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A Hercules in the CradleWar, Money, and the American State, 1783-1867$
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Max M. Edling

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226181578

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226181608.001.0001

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The Soul of Government: Creating an American Fiscal Regime

The Soul of Government: Creating an American Fiscal Regime

(p.50) Chapter Two The Soul of Government: Creating an American Fiscal Regime
A Hercules in the Cradle

Max M. Edling

University of Chicago Press

In the years after the War of Independence the United States was in dire financial straits. The attempt to service the public debt run up during the war generated much hardship but little money to the national treasury. With the adoption of the Constitution and the ensuing creation of the federal government this situation changed rapidly. The first Congress adopted a tax reform that fundamentally transformed the American fiscal regime. Chapter two analyzes this reform, which consisted in three moves: first, a change from indirect to direct rule in the administration of taxation; second, an inversion of the fiscal structure by which customs duties were substituted for direct taxes as the main source of fiscal revenue; and third, a considerable increase in the productivity of the impost, and thereby a considerable increase in the overall tax income of the federal government.

Keywords:   administration of taxation, customs duties, direct taxes, federal government, first federal Congress, fiscal regime, fiscal structure, tax reform, United States

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