Acoaxet Secession, 1926

In 1926 summer residents of Westport Harbor petitioned the State to secede from Westport; they felt that they paid much in taxes but received few services and could not vote (because non-residents) on the Town budget. The Legislature kicked the matter back to the Town, and at a Town Meeting of January, 1926, the proposal was brought to the floor, elicited a good deal of oratory, and was voted down 281-0. The people from the Harbor did not attend the meeting. The New Bedford Standard reported the event in its edition of January 19. We are indebted to Dr. Robert Brayton for the information and a copy of the paper.

The headlines read:





Westport Citizens Pack Town Hall –

Harbor Residents Accused of Unfair

Play – Accusation Unanswered

“With oratory, by vote, resolution and even poetry, Westport hastened last evening in special town meeting to show how it felt toward the proposed separation of the valuable seashore Acoaxet section. The feeling expressed was unanimous opposition to the division and willingness to do everything proper to prevent the Legislature from granting the petition of the Acoaxet residents.”

We print here the poem written for the occasion by William H. Potter and recited at the meeting. It lacks a title, but has an epigraph that sets the tone of the discussion at the meeting:

“Ill fares the land to hast’ning ills a prey

Where wealth accumulates and men decay.” Goldsmith

Right out in front of this town hall

A tablet stands tonight,

And on it is inscribed the names

Of those who fought the fight.

An aged couple close at hand

Gave all they had to give,

To protect us from German hate, —

That Democracy might live.

The service rendered by those boys

We never can repay.

How those who loved them suffered

Mere words cannot portray.

The boys received a dollar a day,

And many lost their health;

The rich man stayed at home

Engaged in doubling his wealth.

And when our lads at last came home,

Prepared to settle down,

They found the rich men ready

To take part of their town.

If actions louder speak than words,

We hear the rich man say:

“Now that the war is over

Our taxes you must pay.”

“The total cost of all our sports

is proving quite a load.

We have naught for education

Or the maintenance of roads.”

“We do not wish to spend our cash

On any poorhouse lodgers,

Instead, we’ll use it to obtain

A Mecca for tax dodgers.”

We wish to tell you that your acts

By us are not extolled –

Better think of Nebuchadnezzar

And the writing on the wall;

Then think about the One above,

Who notes the sparrow’s fall,

And endeavor to be decent –

Do not try to rob us all!