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Introduction to Taxation in Colonial America
[Taxation in Colonial America]

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  • Alvin Rabushka

    (Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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    Abstract

    Taxation in Colonial America examines life in the thirteen original American colonies through the revealing lens of the taxes levied on and by the colonists. Spanning the turbulent years from the founding of the Jamestown settlement to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Alvin Rabushka provides the definitive history of taxation in the colonial era, and sets it against the backdrop of enormous economic, political, and social upheaval in the colonies and Europe. Rabushka shows how the colonists strove to minimize, avoid, and evade British and local taxation, and how they used tax incentives to foster settlement. He describes the systems of public finance they created to reduce taxation, and reveals how they gained control over taxes through elected representatives in colonial legislatures. Rabushka takes a comprehensive look at the external taxes imposed on the colonists by Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as internal direct taxes like poll and income taxes. He examines indirect taxes like duties and tonnage fees, as well as county and town taxes, church and education taxes, bounties, and other charges. He links the types and amounts of taxes with the means of payment--be it gold coins, agricultural commodities, wampum, or furs--and he compares tax systems and burdens among the colonies and with Britain. This book brings the colonial period to life in all its rich complexity, and shows how colonial attitudes toward taxation offer a unique window into the causes of the revolution.

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This chapter was published in: Alvin Rabushka , , pages , 2008.

    This item is provided by Princeton University Press in its series Introductory Chapters with number 8658-1.

    Handle: RePEc:pup:chapts:8658-1

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    Web page: http://press.princeton.edu

    Related research

    Keywords: taxation; Colonial America; public finance; political revolution;

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    Cited by:
    1. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "American Incomes before and after the Revolution," NBER Working Papers 17211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Chronic Specie Scarcity and Efficient Barter: The Problem of Maintaining an Outside Money Supply in British Colonial America," NBER Working Papers 18099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Solving the Colonial Monetary Puzzle: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," NBER Working Papers 19903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Richard M. Bird, 2013. "Foreign Advice and Tax Policy in Developing Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1307, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    5. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Is Paper Money just Paper Money/ Experimentation and Local Variation in the Fiat Paper Monies Issued by the Colonial Government of British North America, 1690-1775: Part I," Working Papers 12-07, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    6. Farley Grubb, 2011. "The Continental Dollar: Initial Design, Ideal Performance, and the Credibility of Congressional Commitment," NBER Working Papers 17276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Farley Grubb, 2014. "Colonial New Jersey's Paper Money Regime, 1709-1775: A Forensic Accounting Reconstruction of the Data," Working Papers 14-05, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    8. Farley Grubb, 2011. "State Redemption of the Continental Dollar, 1779-1790," Working Papers 11-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    9. Richard M. Bird, 2012. "Taxation and Development: What Have We Learned from Fifty Years of Research?," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1202, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    10. Farley Grubb, 2013. "The Continental Dollar: How the American Revolution was Financed with Paper Money—Chapter 3 Initial Design and Idea Performance," Working Papers 13-10, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    11. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Explaining the Value of Colonial Paper Money: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," Working Papers 14-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.

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