Dimensions of law in the service of order : origins of the federal income tax 1861-1913

Stanley, Robert Howard, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
McCurdy, Charles W., Department of History, University of Virginia
Holt, Michael, Department of History, University of Virginia
Harbaugh, William H., Department of History, University of Virginia

In the gap between the apparently democratic promise of income taxation and its incarnate historical reality lies a contradiction of the first order. The primary explain the purpose of this Dissertation is to existence of this contradiction through the analysis of the origins of income taxation as law in history.

The analysis proceeds from assumptions about law in history which challenge those implicit in the mainstream of American historical writing. It accepts the conclusion of the Legal Realists that specific laws have meaning only within a context which includes, but is not limited to, other legal devices. The analysis departs from Realism to add that law carries with it not only allocative impact, but also crucial symbolic consequences which connect in critical ways to larger structures of vision, value, Building upon those assumptions, the term Centrist to characterize and myth in society. this Dissertation uses the operation of the the ideology of the legal system in history and lawmakers who constituted it. Centrism included deeply held and traditional commitments to state support for enterprise, and a set of legal structures which expressed them.

It is the thesis of this Dissertation that what lawmakers shared through the Centrist system was far more important to the course of income taxation than what separated them. Because of its unique ability to address the issue of class structures in a society which was anxious about their existence, income taxation was invoked to forestall dissent against the course of Centrism during times of economic crisis. Its allocative dimension was kept negligible. The symbolic purpose of the tax was similarly constant: to persuade dissidents of the Left, the Right, or within the Center itself, of the essential fairness of the system by demonstrating its capacity to change and to address issues of concern. The analysis argues that income taxation was not used as a vehicle for the expansion of wealth and opportunity. product of the Center's efforts to Rather, as a protect itself against dissent, income taxation served as an important element in the maintenance of the traditional order.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Income tax -- United States -- History, Income tax -- Law and legislation -- United States

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

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