Whatever amount is spent by the State on carrying out its three main duties it has to be raised by one means or another with ‘the people contributing a part of their own private revenue in order to make up a publick revenue to the sovereign or commonwealth’.1 In the absence of an independently wealthy sovereign, a feature of monarchy long since absent in Britain, taxation from the private revenues of the people was the main source of government revenue. Smith did not think much of the commercial prowess of sovereigns — and thought even less of the prowess of merchants, instancing those of the East India Company for particular contempt as they were ‘bad traders’ and ‘bad sovereigns’.2
KeywordsGovernment Revenue East India Company Public Revenue Moral Suasion Revenue System
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