Letter to Charles Adams

By John "Birdman" Bryant



Dear Mr Adams:

As a long-time fan of yours and one who greatly appreciates your knowledge of the history of taxation, I thought you would be interested in a major unresolved problem which relates to American tax history, and in particular to a matter you have written about. More specifically, is it true that a significant cause of the American Revolution was that the Bank of England required Americans to use the Bank's currency in place of their own local currencies? I have heard this in several places, and in more than one version. Here is one, found at



So in 1764 the British Parliament, at the urging of the financiers who controlled the Bank of England, outlawed the issuance of paper currency by the colonial legislatures. This act of tyranny is rarely mentioned in textbooks, but it was the ensuing contraction of the currency resulting in economic depression that was viewed by Benjamin Franklin and others as the main cause of the American Revolution.


In contrast to this 'Franklin version', Murray Rothbard makes what is in effect a detailed refutation of the Franklin view by asserting that the colonies caused their own economic distress by inflating their own currencies. As you can see from the attachments, both the Franklin and Rothbard versions of events seem well-documented and believable, so the question is, Which one is right, or is the truth somewhere in between? While this question is not exactly about taxes, which is your forte, it does relate to your theory -- the commonly-held one -- that it was taxes which were the fundamental cause of the revolution, and that is why I think you ought to look into it.


John 'Birdman' Bryant (www.thebirdman.org; john@thebirdman.org)



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