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Trusting Leviathan
The Politics of Taxation in Britain, 1799–1914

  • Date Published: July 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521037488


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About the Authors
  • Professor Martin Daunton's major study of the politics of taxation in the 'long' nineteenth century examines the complex financial relationship between the state and its citizens. In 1799, taxes stood at 20 per cent of national income; by the outbreak of the First World War, they had fallen to less than half of their previous level. The process of fiscal containment resulted in a high level of trust in the financial rectitude of the government and in the equity of the tax system, contributing to the political legitimacy of the British state in the second half of the nineteenth century. As a result, the state was able to fund the massive enterprises of war and welfare in the twentieth century. Combining research with a comprehensive survey of existing knowledge, this lucid and wide-ranging book represents a major contribution to our understanding of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

    • Comprehensive and lucid exposition of taxation and political culture, and the nature of trust and compliance between state and citizenry
    • Offers a comparative study of nineteenth-century Britain in a European and imperial context
    • On the politics of taxation in this period
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This account of revenue collection across more than a century is masterly in its lucidity … [it] will pose a challenge to political and cultural historians for many years to come.' Michael Bentley, The Times Literary Supplement

    'Trusting Leviathan skilfully reinstated fiscal history centre stage in an understanding of the evolution of the British state from 1799 to 1914.' Roger Middleton, The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'Budgets and taxes have always played a central part in standard accounts of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, but this superb and masterly analysis is the first fully to explain their centrality to our understanding of the British sate in this period … Daunton's is a pioneering combination of a broad comparative understanding of the British stare and a detailed grasp of its administrative mechanisms.' Business History

    'It is rich in issues, sources, and arguments, and will occupy scholars for years to come. It is a big achievement, going well beyond the mechanics of taxation and illuminating large and unfamiliar aspects of British society and the British state. In conjunction with the second volume, already published, it now stands as the most encompassing investigation of British taxation ever.' Oxford Academic Journals

    'This is a rich and satisfying book in two respects. First, it offers a coherent and sustained treatment of taxation, embracing both technical detail and broad philosophy; it is far more than an account of various tax issues … Second, historians in others fields will be stimulated by the connections which Daunton draws between taxation and other areas of state activity in a sensitive and wide-ranging treatment of the scholarly literature. Daunton has succeeded brilliantly in examining a previously under-researched topic and making a fundamental contribution to the history of nineteenth-century Britain.' Welsh History Review

    '… a great achievement in terms of scholarship and lively interpretation … should indeed inform contemporary debates on the impact of national taxation.' Parliaments, Estates & Representation

    '… thoroughly researched and cogently argued book …' History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521037488
    • length: 456 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.688kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus. 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of figures
    List of tables
    List of abbreviations
    1. Trust, collective action and the state
    2. 'The great tax eater': the limits of the fiscal-military state, 1793–1842
    3. 'Philosophical administration and constitutional control': the emergence of the Gladstonian fiscal constitution
    4. 'A cheap purchase of future security': establishing the income tax, 1842–60
    5. 'Our real war chest': the national debt, war and empire
    6. 'The sublime rule of proportion': ability to pay and the social structure, 1842–1906
    7. 'The minimum of irritation': fiscal administration and civil society, 1842–1914
    8. 'The right of a dead hand': death and taxation
    9. 'Athenian democracy': the fiscal system and the local state, 1835–1914
    10. 'The end of our taxation tether': the limits of the Gladstonian fiscal constitution, 1894–1906
    11. 'The modern income tax': remaking the fiscal constitution, 1906–14
    12. Conclusion
    Appendix: chancellors of the Exchequer, 1841–1914

  • Author

    Martin Daunton, University of Cambridge
    Martin Daunton, FBA, is a fellow of Churchill College and professor of economic history at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700–1850 (1995), and editor of Volume III of The Cambridge Urban History of Britain (2001).

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