Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/157

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1895.



PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D. C. L.,
CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

I.—THE COMPARATIVELY RECENT TAX EXPERIENCES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

BEFORE passing to the detailed consideration under proper and consecutive subdivisions of the above subject, the writer thinks it expedient to outline briefly the exceptional circumstances under which his studies and investigations have been prosecuted; inasmuch, as apart from any expectation of consequent intelligent criticism on his conclusions, a somewhat personal narration may help to a better popular understanding of a great chapter in the nation's fiscal experience, which, although without a parallel in all history, has thus far received scant notice and little appreciation on the part of economic writers and historians.

His first connection with economic and fiscal questions of public import was through the publication, at the darkest financial period of the war—1864—of the results of an inquiry into the resources and prospective debt-paying ability of the United States, and bearing the title of Our Burden and Our Strength. This essay, although first printed privately, was reprinted and circulated by the Loyal Publication Society of New York, and, receiving the approbation of the Government, became one of the current publications of the war period. Reprinted in different sections of the country by loyal citizens, and also in repeated instances in England, translated into French and German, it attained a very large circulation; in excess of two hundred thousand copies. Coming also at a period when the nation was beginning to be alarmed at the magnitude and prospective increase of its