They called them "Tax Day Tea Parties" in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party tax revolt more than 235 years ago.
About 300 people gathered in San Francisco's Civic Plaza for the 'TEA' party. TEA stands for Taxes Enough Already party.
People waved flags and signs protesting taxes imposed by President Obama. Others protested Nancy Pelosi and Congress.
There was police presence at an event in San Jose. Police told ABC7 News that at the height of the rally, there were about 2,000 people and some police officers were sporting riot gear.
A crowd in Pleasanton mirrored the symbolism and sentiments expressed at rallies across the nation.
"The more taxes we have to pay, the less freedom we have," said Tamara Schirrmacher from Alameda.
"I don't even get half my paycheck, it goes to taxes and for what?" said one protester.
Many signs spoke directly to President Obama, who had his own message about the income tax cuts he promised, delivered and went into effect April 1st.
"Make no mistake. This tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets," said President Obama.
The people who showed up for these rallies though brought a broader message, protesting government spending, bailouts, and what many critics see as a move toward socialism.
"We can't sit back anymore and let the government tell us what to do and get bigger and raise our taxes, we can't afford it anymore," said Diane Cancilla from Manteca.
The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are quick to point out that much of the $11 trillion debt was inherited and so too was an economy in shambles.
"It's worth remembering that when Bill Clinton left office, we were running a surplus and George Bush ran it into a ditch. We're going to get out of that ditch but not in one year," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) San Jose.
Wednesday's rallies were promoted by conservative radio talk shows and Internet bloggers, who hit a nerve among voters who lost in November.
"The message is the silent majority is finally out and we're making a point about taxation about what we think is happening to the country and it's great to see all these people kind of rallying around the cause, the conservative cause," said John Mitchell from Fremont.
The vice chair of the Republican Party told ABC7 News that it had no role in organizing the Pleasanton or San Jose event, although the media point person for the San Francisco rally was with the local Republican Party.
Conservatives are planning another nationwide event on July 4th.
People on the left marked tax day by voicing their outrage over military spending.
The American Friends Committee and United for Peace and Justice handed out cards at San Francisco BART stations, urging President Obama to cut some of the $500 billion he's proposed for the Pentagon. That's more than 20 percent of the U.S. budget.