A rare Revolutionary War-era pamphlet that criticizes Great Britain for taxing its American colonies without their consent has been discovered in a Texas college library.
Austin College archivist Justin Banks found an original copy of an essay written by Cambridge History professor John Symonds titled “Remarks Upon an Essay Intituled The History of the Colonization of the Free States of Antiquity, Applied to the Present Contest Between Great Britain and her American Colonies.”
It was printed in London in 1778, three years after the beginning of the American Revolution.
The pamphlet was donated to the college more than 20 years ago and there are only 100 known copies, one of which was found in Thomas Jefferson’s personal library.
Rome celebrated the 2,000th birthday of Emperor Vespasian over the weekend, kicking off 10 months of festivities to highlight the life of the man who help build the Colosseum.
Vespasian came to power amid great chaos in the Roman Empire, the last of four emperors who ruled Rome in a single year, 69 AD.
According to a story in The Independent about the anniversary of Vespasian’s birth, “he took drastic measures to restore sanity to the Roman Empire’s finances, which had been emptied by Nero’s extravagance.”
“He raised taxes steeply … and famously introduced a tax on public urinals, which is why in Italy they are associated with him to this day. When his son Titus remonstrated with him over this measure, the emperor held out a handful of coins for him to sniff. These come from the urinal tax, he said, “Pecunia non olet” (money has no smell).”
He taxed public urinals and did so without a shred of embarrassment. Sounds like someone who’d fit in just fine with our elected leaders today, doesn’t it?
The role of home-distilled alcohol in American history is long and colorful, and includes the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, in which civil protests in Western Pennsylvania regarding a tax on distilled spirits became an armed revolt which was eventually put down by President George Washington and 13,000 troops.
The Whiskey Rebellion started after Alexander Hamilton, always willing to wield the heavy hand of the federal government, pushed through a 25 percent excise tax on whiskey, to help pay down the national debt.
The tax was to be levied at source, which in the case of the Pennsylvania farmers was a multitude of small stills in barns and outhouses throughout the back country.
Western farmers saw the tax as another instance of rich Eastern elites bleeding hard-working poor frontiersmen, who depended on the sale of whiskey to scrape by. They distilled the spirit from grain, since the long journey across the mountains to the major markets of the east was expensive, and whiskey was much easier to transport than grain.
Distance meant that the tax would be hard to pass on to the consumer across the mountains. Also, whiskey was used in what was still largely a barter economy, almost as a form of currency.
The Whiskey Rebellion, which culminated in 1794 with about 20 individuals being rounded up, marked the first time under the new United States Constitution that the federal government used military force to exert authority over the nation’s citizens.