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The History of Taxation

History of Liberty Seminar 2001

Tags Legal SystemTaxes and SpendingPolitical Theory

03/01/2004Charles Adams

Charles Adams is a rare tax historian who leads us back to Greeks and Romans and the history of liberty. The Battle of Marathon was critical for Greek civilization to seize control of Western Civilization. The Greeks had no direct taxation, just indirect. This is what fostered liberty.


Romans destroyed liberty just in order to make their tax system work. Tax systems became spy systems, destroying liberty. The nation became the prison. Americans have gone through many anti-tax revolutions. An income tax – a direct tax- is despotic. Any taxation is an evil. In 1775, Burke wrote that the fierce notion of liberty is stronger in the colonies than anywhere and it centered on taxes. We lost this attitude through the seduction of socialism. The history of tax is the history of liberty.


In 1894 the US passed the first income tax law. It was ruled an unconstitutional direct tax. The 16th Amendment permitted the tax. If the Greeks were right, our liberty is in trouble.

From the 2001 History of Liberty seminar.


Charles Adams

Charles Adams (1930-2013) was an attorney and specialist in international taxation. He wrote extensively on taxes and their impact on civilization, for outlets including the New York TimesWashington Post, and Wall Street Journal. He was also an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute and the Cato Institute. Among other books he was the author of For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization​.

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