Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Irony of the Tariff

This may annoy some people no end:
Before the Civil War, federal taxation was almost completely synonymous with the tariff. . . . [T]he historical origin of the tariff lay in a separate issue. In addition to its administrative and economic characteristics, a tax on imports offered a political advantage over other forms of taxation. Congress could design a tax on imports without talking about slavery. The irony here is extraordinary. The tax that southerners would resent and resist so famously – because it forced them to subsidize northern industry – originated in a political accommodation to slavery during the Revolution.

Robin L. Einhorn, American Taxation, American Slavery (University of Chicago Press 2006), at 117.

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