Taxes and Politics (Proseminar in United States History)

History 103D.003

Fall 2016
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Thu 12-2P

Why are taxes so complicated? Are they as complicated as they seem? Who really pays them? Who doesn't? And, perhaps most important, how are these decisions made? What is the history of American income taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, inheritance taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, and the rest? And, most generally, what does the tax structure of a society tell us about it? This seminar will examine the literature about the history of taxation, mainly in the United States, and think about taxes in relation to more general political, economic, and even cultural history. Readings will include some works by economists, sociologists, and political scientists, as well as historians, since tax history has always been a thoroughly interdisciplinary conversation. Requirements include active participation in discussion and three essays (two brief ones during the semester and a more sustained final paper). The brief essays will involve oral reports ton the common readings for particular weeks plus some supplementary reading. The final essay, on a topic of your choice related to U.S. tax history, will develop a proposal for a 101 thesis, either to jump-start your own future 101, or just to learn the form of a 101 proposal.

Course Books

The Permanent Tax Revolt by Martin, Isaac Stanford University Press. ISBN: 978-0804758710 Required
American Tax Resisters by Huret, Romain Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-0674281370 Required
Paradise Lost by Peter Schrag University of California Press. ISBN: 0-520-24387-0 Required
Taxing America by Zelizer, Julian Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0-521-79544-3 Required
The Hidden Welfare State by Howard, Christopher Princeton University Press. ISBN: 0-691-00529-X Required
The Limits of Symbolic Reform by Leff, Mark Cambridge U. ISBN: 0-521-52124-6 Required
Taxing Women by McCaffery, Edward University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 0-226-55558-5 Required
American Taxation American Slavery by Einhorn, Robin University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0-226-19488-2 Required
Taxes in America by Burman, Leonard and Slemrod, Joel Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0199890262 Required
Their Fair Share by Thorndike, Joseph Urban Institute Press. ISBN: 978-0877667711 Required
The Tea Party and the Making of Modern Conservatism by Skocpol, Theda, and Williamson, Vanessa Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0199975549 Required