The Fiscal Origins of American Power: Federal Tax Policy and US Territorial Expansion in the Nineteenth Century

27 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

In this working paper, I argue that United States (US) territory quadrupled within the first three generations since 1789 because, in the nineteenth century, the US developed a fiscal-military state capable of mobilizing considerable resources without provoking any major tax rebellion. Relying on indirect taxes—customs duties and excises—meant that the federal government could draw on a stable and uncontentious stream of revenue. This fiscal capacity allowed the US government to finance different methods of its territorial expansion, including warfare and purchase.

Keywords: US federal tax policy; indirect taxation; customs duties; excises; fiscalization; fiscal-military state; US territorial expansion; financial history.

Suggested Citation

Woźniakowski, Tomasz P., The Fiscal Origins of American Power: Federal Tax Policy and US Territorial Expansion in the Nineteenth Century (December 2020). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2020/103, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763955

Tomasz P. Woźniakowski (Contact Author)

Hertie School of Governance ( email )

Friedrichstraße 180
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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