Bachelor tax flopped |

Bachelor tax flopped

Willa SoncartyFrontier DiaryGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyGlenwood Springs attorney Arthur Beardsley was 42 years old when he married for the first time in 1902. Had he remained single, his marital status could have been subject to a bachelor tax proposed by the Colorado Legislature in February 1903. So alarming was the proposed tax that a lobbying group was formed against the bill. The proposed tax never passed.

“They ought to tax the old maids, too.” – Bon L. Cress, Eagle County A reluctant Colorado Sen. Edward T. Taylor delivered some serious news to his unmarried male constituents. It was news targeting the chosen marital status, as well as the wallet of every Colorado bachelor. It was news he understood would be greeted with disdain.The date was February 1903. One of Taylor’s colleagues, Colorado Rep. Slawson of Pueblo, had introduced legislation levying a $50 per year tax on every “old bachelor” in the state. Influenced by a group called the Amalgamated Association of Old Maids, Slawson’s bill placed the revenues of this new “bachelor tax” into a newly-established school fund. This fund was a structured pension plan benefiting female teachers who had dedicated 25 or more years to the instruction of Colorado’s children. Because school teachers were required to be unmarried during their tenure (and therefore deprived of the ability to have a family of their own) bill drafters felt teachers deserved compensation for their sacrifices. Somehow bachelors, also without families, were the group targeted to support the teachers.House Bill No. 235 immediately met resistance. The Bachelors’ Association of the Roaring Fork in Carbondale sent a protest letter to Taylor. They put forth several arguments. First, the association pointed out, the bill would force unmarried men to flee the state, depriving Colorado of a virtuous and enterprising class. Second, the bachelors felt that importing labor to the state was economically better than these men producing and raising children to fill the jobs. Third, the men further argued, “We (for many years) have adopted manners and customs in our cozy cabins that might shock the more sensitive nerves of the fair sex … That by reason of long lives of celibacy we have lost the art of wooing and winning, and for other reasons we cannot mention are entirely unable and unfitted to enter into the marriage relation … and that the burden of a tax of $50 on each bachelor would be unjust, when many members of this association have ‘large families of dogs to support.'”While the Roaring Fork bachelors urged Taylor to remember his own idyllic days of bachelorhood, Eagle County bachelors joined a lobbying group to halt the bill. By mid-March 1903, the “bachelor tax” bill was dead. And Colorado’s virtuous single men remained.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.

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