New Finds: 1862 Tax Return?

These past couple years have been such a rollercoaster of events. Some good, some bad, some I had to let go of in order to save my sanity. We didn’t expect the passing of a loved one. Sometimes it seems like family members will live forever, like an invincible dragon, blowing smoke all around to keep the threats at bay.

Then they are gone.

And the house is empty.

Except when the wind chimes jingle without a breeze, and the emotions found inside letters bubble to the surface. It’s full. It’s full of memories, sometimes my own faint ones, but never anything below the surface. As I’m allowed to go through some items to discover more about the people I thought I knew…but didn’t really, I’m finding more and more history.

Since this is all that has been on my mind aside from the Historical Novel Society Conference, I’m going to do this post on some American History closest to me.

The Hersey family apparently kept a lot of old written items, which is wonderful for a nerd like myself. I figure I will pick just one interesting piece of history to talk about today: A Tax return from 1862.

But the US didn’t start taxing until the next century, right?

Well, yes…and no. Revenue Acts of 1861, 62, and 64 all attempted to fund a nation already in millions of dollars of debt, through a civil war. The tax was let go in the 1870s due to severe backlash about the government having too much power. It’s way more complex than that, and so I’m slapping this link down so you can look into it yourself:

How much did Mr. Hersey fork over in today’s money?

He made roughly $2,002 before taxes, and that equals $53,359 today. Not bad! He’s got a farm and pays a laborer. It looks like he’s got some real estate income as well.

His payment of about $16 would be $426 today.

Why save this return for so long?

Did they know that it would be something people wanted to see later? Maybe they were so upset about taxes that they wanted to hold onto it and get angry every time they took it out? So many possibilities! At any rate, I’ve got more things to scan and stow away.

Want more random history?

Check out the other posts on the American History Blog Hop!

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