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The Picket Line — 14 October 2010

Now available thanks to David Gross at Anarchoblogs in English:

14 October 2010

Remember good ’ol J. Bracken Lee? Governor of Utah in the 1950s? Decided to stop paying his federal income tax because he thought the Feds were unconstitutionally spending good American taxpayer dollars on foreign projects of various sorts?

From the 14 October 1955 Sarasota Journal:

Letters Pour In Backing Governor’s Tax Stand

By Frank Wetzel

Salt Lake City (AP) — The post card from Monroe, La. to Gov. J. Bracken Lee reads:

“Two, four, six, hut—

“We want a tax cut—

“Seven, eight, nine, ten—

“We want to know when—

“We don’t want no hem or haw—

“We’re for the governor of Utah.”

The Louisiana doggerel was among more than 500 letters and cards piled across the desk today of Harold W. Simpson, Lee’s administrative assistant. Lee is a Republican.

Simpson said all but four letters praised Lee’s statement he will not pay all his income tax next year, hoping to prod the government into a suit in which he can challenge the constitutionality of using income tax funds for foreign aid.

“These letters would surprise a lot of politicians,” said Simpson. “Judging from them, I believe a nationwide referendum would go against continuing foreign aid.”

Utah Democrats have blasted Lee’s proposal. They asked the governor to either retract or resign. Lee refused to do either. State Republicans have said “No comment.”

Challenged Two

Lee’s assistant said 90 per cent of the letters came from outside Utah. Of the four opposing Lee’s stand, Simpson challenged two. He said they appeared to come from the same typewriter, although different names were typed a[t] the bottom. Both were postmarked Los Angeles.

One congratulatory message came from Vivien Kellems, a Stonington, Conn., manufacturer who in 1948 stopped withholding income taxes from employes of her cable grip firm. She contended the government couldn’t make her serve as an unpaid tax collector. The government seized $7,819 in penalties from her firm’s bank accounts, but Miss Kellems and her brother David sued and got most of that amount back.

Other letters offered to help. Several included small amounts of money to help finance Lee’s battle.

Lee declared last week he would withhold his income tax on a portion of his salary. “I shall put my tax in the bank here in Salt Lake City,” he said. “Not a dollar of it will they get until legality of this case is tested in the United States Supreme Court.”

Samples from other letters:

Boulder, Colo. — “Good for you — both for having the courage to stand up to this tax-despotic government of ours and its paid press, and for BEING RIGHT.”

Santa Ana, Calif. — “When a man of your stature comes out as you have on such a vital issue it rekindles the hopes of the American people that all is not lost and that there is still a chance.”

Houston — “I doubt if you can muster much support — the people are just too ignorant of what is going on to be impressed, but I urge you to carry on.”

The Vote

From the 14 October 1911 issue of The Vote:

Holloway: Woman's “Polling Booth.”

“We began with a Mud March; I wonder whether we shall end with one!” So said a marcher last Saturday afternoon; the relentless rain and the merciless mud gave point to the observation. Neither rain nor mud deterred the women from their protest procession long ago, nor did they have any daunting effect on Saturday in the march from Kingsway to Holloway. The change in attitude of the onlookers was extraordinary and emphasises the educative influence of such demonstrations. No word of scorn or ridicule was heard on Saturday; such words have passed; little but amazement remained, amazement at the courage shown in trying weather conditions.

Truly it was a brave show. Bands and banners lend splendid aid on such occasions, but the gratifying sight was to see the solidarity and co-operation of many societies. The Women's Tax Resistance League led the way, and were followed by the Women's Social and Political Union, the Women's Freedom League, the New Constitutional Society, and Actresses' League, the Fabian Women's Group, and, finally, the men's societies; the Men's League for Women's Suffrage, the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement, and the Men's Committee for Justice to Women. Faithful friends these, whose help is always available, and one could not help noticing that some of the men were bringing up their small sons in the way they should go! Let us hope that the boys will not have to do much more marching for the Suffrage Cause!

An hour of it! Who can describe the determination and courage needed? But we arrived, and in a very few minutes the chairman, Miss Christabel Pankhurst, was in her place on the cart, surrounded by the speakers. One's eyes were rivetted by the sight of the tall, self-possessed lady, quiet and undemonstrative, who scarcely twenty-four hours before had been inside those prison walls. The singing and the enthusiasm were to reach her in her cell, but the action of the authorities in releasing Miss Housman enabled her to be the seen instead of the unseen centre of the demonstration. Her words, too, carried great weight. Humorously she contrasted the treatment of men voters and of voteless women: agents to do everything for the men, motors to take them to the polling booth. Turning to the prison, Miss Housman exclaimed dramatically, “Holloway is woman's polling booth; it is there that I have been able to register my vote against a Government that taxes me without representation.” Only words of courtesy were heard concerning all the officials with whom Miss Housman had come into contact, and she was cheered to the echo when she declared that, glad as she was to be outside Holloway, she was ready to go back again to win the fight for the recognition of woman's citizenship. “If that great act of justice, the Conciliation Bill, fails to carry next year, there will be not merely one but hundreds of women in prison to make the nation realise that justice is not being done.” Thus spoke Mr. Laurence Housman, whose pride in his sister's devotion to the woman's Cause was shared by those who listened. Women were only doing what men had gloried in doing in times past, he added, they were struggling for constitutional liberties; women, too, had caught the spirit of democracy. Mrs. Despard, heedless of the drenching rain, made an appeal which touched the hearts of all who heard it; she rejoiced in the victory won by Miss Housman's courageous act of self-sacrifice, and said that tax resistance was drawing women together in a bond as strong as death. She laughed to scorn the idea that men had all the chivalry and clear-sightedness, women the tenderness and self-sacrifice; neither sex had a monopoly of these qualities, but she looked for the coming of the new day when man and woman should stand side by side as equals. Miss Adeline Bourne, speaking for the actresses, amused the audience by insisting that if women united in a protest such as Miss Housman had made, the Government would be powerless to deal with them. Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes, who succeeded Miss Pankhurst in the chair as soon as the resolution had been moved, gave some remarkable facts as to the predicament of the officials with regard to women tax resisters; amazing differences of treatment were recorded for the same offence, as also the practical sympathy of some who have to carry out a disagreeable duty towards women resisters.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously and with enthusiasm, ran as follows:

That this meeting, held at the gates of Holloway Gaol, congratulates Miss Clemence Housman on her refusal to pay Crown taxes without representation, a reassertion of that principle upon which our forefathers won the constitutional liberties which Englishmen now enjoy, and also upon the successful outcome of her protest. It condemns the Government's action in ordering her arrest and imprisonment as a violation of the spirit of the Constitution and of representative government; and it calls upon the Government to give votes to women before again demanding from Miss Housman or any other woman-taxpayer the payment of taxes.

Miss Housman's communication to the Home Secretary, asking for information as to a definite term of imprisonment, contains so able a statement of her point of view that it should be widely known. It runs thus:—

That she has resolved to abide by the conditions by law appointed for a woman who, lacking representation, has personally fulfilled a duty — moral, social, and constitutional — by refusing to pay taxes into irresponsible hands. But, while willing to satisfy the requirements of the law at the expense of her personal liberty to any extent, she learns that no limit has been set to these claims either by statute or by judgment, and she believes that it rests with his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department to rectify what she feels to be a grievance not intended in such a case as hers. She begs, therefore, that he will be so good as to define her term of imprisonment, and she desires this not on personal grounds only, but that, thereby, the comparative cost and value of a woman's liberty and a man's vote may be officially recorded for the understanding of others, women and men.

Also from the same issue:

A large and enthusiastic crowd listened in Hyde Park on Sunday morning to Mrs. Clarkson Swann, who explained fully the Conciliation Bill now before Parliament, and to Mrs. Emma Sproson, who has recently served six weeks in Stafford Jail for non-payment of her dog-tax.…

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