In American Taxation, American Slavery, Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on America’s fear and loathing of taxes. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong and democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. Einhorn reveals how the 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, she exposes the antidemocratic origins of the enduringly popular Jeffersonian rhetoric about weak government, showing that state governments were actually more democratic—and 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.
“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
“[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 agreat 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