Slave Taxes

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Slavery was vital to the antebellum southern economy. But this article highlights the importance of slavery as a funding source for government:

Alabama's slave tax forever warped the state's finances, politics

As slavery twisted politics and society in Alabama and throughout the South, it also warped the state's finances. For decades, the slave tax was a major pillar of the state's tax system. Historians estimate that at least through the mid-1850s, the tax on the wealth created by the men, women, and children suffering exploitation -- and often, physical and sexual assaults -- was the single biggest revenue source for state government.

Taxes on slaves weren't limited to Alabama. In a 2003 article, Boston University School of Law professor Kevin Outterson wrote that the slave tax brought in anywhere from 30 percent of public revenues to, in South Carolina, 60 percent. The federal government levied slave taxes from 1798 to 1802, and again from 1813 to 1817, both times to pay for war.​

"From colonial times to the Civil War, American governments derived more revenues from slave taxes than any other source," Outterson wrote.

Click on the link for the full article. Of course we know that the end of slavery would be ruinous for the antebellum South. But this provides yet another reason why the South was so keen on protecting the institution after the election of the so-called Black Republican in 1860.

- Alan
 
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