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American taxation, American slavery /
Robin Einhorn.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2006.
xii, 337 p.
0226194876 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2006.
0226194876 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Prologue : taxation without representation -- Colonial tax systems. Virginia -- Massachusetts -- Variations -- National tax politics. The origin of the tariff -- Direct taxes. The synthesis in the states -- Property taxes -- Epilogue : James Madison on slave taxes -- Appendix : how to talk about taxes.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Robin L. Einhorn is professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-09-01:
The twist in this tax history, which sifts through the same early American debates as previous accounts, is the central importance of slavery. Tax policy, at all levels of government and in all regions, was entwined with the slave debate, not only in the historic compromises over taxation and slave representation embodied in the Constitution, but extending into the design of 19th-century state and local taxation as well. As with other recent revisions of the era's history, stripping away the principled rhetoric reveals tax policy warped to accommodate slavery in order to preserve the union. At the federal level, the tariff became the mainstay of public finance, in part to avoid explicit apportioning of taxes among slave and nonslave states. At the state and local levels, regional disparities predominated. Slave states, lacking the essential grassroots democratic institutions and encumbered by high levels of violence, were incapable of implementing the sophisticated, progressive tax regimes of the North. Well into the 19th century, as regional disparities diminished, slavery continued to affect tax policy as uniformity clauses, designed to preclude punitive taxation of slavery, were embraced by northern states, unintentionally undermining tax progressivity. An interesting, if not altogether compelling, interpretation of early US taxation. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries. R. S. Hewett Drake University
Review Quotes
"A valuable entry in the growing and much-needed literature examining the exact impact that slavery had on the American state in the early republic. . . . The book aims at nothing less than revising the central story that most Americans have accepted about the growth of the national state."Matthew Mason, Journal of the Early Republic
"Einhorn has undertaken important research in archives and in secondary sources on a major set of historical problems. This book will influence the analysis of colonial and antebellum tax systems, and it raises anew some of the central issues of colonial and antebellum history. The arguments are clearly and strongly made. . . . This book deservedly will be widely read and discussed."Stanley L. Engerman, Journal of American History
"[Einhorn''s] book is a treasure chest of informaiton about taxation in the colonies and early republic. She has written her work forcefully and lucidly; it is well worth the time of anyone interested in American Studies, as well as in the culture of slavery."
"[Einhorn] scrupulously details the direct and indirect ways in which human bondage structured American taxation policies during the eighteenth century and the continued legacy of slavery for modern taxation. The result is a pathbreaking contribution to scholarship on antebellum constitutional politics. . . . This detailed study of federal and local tax policy is a remarkable easy read. American Taxation may be the most surprising page-turner of the early twenty-first century."Mark A. Graber, H-Net Book Review
"[Einhorn] tells what might have been a complicated story in an engaging and accessible manner. It is her contention that slavery and the reaction to it to a great extent shaped the kind of nation we are today, because it shaped the kind of tax policies we constructed to fund the kind of government we got. . . . Required reading for anyone who ponders the impact of slavery on our lives today." James Srodes, Washington Times
"For those seeking to understand complex and everchanging systems of taxation, their relationship to local and national politics, and how the state and local systems were shaped by the ''peculiar institution,'' this seminal and innovative investigation will provide many answers."
"For those seeking to understand complex and ever-changing systems of taxation, their relationship to local and national politics, and how the state and local systems were shaped by the 'peculiar institution,' this seminal and innovative investigation will provide many answers."Loren Schweninger, American Historical Review
"With prodigious research . . . Einhorn''s masterful narrative challenges the conventional Jeffersonian story about the Southern yeoman origins of American liberty and anti-statism. . . . A book that needs to be read by those who continue to subscribe to the resilient Jeffersonian myth that liberty and democracy require weak government."
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2007
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Bowker Data Service Summary
An original look at the role of slavery in the making of the United States, 'American Taxation, American Slavery' will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of American government and politics.
Main Description
For all the recent attention to the slaveholding of the founding fathers, we still know remarkably little about the influence of slavery on American politics. American Taxation, American Slavery tackles this problem in a new way. Rather than parsing the ideological pronouncements of charismatic slaveholders, it examines the concrete policy decisions that slaveholders and non-slaveholders made in the critical realm of taxation. The result is surprisingthat the enduring power of antigovernment rhetoric in the United States stems from the nation's history of slavery rather than its history of liberty. We are all familiar with the states' rights arguments of proslavery politicians who wanted to keep the federal government weak and decentralized. But here Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on this idea in American politics. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. American Taxation, American Slavery shows how their heated battles over taxation, the power to tax, and the distribution of tax burdens were rooted not in debates over personal liberty but rather in the rights of slaveholders to hold human beings as property. Along the way, Einhorn exposes the antidemocratic origins of the popular Jeffersonian rhetoric about weak government by showing that governments were actually more democraticand stronger where most people were free. A strikingly original look at the role of slavery in the making of the United States, American Taxation, American Slavery will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of American government and politics.
Table of Contents
List of Tables, Figures, and Mapsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Prologue: Taxation without Representationp. 11
Colonial Tax Systemsp. 24
Virginiap. 29
Massachusettsp. 53
Variationsp. 79
National Tax Politicsp. 110
The Origin of the Tariffp. 117
Direct Taxesp. 157
The Synthesis in the Statesp. 200
Property Taxesp. 207
Epilogue: James Madison on Slave Taxesp. 251
How to Talk about Taxesp. 257
Notesp. 271
Indexp. 327
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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