Frank Garmon Jr.

Field & Specialties

American Economic and Business History, Taxation and Public Finance in the Early Republic, History of Technology


M.A. University of Virginia, Corcoran Department of History, December 2010

B.A. Christopher Newport University, Department of History, Magna Cum Laude, May 2009

Adam Smith Fellow, George Mason University, 2016-2017

Humane Studies Fellow, Institute for Humane Studies, 2016-2017

I study American economic history with an emphasis on fiscal policy, taxation, and public finances in the years following the American Revolution.

My dissertation, “The Price of Liberty’: State Taxes, Wealth, and Public Finances after the American Revolution, 1783-1815,” uses state property tax records to study the connection between taxation and wealth in the Early Republic. State governments expanded their fiscal capacity in the years following the American Revolution to deal with the massive debts incurred during the war, and crafted fiscal policy designed both to raise revenues and minimize the burden of taxation for the average taxpayer. Although largely overlooked by historians, state property tax records provide a rich source for examining changes in important economic indicators such as wealth, economic growth, inequality, social mobility, productivity, and insolvency. The data collected for this dissertation serve as the largest sample of American wealth before the Civil War.

To complete this research I have sampled the taxable wealth of more than 70,000 taxpayers from the ten most populous states between 1785 and 1815. The analysis of this data makes clear the importance of policymakers and local conditions in shaping economic outcomes. The results reveal that the distribution of wealth in the Early Republic was more unequal than many previous historians have maintained, and I have uncovered considerable regional and local variation. My research thus holds important implications for understanding regional economic development, social mobility, and patterns of wealth holding.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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