More Mighty Than the Waves of the Sea: Toilers, Tariffs, and the Income Tax Movement, 1880-1913
Ajay K. Mehrotra
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Labor History, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 165-198, May 2004
IU Law-Bloomington Research Paper No. 15
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the progressive income tax gradually came to dominate the U.S. system of public finance. The move to a direct and progressive tax regime had it roots in the social movements of the time period. This article examines organized labor's attitudes towards taxation at the turn of the century. It explores the pivotal role that members of the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor played in facilitating this historic shift in U.S. tax policy. By examining what national leaders and rank-and-file members of organized labor said and did about taxation, this article contends that the American labor movement played a significant - though halting - part in helping establish a fairer and more effective, modern system of taxation.
Keywords: Legal history, labor history, Gilded Age and Progressive Era, income tax, tax policy
JEL Classification: N32, H25, K34Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 25, 2005
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