The Taxing Case of the Cows
A True Story about Suffrage
By Iris Van Rynbach and Pegi Deitz Shea; Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Clarion Books, 2010
In 1869, two sisters, in their 70s, refuse to pay taxes without representation and successfully bring the issue to the public’s attention.
In 1869 when the male town leaders decided they needed more money, they chose to collect an unfair share from the two single female landowners only. The Smith sisters, both in their seventies, fought it. They argued that they should have the right to vote on a decision that affected them, but the leaders ignored them. Afraid they might lose their farm, they paid, but they began a public battle that lasted for yeas and captured America’s attention.
In subsequent years, they refused to pay. Their cows were taken and sold at auction, but the townspeople bid cheaply, and allowed the sisters to purchase them back. Each year the sisters demanded representation.
The Boston Daily Advertiser wrote: “Two Connecticut women are just now doing a mightier work on behalf of their sex than all the rest of the country.” The Springfield Republican of Massachusetts asked: “Is taxation without representation, which was wrong in Boston in 1774, right at Glastonbury in 1874?”
Although the Smith sisters did not live to see the right for women to vote, they were instrumental in bringing the issue to the public’s attention. This books is excellent in sharing a story about women’s suffrage and making it accessible, as well as compelling, to young readers.