09 April 2015

Debt and Taxes 1780's

The Anti-Federalists by Jackson Main, 1961, Edited Excerpts

The major political controversy during the 1780’s concerned the payment of public and private debts. Congress urgently needed money to pay the army and the interest on debt. The states were having trouble supplying their troops and meeting their financial obligations and were unable to pay Congress’s requisitions.

On one side were those counties with a high concentration of property, in which the creditor group was strong. On the other side were areas in which the middle class was more powerful and the debtors more numerous. The merchant-lawyer eastern group, generally creditors, supported all measures to strengthen the Congress; the western farming group, generally debtors and termed Radical, supported few, if any, such measures.

Critics asserted that the mass of the people were being taxed to benefit the few, money was taken from the poor and given to the rich – at a time of economic depression. It is not surprising that the less well-to-do were resentful, and that many demanded some other mode of paying the debt. Americans did not have to be reminded that control over taxation was the key to power, and that it had in the past and might now again result in despotism.

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