« PreviousContinue »
does the war-system require for its support! The standing warriors of Europe are (1844) about three millions even in a time of peace, and exceeds four millions and a half in war, with large additions to meet occasional emergencies. Not a few of these millions may have been the main-springs of business; and their removal can scarcely fail to derange and cripple every one of its departments. All of them must possess an unusual share of strength for labor, since no others would be equal to the hardships of war; and the sudden abstraction of such men by thousands from every part of a country, and from every kind of employment, must paralyze the entire industry of a nation. Agriculture, trades, manufactures, all kinds of business must receive a severe and lasting shock.
Still worse is the influence of war on the habits indispensable to the thrist of a people. It mars the character necessary for the acquisition of property. It debases their minds, corrupts their morals, and undermines almost every species of excellence among them. It renders them idle, dishonest and profligate. It fills the land with persons who prey upon society like moths or gangrene. It destroys the habits needed to enrich a people, and introduces others fatally calculated to impoverish any country. It represses almost every thing good, and gives fresh and fearful activity to whatever is bad. It is a hot-bed of evils. Idleness and vagrancy, fraud, theft and robbery, the lowest vices, and the blackest crimes, are both the nurses and the offspring of war.
Such considerations as these we might pursue to almost any extent; but enough has been said to show, that all the enormous expenses of war would not equal the loss of property occasioned by the combined and permanent influence of such causes alone as we have here specified. Take an illustration. When our population was some fifteen or sixteen millions, an eminent statesman of our own estimated the annual production of the United States at $1,400,000,000, or nearly ninety dollars to each inhabitant; and, if we suppose war to prevent only one fifth of all this, the loss would be no less than $280,000,000 a year! Reckoning our present population (1844) at twenty millions, the annual sacrifice would be about' $350,000,000. But, supposing the amount of annual production to average only fifty dollars to each inhabitant, then Christendom, with a population of 250,000,000, would lose $2,500,000,000 a year; and the whole globe, with 1,000,000,000 people, would sacrifice the enormous sum of ten thousand millions !! Such a result seems incredible; and yet the calculation for our own country is probably below the truth, and may serve as a clue to the boundless waste of property by war even in ways which are generally overlooked.
II. Glance next at the immediate, incidental havoc of property by war. Such havoc must, from the nature of the case, be immense. Follow an army, ancient or modern, savage or civilized; trace the course of the French under Napoleon in Russia or Portugal, setting fire in one case to every house for one hundred and fifty miles ; look at even British troops in Spain or India; see them trampling down harvests, and burning villages, destroying towns, ravaging entire provinces, and pillaging city after city; and can you conceive the amount of property thus wasted ? Bring the case home, and say, if Boston contains property to the amount of more than one hundred millions, and New York two or three times as much, how many millions either city would lose from capture, or a close and protracted siege.
We can “ascertain more nearly, yet very imperfectly, what is destroyed on the ocean.
The sum total of our own exports and imports may have ranged, for the last ten years, from two hundred to two hundred and forty or fifty millions of dollars a year; nearly as large an amount may perhaps have been interchanged along our immense coast; and no small part of both would be liable in war to be seized by our enemies. The imports into one of our cities amounted in a single quarter of 1836, to thirty-six millions; and a war, suddenly occurring, might have found afloat on the ocean an equal amount destined to the same port, and scores of millions belonging to the whole nation. The nature of the case forbids accuracy of calculation, yet shows that commerce is liable to losses beyond the power of computation or even conjecture. Since the close of our revolutionary struggle, we have been engaged in foreign war less than three years; but it would probably require some hundreds of millions to cover all the losses we have sustained from depredations on our commerce.
Another source of loss to a nation's wealth, is found in the waste of life by war. It takes men at the very age when their labor would be most productive, and shortens their life more than twenty years in war, and some ten or fifteen in peace! The statistics of mortality among men devoted to this work of blood, are truly startling. Soldiers, though
in the bloom and vigor of life, live on an average only about three years in a time of war, and die even in peace twice as fast as galley slaves, and more rapidly than men ordinarily do at the age of fifty and sixty!
What a loss of property must such a waste of life occasion ? Let us suppose it costs an average of $500 to raise a soldier, and reckon his labor for the ten years of his life shortened in peace, and twenty years in war, at $150 a year. If the standing armies of Europe are three millions in a time of peace, she sustains, at this rate, a loss of $1,500,000,000 for their training, $450,000,000 a year for labor, and $4,500,000,000 for the shortening of their life ten years; an average in peace of $840,000,000 a year from this source alone!! Reduce these estimates one half, and
you still have, even in peace, the enormous sacrifice of $420,000,000 a year. In a time of war, the armies of Europe, when full, are supposed to be some four millions and a half; but, putting them in round numbers at four millions, the loss would be for their training $2,000,000,000, for their labor $600,000,000 a year, and for cutting short their life twenty years, $12,000,000,000 ; an average loss in war, if we suppose a soldier's life then to be only three years, of $5,266,000,000 a year!! Such a result, however incredible, comes fairly from the premises; and, should you reduce these estimates even eighty per cent., you
would still make out a loss of more than $1,000,000,000, every year of actual war from this source alone! If we extend our calculation to the five millions of persons in the army of Xerxes, to the millions of Ninus, and Semiramis, and Jenghiz-khan, to all the armies from Nimrod to the present time, we should find, from the mere waste of life, an aggregate exceeding our utmost conceptions. We have not taken into account the superior value of officers; and still the result proves the loss of property in this way alone to be much greater than all the direct expenses of war.
III. Look, then, at the actual cost of war. Even in peace, it is enormous. The amount of money wasted on fortifications and ships, on arms and ammunition, on monuments and other military demonstrations, it is impossible to calculate with precision or certainty. The expense of the wall round Paris was estimated (1840) at 250,000,000 francs, or nearly $50,000,000; a single triumphal arch in that city, only one among the hundreds scattered through Christendom, cost 10,000,000 francs; and we know not how
many millions more were expended in the pageantry of removing Napoleon's remains from St. Helena to their present resting-place. The palace of Versailles, mainly the fruit of war, is acknowledged to have cost 1,000,000,000 francs, or $200,000,000, a sum sufficient to build the whole city of New York, or four such cities as Boston. Go to Greenwich or Chelsea, and there see what immense sums are spent on the diseased, crippled and worn-out servants of war. Survey the grand arsenal of England at Woolwich, and imagine how many millions have been wasted on its twenty-seven thousand cannon, and its hundreds of thousands of small arms. Millions of dollars have been expended
some single forts in our own country; and still the highest authority assured us in 1835, that thirty millions more would hardly suffice to put our entire coast and frontiers in even a tolerable state of defence.
But the original cost of these materials of war is not the only expense they occasion ; immense sums are required every year to keep them in repair. Here lies the chief care of the war-system in peace; and, should you go through Europe, or even our own country, you would find a vast number of shops, and foundries, and ship-yards constantly at work for this purpose. This single itemy of expense cannot, for all Christendom, be less than $100,000,000 a year!
Still more expensive, however, is the maintenance of an army either in war or in peace. Thiers, the distinguished historian of France, and once a leading member of her cabinet, reckons the expense of supporting a soldier to be in Austria about $130, in France $146, in Prussia nearly $200, in England still greater; and it would be a very low estimate to suppose, that every soldier in Christendom costs an average of $150 a year. It is impossible to tell the exact number of standing warriors in Christendom; but they cannot be less, and
than 3,000,000 in peace. Aside from naval forces, the army of Spain has been 120,000, that of England 100,000, with the addition of 200,000 in war, and an indefinite number for emergencies in her eastern possessions; that of France from 350,000 to 400,000, and in 1840 even 900,000; that of Austria 750,000 in war, probably not less than 400,000 in peace; that of Russia 850,000 in peace, and reckoned by some as high as 1,000,000. If we put the peace establishment of Christendom as low as 3,000,000, and suppose them all to require for their annual support an average of only $150 each, the result would be $450,000,000 a year for their sustenance; and reckoning one officer to ten soldiers, and awarding to each of the latter an English shilling a day, or $87 a year for wages, and to the former an average salary of $500 a year, or less than six shillings a day, we should have, for the pay of the whole, no less than $385,000,000 a year, or a grand total, for both sustenance and pay, of $835,000,000!! Reckoning the annual cost of their sustenance only $100 each; and, with the paltry compensation of one shilling a day for officers as well as privates, we reach the enormous sum of $561,000,000 a year !
We cannot well conceive how much the leading nations of Europe waste upon their war-system even in peace. The annual charge of Great Britain for her war-debt alone has been some twenty-eight or thirty millions sterling a year, not less than $140,000,000 ; exceeding, by more than onethird, all the taxable property in the state of Ohio in 1836.
"he war-departmeat of France in 1819, a year of peace, cost twenty times as much as her whole civil list. In 1827 England paid in peace $220,000,000 for war-purposes, and for all her civil offices only one-fortieth part of that sum. In 1825, another year of peace, her entire expenses amounted to $256,000,000, more than half the wealth of the whole state of New York as estimated in 1835, while her civil list for the same year was only $4,698,000; a proportion of one to fifty-six !
Few suspect how much our own country spends upon the war-system even in peace. If we suppose our annual income for the last fifteen years to have averaged only $24,000,000, we shall find, that not less than $18,000,000 have been lavished upon our army and navy; three dollars for war to one for the peaceful operations of government ! Still more expensive in fact is our militia system. If one person in ten among us is liable to military duty, the whole number would now be nearly 2,000,000. suppose that four trainings every year are necessary to keep the system in full vigor; that the yearly expenses for equipment are only three dollars for each man, and incidental expenses barely fifty cents a day; that every training absorbs one day and a half, each worth $1.50, less than the fine usually imposed for not training ; that the number of spectators is equal to that of the soldiers, allowing to each one dollar a day for time, and fifty cents for expenses; that we officers together incur half as much expense as all the