Polemics & Exchanges

King George’s Tax

A few points on “Of Presidents and Guns,” by Egon Richard Tausch (Vital Signs, June).

After the French and Indian War the British crown gave George Washington some large land grants in Western Pennsylvania for his service.  The Indians (part of the Iroquois Confederation) living there didn’t think the British king had any authority to give their land to anyone and refused to vacate.  The grants came with no means of enforcement, and so things stood as they were.  By the end of the Revolutionary War many people had settled the area, dealing directly with the Indians for the land.  Washington tried to get Congress to send the Continental Army to dispossess the Indians and destroy their villages on the grounds that they had supported the British.  Congress was in no mood to start another war and refused.  Supposedly, Washington was so unpopular he couldn’t even survey the grants because several of the villages had effectively put bounties on him.  He may well have felt that those farmers were on land that should have been his and had a personal reason to go after the Pennsylvania farmers harder than the Southern ones.

After the Revolution many states had negotiated payment of their war loans at lowered rates.  Hamilton convinced Congress to federalize the debts and pay them at par.  Since...

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