What would modern news-blog coverage of the American Civil War have been like?
I have been following the Civil War Daily Gazette, a site which is chronicling day by day the events of the American Civil War 150 years after the fact. If you are interested in history, add this great blog to your RSS feed reader, make yourself a WDTPRS mug of piping hot Mystic Monk Coffee, and check each morning.
Yesterday we read about the anniversary of the institution of … wait for it… personal income tax! I missed it yesterday because I have been having some intermittent internet problems.
Monday, August 5, 1861
In the hallowed halls of the Federal Congress, Washington DC legislators established the nation’s first personal income tax. Any United States citizen with an income of more than $800 a year was required to tithe 3% to the Federal Government. An income tax had been attempted before, during the War of 1812, but the war ended before the tax act could go into effect.
The Revenue Act of 1861 mostly concerned itself with customs duties. It also levied a direct tax of $20,000,000 upon the states. Each state had to come up with a certain amount to be paid to the Federal Government. Pennsylvania, for example, was required to pay $1,946,719.33, while Oregon was to muster $35,140.66. Even states that had seceded were taxed. As the Union Army advanced, the tax would be collected. Most loyal states simply absorbed the tax into their budget.
The Act was to go into effect on January 1, 1862 and was expected to net $90,000,000 total, or roughly $4 per head from the loyal states.
Today there was a fascinating article which concerned Abraham Lincoln going to the Senate chambers to sign Senator Lyman Trumbull’s Confiscation Act, which dealt with the issue of whether slaves in service of the Confederacy who were captured were still property or contraband, or … what? What to do with them? Lincoln’s signing this bill is thought by some as as the first step in freeing the slaves.
Only 150 years ago.