Bitter Money Fights Shaped U.S History: From “White House Burning”, a new book by Simon Johnson and James Kwak

From Bloomberg View

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison asked Congress to consider a declaration of war against Britain. The Democratic-Republican majority was happy to oblige.

Britain’s insults to the U.S. ranged from seizing its ships and forcing its sailors into the Royal Navy to supporting American Indian attacks along the Western frontier.

With war approaching, it fell to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin to figure out a way to pay for it. Gallatin hoped to borrow the money, but he wanted to raise taxes to cover the interest on the new debt. He worried that, otherwise, bond investors would be unwilling to lend large amounts of money to a young country. But the war hawks were ideologically and politically opposed to taxes — particularly the excise (internal trade) taxes that Gallatin favored.

Read the full post at Bloomberg View

More about the book in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today

MIT Sloan Prof. Simon Johnson and associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law James Kwak are authors of “13 Bankers” and co-founders of The Baseline Scenario, a blog on economic and public policy. Johnson is also a Bloomberg View columnist. This is the first of three excerpts from their new book, “White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters To You,” to be published by the Knopf Doubleday Group on April 3

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    Posted June 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

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