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J. Ray (The Mail, 7/14) criticized Arion Berger’s review of The Patriot (“The Promise Keeper,” 6/30) for failing to mention “the real issue surrounding the American Revolution, that of taxes.” “The Revolting Truth,” by the Canadian Malcolm Gladwell (Washington Post, 7/4/93), looks at the American Revolution from a Canadian and British perspective, and it mainly deals with the tax issue.
Gladwell reveals that the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Tea Act of 1773, which helped inspire the American Revolution, not to mention the Boston Tea Party, were tax cuts—and were opposed primarily by molasses and tea smugglers. There is no pleasing some people.
Gladwell also pointed out that the average American colonist paid 6 pence a year in taxes, as opposed to 25 shillings, or 300 pence, for the average British taxpayer. Nor were the Americans willing to pay one penny for the 7,500 British soldiers needed to protect them from the Indians.
In addition to tax evasion, stiffing creditors was a motivation for the American Revolution. Gladwell points out that the Virginia tobacco planters wanted to avoid paying 2 million to 3 million pounds to British creditors. He quotes George Mason, who told Patrick Henry: “‘If we now have to pay the debts due to British merchants, what have we been fighting for all this while?’”