American Dream

Patriots’ Day: How Taxation Led to Revolution

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If you are from Massachusetts, Maine, or Wisconsin, you have most likely heard of Patriots’ Day. The holiday is recognized in those three states to commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution. Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday of April, even though the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, which launched the American Revolutionary War, occurred on April 19, 1775. The day is commonly celebrated with parades, reenactments, and ceremonies.

Taxation Without Representation: A Short History Lesson

Prior to the Revolutionary War, American colonists were frustrated with the myriad of unfair taxes imposed on them by the British Parliament. The Sugar Act, for example, levied high taxes when the colonists bought sugar from the West Indies, which forced the colonists to buy sugar from Britain. The Stamp Act was an attempt by the British government to tax newspapers, pamphlets, and any legal documents the colonists printed. And the Tea Act was put in place to bail out the failing British East India Company. The colonists believed they were being forced to financially support Britain through these taxes.

In 1773, colonists protested what they deemed was “taxation without representation” as they threw British tea into Boston harbor. After this major act of resistance, the British considered Massachusetts to be in open rebellion. On the night of April 18, 1775, British troops set off from Boston to nearby Concord to seize the colonists’ supply of weapons. In the early morning of April 19, they encountered 77 colonial militiamen in Lexington. The British troops shot and killed eight militiamen that morning.

When the Redcoats reached Concord later that same day, they met 2,000 colonists who were prepared for them. The British fired first, which is now known as the “shot heard ’round the world.” The colonists then started to intensely fire back, causing the Redcoats to retreat. The American Revolution had begun and would last until 1783.

Remembering the Founding Fathers’ Beliefs Today

Taxes have had a profound impact on American history as this story illustrates. And today, state taxes are still far too high for many Americans. For instance, all but nine U.S. states have state income taxes in addition to federal income taxes. Some of those states offer a flat rate, meaning that there is one tax rate for all levels of income, and others have a progressive system in place: the more you make, the more your tax liability.

On Patriots’ Day, Americans remember the effect that taxes once had on a young country. If you want to celebrate Patriots’ Day, you can visit Lexington and Concord and the Minute Man National Historical Park on the third Monday of April or the weekend preceding that day. Discuss with your friends and family the meaning of this day and the effect it had on the birth of our nation. Additionally, be sure to reflect on the taxes you pay today, where those funds go, and how your state’s personal income tax rate compares with other U.S. states.