several individual Quakers to pledge to refuse to pay taxes to the Quaker government, which in turn led the London Yearly Meeting to come out against such war tax resistance. Eventually this tension became too great, and Quakers gave up government control in Pennsylvania.

The American revolution & aftermath ()
The conscientious Quaker dissidents in America proved influential and their ideas spread, even, eventually, to London, where the meeting found itself coping with a new, home-grown challenge to war tax paying. American Quakers suffered much during the American Revolution for their refusal to give material support to the rebel army, and some dissident Quakers broke off from their meetings because of this. A purifying and intensifying tendency began to rock the Society of Friends, in the aftermath of the war, which tended to strengthen the testimony against paying war taxes, but ended by splitting the Society.

The U.S. Civil War period ()
American Quakers identify with the abolitionist cause, which eventually becomes a war aim of the Union side in the Civil War. The society largely maintains its peace testimony and refusal to pay war taxes through the war, at least on an official level, but there is a slackening in how it is practiced and enforced, and in the aftermath of the war both are shadows of their former selves.

The great forgetting ()
War tax resisters are few and fairly quiet for decades. When war tax resistance is mentioned, it is as a relic of a former time like “thees” and “thous”. To the extent that it still remains on the record as a part of Quaker discipline, it is ignored as something belonging to another time. By and large, Quakers pay even explicit war taxes without complaint.

The thaw ()
A war tax resistance movement begins to coalesce in the United States, but it’s notable how few of its prominent members are Quakers. Eventually, though, this begins to embolden the remaining American Quaker war tax resisters and to rekindle interest in the Society of Friends.

The renaissance ()
The cold war nuclear arms race and the Vietnam War cause a resurgence of war tax resistance in the Society of Friends around the world, from Japan to Norway. By , pretty much all American Quakers must have confronted the issue of war taxes and made a decision about what to do about it. Some Meetings began resisting taxes as a group. War tax resistance becomes a central part of the Quaker peace testimony, and American Quakers who are not resisting in some fashion are on the defensive about it.

The second forgetting ()
The end of the cold war took some of the urgency out of the war tax issue for some Quakers, and those who still felt a concern about war taxes often looked for magical ways to make the issue go away without having to resort to actual tax resistance — such as “peace tax fund” legislation or increasingly desperate and fruitless legal appeals. Remnants of the renaissance period war tax resistance stands still exist, but have little vitality or momentum. Most mentions of war tax resistance in the Friends Journal are seen in the obituaries column.

In some of these periods, to be a Quaker was necessarily to be a war tax resister, as just about every household was subject to some sort of explicit war tax or militia exemption tax and the discipline of Quaker meetings required Friends to refuse to pay such taxes or to risk being disowned. In other periods, such explicit war taxes had vanished, and the government paid for war through less explicit, less transparent, more general-purpose taxes. In those periods, Quaker war tax resistance was more a subject for individual decision and debate and there was a less clear-cut orthodox opinion on how Friends should behave.

TPL · Jury Acquits Accused Rebeccaites

The Monmouthshire Merlin tells of some possible Rebeccaites or Rebecca-impostors who were accused of having gotten a little carried away with their lawlessness.

Sheriff’s officer William Frame testified that one night he was staying at a home in Bridgend where he was levying goods when it was broken into by armed men. One “was dressed in woman’s apparel [with] a light gown on him, black bonnet, and a cap tied under the chin.” They assaulted him and tied him up, and then ransacked the house and stole food, liquor, and bedding.

Alas for the prosecution, “the jury at length returned a verdict of not guilty, immediately on which the crowded court clapped their hands and shouted and cheered tremendously; a large number of respectable parties near the bench loudly expressing their unqualified disbelief of the correctness of the verdict.” However:

After the jury had acquitted John Richards, John Phillips, and Isaac James, on an indictment for house breaking and larceny, they were arraigned on an indictment, charging them with riot and assault on the sheriff’s officers, arising out of the Rebecca case, at the Bridge End, at Pontyoool, on … and having pleaded not guilty, the prosecutor applied to traverse until next sessions, which was granted, and the defendants, each with two sureties, entered into recognizances to appear accordingly.

TPL · Resisting “The Assessed Taxes” in England

There was sporadic tax resistance practiced against what were called “the assessed taxes” in England in .

I’ve had a hard time tracking down just what the “assessed taxes” were — some sources suggest they were the property and windows taxes (whereby the tax-value of a building was determined by how many windows it had), while others include taxes on shop owners based on how many employees they had, and there may be others I haven’t seen reference to yet. Most contemporary accounts assume everyone knows which taxes are the assessed ones, and the movement didn’t seem to have left enough of a mark for modern commentators to have bothered to explain it for us.

The grievance that prompted the resistance is also somewhat vague. It was intimated that because the value of the assessment was meant to simulate the potential rental value of the property, this meant that smaller buildings on small plots in town were assessed at greater value than grand manors on vast estates in the country, making the tax a regressive one.

I haven’t done a thorough job of researching this campaign, but I have a handful of examples of references to it, from which I’ll reproduce some choice excerpts today. The first comes from the Royal Cornwlll Gazette on , in the form of an editorial reproduced from the Bath Chronicle denouncing “[t]he Associations which have been formed in the Metropolis for the resistance of the Assessed Taxes.” If you believe the editorialist, these Associations must have been preaching bloody mutiny:

These Associations ought to be opposed and scouted by all who wished to bear the title of good and peaceable subjects; and the Government will have much to answer for in the eyes of England, and of the world, if it does not, by force of the strong hand, teach these bands of misguided or mischievous men that they are not with impunity to bid defiance to the laws, and to wage war with the principles of civil rule.

Even that editorial, though, admitted “[i]t is allowed on all hands that the Assessed Taxes are an odious impost, and it is plain that they must be abolished.”

The Spectator weighed in , apparently quoting from the True Sun:

During the early part of last week, a table belonging to Mr. John Doherty of Manchester, late editor of the Voice of the People, was seized for arrears of Assessed Taxes, which Mr. Doherty declined paying, on the ground that he had no vote. The sale was announced to take place on ; at which time some hundreds of people assembled before the public-house, next door to Mr. Doherty’s, to which place the table was taken: however, an hour elapsed, and it was evident there was some difficulty in procuring an auctioneer. Notwithstanding the rain came down in torrents, the people did not manifest the least impatience. About , Mr. Doherty addressed the people from his chamber window. He entreated them to wait a little longer, and expressed his regret that he could not afford them all shelter from the rain. The bailiff then informed Mr. Doherty, the sale would take place at came, but no sale; and ultimately, at , the bailiff gave up the table. The people then gave three cheers for Doherty, procured a band of music, and took the table round the town in triumph.

Also in the same issue:

On , executions were put into the houses of Mr. Savage, of the Mechanic’s Institute Tavern, Circus Street, New Road, and of Mr. Brain, picture-dealer, Crawford Street, Marylebone, for arrears of Assessed Taxes. About nine in the morning, a Sheriff’s-officer, attended by several of his men, with an Exchequer writ, took possession of the goods of Mr. Brain, consisting of pictures and articles of furniture amounting to 11l. A van, which was at hand, conveyed the property to Mr. Crook’s, auctioneer to the Sheriff, Skinner Street. The officer next proceeded to the house of Mr. Savage, and exhibited his authority for distraining on his goods for arrears of Assessed Taxes amounting to 35l. Mr. Savage said, the officer might take what he thought proper. Some of the best goods on the premises were at once laid hold of; but, on the van being brought up, Mr. Savage warmly protested against the illegality of the proceedings, and accordingly called in six brokers to value the goods seized. No sooner had this gained the ears of the inhabitants, than Circus Street was literally crammed with people, anxious to witness the process, and who were loud and vehement in their expressions of disapprobation of the seizure. The Police on duty hastened to the spot, and succeeded in preventing them from resorting to acts of violence on the instant. About eleven o’clock, a large banner, bearing the words “The people of Marylebone,” was placed in the middle of the street, and the crowd continued to increase; but no violence was attempted. At twelve o’clock, the van which had been loaded with the goods drove off; and it was followed along the New Road by several persons. At the corner of Baker Street, upwards of 1,000 people had assembled; but no one endeavoured to arrest the progress of the vehicle. At length a woman, more courageous than those by whom she was surrounded, rushed through tne mob, and, seizing hold of the horse’s reins, exclaimed, “What! are you Englishmen, and yet suffer these things to be done? — see what a woman dares do!” and turning instantly the head of the animal, a loud cry of “On to Savage’s!” was raised. The officers fled, and the van was then taken back to Mr. Savage’s; and the furniture would have been carried back into his premises, had not he peremptorily refused to receive it. It was then deposited in a warehouse opposite his residence. The furniture having been taken away, the owner of the van endeavoured to get out of the street with his vehicle; but the mob soon demolished the latter with hammers and stones. There was great confusion, and the shopkeepers in Circus Street put up their shutters. A small party of Police then arrived; and the owner of the van was glad to escape with his horse safe.

Mr. Savage and a Mr. Potter went to the Station-house in the afternoon, and met the Under-Sheriff and Mr. Mayne, the Police Commissioner; to whom they gave assurance that the goods would be delivered up. The Under-Sheriff said, that he thought they were concealed in Mr. Savage’s premises; but upon search being made this was found not to be the case.

There was a meeting of the Association in the evening, at the Mechanic’s Institute; of which Mr. Birch was Chairman. He made a long speech, exhorting those present to persevere in their resistance to the taxes, but not to commit illegal violence. A deputation from the Westminster Association attended, and was received with loud cheers. The room was much crowded till the meeting broke up.

The issue of The Spectator included this note, which, in part at least, seems to have been quoting from the London Times:

On , the parochial authorities of Marylebone attempted to make a seizure of the goods of a cow-keeper, in Upper Park Street, Dorset Square, for arrears of taxes. A mob of persons, about four hundred in number, soon collected; and the driver of the van intended for the conveyance of the goods deemed it prudent to drive off. The parochial authorities were locked out of the house, and they found it impossible to make the seizure.

Thirteen persons were selected in the Holborn district who had refused to pay Assessed Taxes, and who had made themselves the most prominent as members of associations to resist payment. Of the thirteen, five paid their taxes, costs, and poundage, on being applied to, and three promised at once to pay. Levies were made upon four, and no evidence of any inability to pay was visible in any of the houses. One of these was a Mr. Stephen White, a chemist, and keeper of a twopenny-post-office in Lamb’s Conduit Street. The demand upon him was under 10l. He stated that he had pawned his watch to pay the last taxes, and refused to pay. The house was well furnished; and the Sheriffs proposed to take some books from a book-case full of books in his back-parlour, as the least inconvenient to him. He begged them to leave the books and to take his bed; that his wife was not up, but that he would set her out of bed for the purpose. This, the Sheriffs very properly declined, and the matter ended by their taking a washing-stand. If the Sheriffs had accepted the offer of the husband, no doubt we should have had a pathetic story of a bed remorselessly torn by the ruffians of the law from under a delicate and interesting lady, in an infirm state of health.

The next account in my archives, also from The Spectator, comes from , and so may very well represent a different campaign against a different “assessed taxes” with a different grievance (it comes from an article about a meeting of “the anti-Corn-law Conference”):

In the Bradford Club it was proposed to resolve, that “since Government had stopped the supplies of the people, and refused relief to their distress, it was time to stop the supplies of the Government”; but that resolution was postponed, to see how the House of Commons would deal with the measure. A meeting of ladies, held at the Manchester Bazaar on , recorded their resolution–

We, the undersigned ladies of the Bazaar Committee, resolve that we will form ourselves into a provisional committee to carry out a plan of passive resistance, and for forwarding such other measures as the Conference at present sitting in London may deem best, for the obtaining the total and immediate repeal of the Corn and Provision laws. By passive resistance we understand that we will allow our furniture to be seized for the payment of Assessed Taxes without offering any resistance to the collecting-officers, urging the people not to purchase the articles so seized; and we further mean abstinence from the several taxed luxuries annexed to our names. We adopt the above pledge for three months; and further pledge ourselves during that time to use our utmost exertions to preserve perfect peace among the people.

Mr. Hume addressed the meeting at considerable length. The plan of agitation which he proposed was this—

Let them bring the subject forward in every town and village; let every man come forward and assist in the object; and let them not satisfy themselves with a simple meeting, but let every man get up and record his aye or no with respect to the principle of this taxation.

Mr. Hume urged the Whigs to take the opportunity of coming forward and joining the people; “Let them demand the repeal of these laws — no holding back, no fixed duty, but a total and immediate repeal.” He cautioned the meeting against adopting any resolution to resist taxation, for it might be illegal; but he recommended them to refrain from the use of ardent spirits, which produced a revenue of 5,000,000l.; with that, the articles of beer, tobacco, sugar, and wine, placed a revenue of 20,000,000l. at the command of the people to withhold or greatly to reduce. The electors, indeed, had it all in their own power; but what was to be expected of the electoral body who had turned him out in such a town as Leeds, and had returned a Corn-law man?

[Mr. O’Connell] gave a new turn to Mr. Hume’s objection against resistance to taxation–

My friend, and the friend of every measure favourable to the extension of civil and religious freedom, says that he did not approve of the avowed combination of the Manchester ladies not to pay taxes. He is right, in point of law. A public agreement not to pay taxes is a wrong thing; such an association may be the subject of prosecution. Oh, I wish they would prosecute the Lancashire ladies; I should like to hear one of the landed aristocracy dare to talk of prosecuting the ladies of Manchester! I tell him, the ghosts of the murdered operatives, whom the laws made for his benefit have starved to death, would not terrify his class half so much as the idea of prosecuting Mrs. Brooks and the ladies associated with her.

TPL · Another Rebecca Arrested, But Which “John Jones” Is It?

One of the problems I come across in trying to make sense of the news coverage of the Rebeccaite movement is that there seems to have been a fairly small number of English surnames and given names that got parceled out to the people of Wales to use in place of their Welsh names. Nearly everybody seems to be named Jones, Lewis, Davies, Morgan, Thomas, or Williams. There are, I think, at least three or four “John Jones”es that have been mentioned so far. It’s very difficult to determine whether two news accounts are talking about the same person or about two people with the same name.

For example, in this news account, is this John Jones the same as Shoni Scyborfawr, who used that English name? But that Scyborfawr had already been jailed some time before (see ), so it seems that this must be a different John Jones. Maybe it was just very stale news, but it comes from the same paper that reported on captive Shoni Scyborfawr’s examination before the magistrates the week before. Very confusing. From the Cambrian:

Arrest and Committal of one of the Principal Rebecca Leaders of Carmarthenshire.

On , Jones, the Llandovery Police-officer, accompanied by four of the Metropolitan Police, arrested one of the principal leaders of the Rebecca gang, named John Jones, a farmer, residing at Danygarn, near Llangadock. He was taken into custody under a warrant granted by David Jones Lewis and Lewis Lewis, Esqs., for sending a letter to Mr. Thomas Williams, auctioneer, threatening to deprive him of his life, unless he gave up the title deeds of a small farm he had purchased of John Jones. Amongst other threats which this letter, signed “Rebecca,” contained, one was, that, unless her demand was peremptorily obeyed, Mr. Williams should he dealt with much worse than she had dealt with the Rev. Mr. Jones, of Llansadwrn, and warning him to prepare a place for his soul, as she would take care of his body. As the evidence, which was very clear against John Jones, will soon be before the public, we need not enter into any particulars, further than to state that he was , at Llandovery, fully committed to take his trial at the next gaol delivery. He was afterwards sent in custody of the police, and accompanied by an escort of Dragoons, to Carmarthen gaol. Jones is the seventh person connected with Rebeccaism that has been committed by the Magistrates at Llandovery within the last fortnight, and the activity displayed in the capture of these misguided men, has caused a complete revulsion of public feeling. Becca’s vengeance is no longer dreaded, and the farmers are often heard to express the old adage, that “evil doings have wretched endings.”

TPL · Spanish War Tax Resisters Tally Up Their Actions

Some tax resistance news from here and there:

TPL · Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers Unite to Discuss War Taxes

In 1978, representatives from the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers met at Green Lake, Wisconsin, and issued a joint “New Call to Peacemaking” that promoted war tax resistance. Also: some confusion about upcoming Rebeccaite criminal trials.

Continue reading at The Picket Line …

TPL · War Resisters Give Away Their Taxes as Bus Fare

An article about anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the Central Michigan Life included this note:

Dimes taped to a card stating, “Taxes for buses, not for bombs,” were passed out to 1,000 subway commuters by the Philadelphia War Tax Resistance.

From the Cambrian:

Exemption of Lime from Toll

, the Committee appointed at the meeting of the Neath Turnpike Trustees (reported in our last page) for the purpose of taking into consideration the expediency of exempting lime from the payment of tolls, and the best means of carrying the measure into effect, held a sitting. Being a Comnnttee Meeting, the proceedings, of course, were private, but we understand, that all the Trustees present were most anxious to come to an arrangement with Mr. Bullin, the lessee, for the purpose of exempting lime. At the close of the sitting of the Committee, the Trustees held their adjourned meeting, which adopted and confirmed the following resolutions, which were passed by the Committee:–

That Mr. Rowland, the treasurer, be requested to advance the sum of 66l. 12s. 4d. to pay the list of bills delivered against the Neath Turnpike Trust, left in arrear by Robert Alford, the late surveyor, the said bills having been examined and allowed this day by the Committee appointed for this purpose — and that Mr. Rowland also be requested to advance the money required to pay the interest due to the bondholders to the , and also the money required for current expenses.

That a bond be given to Mr. Rees Williams, of Aberpergwm, for 312l. 11s. 3d., and to Mr. W. Williams, of Aberpergwm. for 72l. 3s. 6d. for limestone supplied , and that such bonds bear date .

That from and after , no toll be taken for lime carried along the turnpike roads of this district for the purpose of manure, and that a sum not exceeding 10l. be allowed in the account of Thomas Bullin, the contractor of tolls, for the above exemption, , when the tolls of this Trust will be re-let.

This course must prove satisfactory to the farmers of the neighbourhood who use lime as their principal manure.

I have found some hints of a tax rebellion in “Indian Territory” (now Oklahoma) in , but most of what I’ve been able to dig up comes from a newspaper — the Indian Chieftain — that took a stand against the rebellion and had to defend itself in its editorial columns, so I’m getting a skewed view on what was going on.

Apparently, cattle farmers in the Territory had been refusing to pay their Cherokee Nation taxes into the U.S. Department of the Interior, and had refused some $50,000 dollars by the time the controversy hit the paper. The Chieftain came out against the resisters, and the resisters tried to organize a boycott of the paper in response. “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” goes the saying, but they heeded it not, and the Chieftain devoted many columns to its frequently repetitive denunciations of the boycotters, and to reprinting those of sister papers.

The Indian Chieftain Boycott. First National Bank Espouses the Cowmen’s Unjust Cause — The Resolution. Whereas, it has come to the knowledge of the directors of the First National Bank that certain articles have recently appeared in a newspaper known as The Indian Chieftain reflecting on the honor and integrity of a large part of the stockholders of this bank and also urging the officers of the United States to enter upon a course of unjustifiable hostility toward a large part of the stock holders of this bank [i.e., the cattlemen], and it appears that the attacks and insinuations made therein are uncalled for and unwarranted and made out of a spirit of malice, therefore be it resolved, by the directors of this bank, that this bank do not further patronize said paper, and that the executive officers of this bank be instructed to withdraw all advertisements and that hereafter to have all printing necessary for the bank done by persons other than those interested in or connected with said Indian Chieftain. Passed October 13, 1899

To hear the Chieftain and its allies make the case, the cattle ranchers were largely out-of-state people trying to take advantage of weak law enforcement in tribal areas and hoping they could get free pastureland and that the U.S. government would not bother to try to enforce the per-head cattle royalty against them. Free riders, essentially.

TPL · Soldiers Scour Wales as Rebecca’s Attacks Continue

From the Monmouthshire Merlin:


 — The presence of a military force in almost every nook and village in the county, as well as a number of the metropolitan police force, has not, it would seem, effectually daunted Rebecca and her daughters, who still continue, though not so extensively, yet with the same determination of purpose, of destroying turnpike gates, and wreaking out their vengeance on those whom they suppose are hostile to their illegal proceedings. In my last communication, I intimated to you that an attack had been made on the house of Rice P. Beynon, Esq., of Saint Clears, . The party, consisting of between two and three hundred persons, fired into that gentleman’s bedroom, and threw several large stones through the window of the bed-room adjoining. Eleven slugs were found in different parts of Mr. Beynon’s bed-room. After the destruction of the gate, the party deeming it advisable to have an occupier of the toll-house of their own choosing, proceeded with horns and guns to the house of a labouring man of the name of James Thomas, who some time ago lost an arm by an accident, and consequently became chargeable to the parish, and knocking loudly at his door, aroused the inmates. His wife, evidently much alarmed, was the first to answer the summons. The Rebeccaites told her there was no cause for apprehension, for they came as friends, and thinking she and her husband had suffered long enough from poverty, they had provided for them a better dwelling, and were come to convey them to it. Remonstrance was in vain, and they soon packed up the furniture and effects in the house, and placed it in a cart they had brought with them for the purpose; and having made the man and his wife get in also, they carried them to the Bwlchtrap toll-house, which has been unoccupied some time, and there deposited their load and passengers, and formally installed them in possession of the premises, requiring of them only, that they should remain there, and not take toll of any one. They then left their bewildered tenant to settle himself in his new habitation, and returned in the direction of Saint Clears, and left the following notice affixed to Mr. Beynon’s door, which you will perceive, relates to the proceedings I have just detailed:–

I beg that Rebecca Gav Posesion to James John, of the House that was formerly Belong to Pulltrap Gate, and if any Person will come and Throw him out, Rebecca will, and her Children will, remember him in Future Time. The First will come that there shall be drag between 4 horses. — Rebecca and her Children.

The following day a similar notice, with the sum of 4d, was placed under the door of the crier of Bethlehem chapel, in the neighbourhood, with a note, commanding him to publish it in the usual manner, on , James Thomas and his wife stiil remain in possession of the premises. They profess to have no knowledge whatever of the parties who committed the outrage, and no clue has yet been afforded for their detection. , Mr. Frederick Kynaston, of Blaenycorse, a very respectable gentleman, received a threatening letter.

On , six persons were apprehended by the London police, charged, on the information of one Richard Williams, with having, on , with divers evil-disposed persons, unlawfully and maliciously thrown down, levelled, and otherwise destroyed, a certain turnpike toll-house, the property of the trustees of the Three Commons district of roads. Three of the prisoners, John Jones, William Jones, and Thomas Jones, are respectable young men in their sphere of life, and sons of a stone mason, residing near the village of Llanddarog, in the county of Carmarthen. Another prisoner, named Seth Morgan, is a servant man on the farm of Llwynshinkin. Thomas Harry, also a prisoner is a servant at Llwynmawr; and Henry Williams, apprehended on the same charge, is servant at the Saxe Coburg public-house, in Porthyrhyd, and distant about twenty yards from the gate in question. The “certain turnpike toll-house” ambiguously referred to in the warrant of commitment is no less than the Porthyrhyd gate, an account of the second destruction of which appeared, at considerable length, in the Swansea Journal. The information laid against the six persons apprehended is of a very questionable character, and is supposed to have been induced by the tempting reward offered by the government for the apprehension of the Rebeccaites. The informer, R. Williams, was tried at the last quarter sessions for this borough, on a charge of obtaining money under false pretences but was acquitted on an informality in the indictment, the learned Recorder then making the following observations, which appeared in your last Journal — “although the case is made out in fact, yet the indictment is bad on the face of it. The prisoner must consequently be acquitted, as in the case of his conviction, no sentence can be pronounced by the court.”

I am also informed that, on the statement of the same Richard Williams, warrants are issued against several other persons, whose apprehension is hourly expected. — From a Correspondent of the Swansea Journal.

There are now at least 150 of the London police in the disturbed parts of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, and Cardiganshire. As we stated last week would be the case, they have been stationed, with small companies of foot soldiers, under the command of non-commissioned officers, in all the villages and small towns throughout the country, and thus a system of surveillance is kept up. There are police and soldiers at Pontyberem, Llanelly, Llanbedie, Llandilo, Llandissil, Tregaron, Llangendeirne, Llandefeilog, Kidwelly, Conwil, Pontarcothy, Porthrhyd, Brechfa, Llansawel, Llanfihangel, Llanbyther, Narberth, St. Clears, Laugharne, and, in fact, at all the small towns throughout the country. The 76th Foot has furnished men to accompany the police, and from six to ten of the infantry are stationed in each town or village with the police. The expense to the county of having all these here, is, we understand, no less than six hundred pounds per month. — Welshman.


This little town has lately been excited by symptoms of rather an alarming nature — no less than the society of sixteen policemen and twenty soldiers have taken up their position here. It has been generally reported that Rebecca has signified her intension of attacking the college, but, however true this may be, it is very certain some policemen are on the patrol every night; all is consequently tranquil. There is a large meeting to be held on Mynydd Oseyn, on Monday week, a mountain within two miles of this town, and it is anticipated it will be something of consequence, as a numerous body have desired the lord-lieutenant of the county to be present on the occasion. — Swansea Journal.

TPL · Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Holds Special War Tax Resistance Session

Excerpts from the Swarthmore Phoenix give us a peek at how the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was addressing war tax resistance at that time:

Tax Refusals, Reparations Draw Quakers to Philadelphia Meeting

The Religious Society of Friends will hold a special Yearly Meeting Session at the Arch Street Meeting House . The Philadelphia assembly, usually scheduled for March, is taking place in October because of the significance and immediacy of the agenda.

The morning session, convening at 10 a.m. will concern the “drafting of money” for war purposes. The Friends believe that tax refusals [sic] is plausible and important manner of dealing with militarism. A great many people support youth in its refusal to fight on battlefields it did not create. A great many people should be ready to withhold money. The Friends believe that “the functions related to war have become the main pre-occupation of our government” while “social needs are given lower priority.” The Friends hope to gather support in their objection to the use of their tax dollars for military purposes.

Quotes from the report by the committee planning the special session, arguments against tax refusal are as follows:

  • Refusal to pay taxes would be anarchy.
  • The government will collect the taxes, plus interest, and thus get more money.
  • The government will not be hurt by such a form of protest.
  • The war will get first claim on all money, and thus make less for social causes.
  • The tax refuser denies money for worthy civilian activities.
  • Anything less than total tax refusal is insignificant.

It was noted that although these arguments are valid, they are far overshadowed by moral reasons for refusal to pay war taxes.

Phone tax resistance was for a long time a staple of the American war tax resistance movement, and is still practiced today. But an Associated Press dispatch from tells of an American phone tax resister with a more idiosyncratic motivation:

Housewife Says Telephone is No Sin — Refuses to Pay Tax

 — An attractive housewife here says the telephone is neither a luxury nor a sin and shouldn’t be taxed as such by the state of Michigan.

Gloria J. Mead says she won’t pay the recent 4 percent increase in the state’s use tax on telephones. “It isn’t right,” she insists, adding, “I feel like carrying this thing all the way to the death house, if necessary.”

The penalty isn’t that bad, however. The law says anyone failing to pay is subject to a maximum fine of $5,000 or a year in jail or both. But a deputy attorney, Leon Cohan, said he doubted the mother of four will ever go to jail, although he points out that is up to the discretion of the court.

  1. “I didn’t have a state senator in Lansing when the tax was passed and wasn’t represented.” (Her senator had resigned to take a seat in Congress and the State Senate seat was vacant when the tax was passed ).
  2. “I don’t consider a telephone a luxury or a sin. If it is either, why is the telephone company called a utility and put under the Michigan Public Service Commission?”

The tax, which averages about 50 cents a month, was imposed as part of a package of so-called nuisance taxes on cigarets, beer, liquor and corporation franchise fees.

The phone company says, “It is our practice not to take enforcement action against a customer if the charges for telephone service are paid.”

But Michigan Bell reported the case to State Revenue Commissioner Clarence Lick. He says, “Our next step will be to decide whether we’re going to proceed against Mrs. Mead or hold the company liable.”

Mrs. Mead quoted her husband, Marvin, as saying, “Dear, it’s going to be expensive paying for all these things you believe in.”

She said she hopes no one thinks unkindly of her stand.

“They told me not to be apathetic about government, so I’m not.”

Gloria J. Mead enters and exits the newspaper archives on this date in 1962. I haven’t yet found any record of what became of her and her protest.