A Founding Father’s Advice to the IRS

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While doing some work on the thought of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, I came across a remark that contemporary IRS officials might do well to ponder.  Indeed, it is fitting for all government officials to ponder.  Of course, there was no IRS in Hamilton’s day, but there were revenue collectors.  Here are some directions he gave to the captains of revenue cutters:

They will always keep in mind that their Countrymen are Freemen and as such are impatient of every thing that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit.  They will therefore refrain with the most guarded circumspection from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult.

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Perhaps some of the difficulties that the IRS has lately run into could have been avoided by internalizing the spirit expressed in those instructions.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Carson Holloway is a political scientist and the author of The Way of Life: John Paul II and the Challenge of Liberal Modernity (Baylor University Press), The Right Darwin? Evolution, Religion, and the Future of Democracy (Spence Publishing), and All Shook Up: Music, Passion and Politics (Spence Publishing), and the editor of a collection of essays entitled Magnanimity and Statesmanship (Lexington Books). His articles have appeared in the Review of Politics, Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, Perspectives on Political Science, and First Things. He is a regular contributor to the online journal The Public Discourse. Holloway was a 2005-06 William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University in 1998.

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