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Feb 03
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Taxation Without Self Government is Subjection. - mlw?
Statehood
DC's Political Status Examined: Struggle for Equality in the District of Columbia E-mail

Mark David Richards discusses the political status of American citizens who live in Washington, District of Columbia, compared to Americans who live in the fifty states. This has been a hometown favorite for two centuries.  DC’s indeterminate political status and lack of political equality is and has been “the elephant in the room” that is admired, abhorred, and sometimes ignored altogether.  Equal rights are a DC dream, some would say a delusion, others impossibility, but the historical record shows that it has been a very long-term goal.

 

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May 13 Council Hearing on D.C. History and Statehood and Voting Rights E-mail

The D.C. Council's Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination held a public hearing on the history of the District of Columbia and its impact on the attainment of voting rights and statehood on May 13, 2009.

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'Miz Murray' led the way for many E-mail

Statehood activist Anise Jenkins of Stand Up! for Democracy remembers Loree Harris Murray, a D.C. activist and leader who died March 27, 2009. Her reminiscences were published in The Washington Times on May 3, 2009.

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Timeline - 212 Years of the District of Columbia's Efforts to Restore Self-Government E-mail

The residents of what is now the District of Columbia lost their full democratic rights to self-government and a government of, by and for the people over 200 years ago.  Ever since then, they have been demanding that Congress restore the full rights of American citizenship to residents of our national capital.

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What Taxation Without Representation Really Means by Sam Smith E-mail
CITY DESK
The Progressive Review
Feb 11 2007
Editor: Sam Smith
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WHAT TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION REALLY MEANS

Sam Smith

In 1775 Patrick Henry stood up in the Virginia House of Burgesses and said, "Give me liberty, or give me death." A version of this sentiment would later be delivered as a toast written by General John Stark of New Hampshire for a Revolutionary War veteran's reunion in 1809: "Live free or die." Stark, as a young man, had been captured by the Indians who made him run the gauntlet. He did so using a long pole with which he attacked Indians swinging at him with sticks, allegedly yelling "I will kiss all your women," although the phrase may have been slightly bowdlerized by timid historians. The Indians eventually tired of Stark and accepted a ransom of $103 to get rid of him. By the time of the veteran's reunion, Stark was 81 and too infirm to attend, but he wrote a letter telling his former comrades that they had "taught the enemies of liberty that undisciplined freemen are superior to veteran slaves..."

Noting that "the lamp of life is almost spent," and that he will remember them "until I go to the country from whence no traveler returns. I must soon receive marching orders," Stark closes with, "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils." In 1945 the phrase will become the state motto of New Hampshire and later placed on NH license plates.

The colonial capital of Washington has placed part of another motto on its license plates - "Taxation Without Representation" - but as is often the case in this fair city, it has both the history and the politics wrong.

The politics are wrong because DC's lack of congressional representation is far less critical to its well-being than its lack of self-government. Even with congressional representation, the Senate would still get to decide not only the city's budget and tax rates, but all manner of other matters including who gets to have an abortion and whether popular referenda will be observed. The colony of Algeria, for example, had representation in the French National Assembly but decided to go for liberty or death as the more workable alternative. Over the years, each time that DC citizens have begun agitating for equal status with other Americans, the local establishment has come up with another drive for congressional representation.

Unfortunately, a good many decent hearted citizens of DC are fooled by the representation diversion, and go around with a slogan on their car that few realize actually was a concern of the pre-revolutionary mercantile class, but was soon replaced by the more far reaching and vigorous sentiments of people like Patrick Henry.

The slogan stemmed from a major complaint of the business and upper classes against the British crown. Historian Gary Nash found by studying tax lists that 5 percent of Boston's citizens controlled close to half the city's wealth. It was this group that both Nash and Howard Zinn say were most affected by the Stamp Act. Much like corporate mantras of today, such as "free markets," the "no taxation" slogan has gained a currency far broader than its applicability.

While New England businessmen were seeking representation in the English parliament, Henry was speaking of the right of the Virginia legislature to approve its own taxes. In other words, Henry was taking the side of full democracy rather than accepting insignificant representation in a national legislature that still held plenary powers over Virginia. It is this critical distinction that current use of the phrase "taxation without representation" obscures.

Besides, Henry, who was described once as "a Quaker in religion but the very Devil in politics" had more immediate concerns, such as the removal of gun powder from the local magazine by the royal governor. Henry used his speech to help organize the militias to get the powder back.

In fact, there are relatively few contemporaneous references to the phrase "no taxation without representation." It appears to have been first raised by James Otis in 1764 and then appears in a few pamphlets between 1765 and 1768. But in the latter year came a far more important document, a letter circulated by John Hancock and a few others calling on citizens to assemble at a town meeting. It stated "Taxes equally detrimental to the Commercial interests of the Parent Country and her Colonies, are imposed upon the People, without their Consent." In other words, representation was no longer the issue, but rather self-government. The town meeting was held at Faneuil Hall over five days, with 96 towns involved.

By the time the Declaration of Independence was written, America had come cleanly down on the side of full democracy as opposed to mere representation. The only mention of taxes in the Declaration of Independence attacks the crown for "imposing taxes on us without our consent," something Congress can still do even if it grants DC representation within its hallowed halls. Meanwhile, residents of the capital colony drive around paying unintentional honor to the somewhat self-serving desires of Boston's pre-revolutionary elite instead of the demands for true liberty offered by the likes of Patrick Henry and John Stark.

[Reprinted from an edition around the time the license plates were first introduced]

 
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