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More Mighty Than the Waves of the Sea: Toilers, Tariffs, and the Income Tax Movement, 1880-1913

Labor History, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 165-198, May 2004

IU Law-Bloomington Research Paper No. 15

Posted: 25 Aug 2005  

Date Written: August 2005

Abstract

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, K34

Suggested Citation

Mehrotra, Ajay K., More Mighty Than the Waves of the Sea: Toilers, Tariffs, and the Income Tax Movement, 1880-1913 (August 2005). Labor History, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 165-198, May 2004; IU Law-Bloomington Research Paper No. 15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=562947

Ajay Mehrotra (Contact Author)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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