On Monday, July 4th, 2016, America celebrated its 240th year since the 13 colonies claimed independence from England. Across the country, many celebrated this historic event with picnics, beach getaways, fireworks, and maybe the Boston Pops in honor of “Sweet Land of Liberty”.
Although this modern day celebration has only been an official federal holiday since the early 1940’s, colonists held parades and fired canons in accompaniment to the reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Describing how Independence Day should be celebrated in a letter to his wife, John Adams depicted “pomp and parade with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations”. Considering an estimated 43 million people traveled, 150 million hot dogs were consumed, and over 300 million dollars’ worth of imported fireworks were watched, President Adams remains invariably accurate.
Interestingly, one of the chief complaints of the colonists against the British government was unfair taxation! It wasn’t that they didn’t want to pay taxes, they were still British citizens prior to 1776, but they didn’t want to pay taxes without a seat in Parliament. Since the British government refused and Americans realized they had no say in their own government or what taxes would be levied upon them, the battle cry of “No taxation without representation”, the Revolutionary War, and the history of taxation in the United States were born.
Although the origination of American taxation on individuals is generally cited in the 16th Amendment, its history goes back even farther to 1861 to fund Civil War efforts. Over many years, several versions of revenue income tax acts were enacted and repealed until Congress finally enacted an income tax in October 1913 that is still a contributor to present century taxation. Despite the plethora of other taxes such as estate, payroll, alternate minimum, and capital gains taxes that American’s pay today, Tennessee is currently one of seven states that still don’t have a state income tax.
In the spirt of 1776, American’s continue to show a great deal of tradition in support of their political freedom. Familiar activities like playing patriotic music during a hometown parade and displaying the American flag with fireworks overhead, Independence Day is a long-standing tradition to give thanks in honor of the positive aspects of the United States.
Keep your eye on the grand old flag!
By Susan Amsler
July 7, 2016
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