"No taxation without representation" has lasting appeal as a political catchphrase. But the impact of the motto is limited if it is not accompanied by striking actions or persuasive arguments. In this Note, I examine the problems that American woman suffragists encountered when they tried to put "no taxation without representation" to use, both in the realm of action and the realm of debate. In short, suffragists had difficulties committing to a widespread tax resistance strategy; they were forced to admit that the taxation argument led logically only to taxpayer suffrage, not to universal suffrage; and they struggled with resulting uncertainty over the wisdom of using "no taxation without representation" rhetoric at all. I also show how these weaknesses were mitigated, to some extent, by the introduction of the federal income tax late in the game. This Note, therefore, explains why the taxation argument was often passed over by suffragists and is rarely studied in the secondary literature, while at the same time highlighting the fascinating historical role it played, nonetheless.

 

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