The Acquisitions Table: Taxation, Exactly 149 Years Ago Today

“Strike, but hear.” Homer, NY, August 16, 1862.

This broadside, found between the pages of an August 1862 issue of the Cortland County Republican newspaper, recounts the difficulties of taxation and raising bonds in the small town of Homer, NY, during the Civil War. Issued by dry good merchant (and Town Supervisor) George W. Phillips, the broadside documents the difficulties Phillips encountered when dealing with bounty payments for soldiers enlisting in local regiments. Phillips felt that the state should tax its citizens evenly to raise equivalent funds for bounties, while some Homer residents wanted to levy only enough tax to supply each soldier with a flat $50 enlistment bounty. Phillips explains his unpopular position of waiting for the state government to take action (he was accused of being unpatriotic) and the failures of earlier locally-funded bounty systems. The problem was real, and enlistment calls were often delayed as young men waited to see which towns offered the best bounties. By 1863, some New York towns offered up to $400 per soldier, making the town of Homer’s $50 bounty quite unattractive.

Gift of the Phillips Free Library, Homer, NY.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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