A reader writes:

This idea predates Lincoln. I think we can move this discussion back to the man credited with writing the Declaration of Independence:

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings," - Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811.

Another writes:

Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in October of 1785 speaking about the problems of the gap between rich and poor (and the size of the gap that he was seeing at that time in Europe).  Jefferson argued that "the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care that their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind”. Jefferson then notes that if subdividing property is not sufficient then “ to tax the higher portions of property in geometric progression as they rise” might help.

Another:

"Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual," - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784.

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