Cover

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TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I could not have written this book without the support of many people and agencies. University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor James C. Mohr has made the transition with me from graduate advisor to colleague and friend. His unwavering support and encouragement for this...

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Introduction: CORPORATE STATES AND JEFFERSONIAN REPUBLICS

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pp. 1-11

Americans have always argued about what government should do in their lives. Two of the most contentious issues have been the powers of government to give and to take away. From the Boston Tea Party to the property tax revolts of the 1970s and 1990s, Americans have tried to limit government’s ability...

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ONE: Compromise, Corruption, and Confrontation: TAX REFORM IN THE 1870S

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pp. 12-24

The crisis of the property tax began in the economic and political maelstrom of the 1870s. Many Americans blamed the decade’s economic turmoil— including a stock market crash, a severe depression, and violent railroad strikes—on the misdeeds of big money. The Panic of 1873, for example, started...

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TWO: Progress, Bit by Bit: SCHOOL AND INSANE ASYLUM SPENDING, 1880 TO 1900

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pp. 25-38

The railroad tax revolt of the 1880s deprived average Californians of the most significant service offered by local government in nineteenth-century America. “In many of the counties,” the controller declared, “the public schools were closed for want of funds.”1 In most states, city and county school systems...

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THREE: From Charter-Mongering to Catching Corporate Freeloaders: CORPORATION TAXES, 1880 TO 1907

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pp. 39-51

For old-school tax reformers such as David Wells, the years from 1880 to 1907 were one long nightmare. All he had asked for in 1871 was a rational system for taxation of stocks and bonds—preferably a system that offered generous breaks for his friends in business. What he got instead was an age...

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FOUR: The Second Era of Internal Improvements: TRANSPORTATION SPENDING, 1890 TO 1929

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pp. 52-63

In the 1890s, while public schools and state insane asylums slowly expanded, a handful of bicycle enthusiasts began a political movement that would grow into the most expensive public service the American states had ever seen. Along the way, these “wheelmen” were joined by the automobile industry, highway...

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FIVE: Consent, Control, and Centralization: SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL SPENDING, 1900 TO 1929

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pp. 64-76

As horses and buggies gave way to automobiles and graded gravel roads replaced wagon-wheel ruts, less visible but equally important changes were transforming public education and mental health care. Twentieth-century progress demanded more than the simple goal of free elementary education for...

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SIX: Giants of History: INCOME AND GASOLINE TAXATION, 1907 TO 1929

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pp. 77-91

By 1907, governor Curtis Guild Jr. of Massachusetts was not the only state official with a cash-flow problem. Rising costs of city and county government continued to plague New Yorkers.1 In California, as late as 1902, the state legislature had deliberately levied an insufficient property tax to cover the state’s...

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SEVEN: The Test of Democracy: CONTROLLING SPENDING IN THE CORPORATE STATE, 1907 TO 1929

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pp. 92-106

In 1906, a year before E. R. A. Seligman helped found the National Tax Association, he was already well known as a tax expert, not only for his academic publications but for his work on the 1899 Ford franchise tax bill. In addition to his teaching duties at Columbia University, Seligman was serving on...

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Conclusion: THE PRICE OF PROGRESS

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pp. 107-113

"When his local chamber of commerce first appointed a tax committee . . . [the average businessman] was taunted good-naturedly by economists and political scientists and told that he would not dare to touch schools and roads.” That was the story according to Morris Edwards of the United States Chamber...

Appendix

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pp. 115-133

Notes

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pp. 135-154

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Essay on Methods and Sources

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pp. 155-162

In this exploration of state fiscal history, I have relied on quantitative and qualitative evidence. The best sources of quantitative data on state spending are annual or biennial reports of state financial officers. There typically are two such officials: the treasurer and the auditor (also known as the controller or...

Index

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pp. 163-188