A permanent wound: How the slave tax warped Alabama finances

Taxes on slaves weren't limited to Alabama. In a 2003 article, Boston University School of Law professor Kevin Outterson wrote that the slave tax brought in anywhere from 30 percent of public revenues to (in South Carolina) 60 percent. The federal government levied slave taxes from 1798 to 1802, and again from 1813 to 1817, both times to pay for war.
“From colonial times to the Civil War, American governments derived more revenues from slave taxes than any other source,” Outterson wrote.
Head tax on enslaved people was key to state revenue before the Civil War -- and…