Almost exactly 200 years ago, the British House of Commons rejected a peacetime income tax. Henry Brougham, a Whig member of Parliament, mobilized public opinion against the tax, and after a raucous debate in the Commons, his side won by 37 votes. This revolt against the government that had led Britain to victory over Napoleon barely a year before, and the government’s response, marked an important turning point. It shows that Britain’s path to military and economic preeminence in the 19th century was far from smooth, for this was a time of social upheaval and political conflict. Taxation became a flashpoint for controversy.
March 11, 2016