« PreviousContinue »
privates; we should make out a total of $45,000,000 a year for the above items alone! Add the cost of splendid regimentals, and fine clothes, and standards, and music, and cavalry, and artillery, and arsenals, and magazines, and the incidental destruction of property, and all the injury arising from the suspension and derangement of business, and vices contracted on such occasions; and we shall not wonder, that one of our ablest and most candid writers (Hon. William Jay,) should have reckoned “ the yearly aggregate expense of our militia,” even when their whole number was only 1,500,000, “not much, if any short of fifty millions!” At this rate, the present number of our militia would cost us more than $66,000,000 a year; but, if we deduct even one half of this sum, and then add our yearly expenditure of eighteen millions for the army and navy, we should make the expense of our own war-system more than fifty millions a year in a time of profound peace!
We boast of our pacific policy and habits; yet war has ever been the burden of our national expenses. In 1817, our war expenses were about nine times as large as those for all other purposes. To give some details, we expended, in 1832, for civil offices, $1,800,758; for intercourse with foreign nations, $325,181 ; for miscellaneous objects, $2,451,203 ;. for the army, $5,446,035 ; for the naval service, $3,956,320; for revolutionary pensions, a war charge, $1,057,121 ; for various other pensions, $127,301 ; for the Indian department, $1,352,420; for the national debt, the fruit of our last war, $17,840,309; in all, more than thirty millions and a half in one form or another for war, seventeen times as much as for the whole civil list, and about ten times as much as for all the other purposes of our government! From 1791 to 1832, a period of forty-one years, the aggregate of our expenditures, with some two years and a half of actual war, was $842,250,891; and of this sum at least eight-ninths were for war-purposes, and merely $37,158,047, or about one twenty-third part of the whole, for the civil list; one dollar for the support of government, to twenty-three dollars for war! During our revolutionary struggle, we borrowed of France $7,962,959, expended from our own resources $135,193,703, and issued of paper money $359,547,027; in all, $502,703,689, besides an indefinite amount of contributions from individuals and states. From 1816 to 1834, eighteen years, our national expenses amounted to $463,915,756 ; and of this sum, nearly four hundred millions went in one way and another for war, and only sixty-four millions for all other objects ! Here then we have, even in a time of peace, twenty-two millions a year for war, and about three millions and a half, less than one-sixth of the whole, for the peaceful operations of a government that plumes itself on its pacific policy! If we take into account all the expenses and all the losses of war to this country, it will be found to have wasted for us, in sixty years, some two or three thousand millions of dollars !!
But look at the direct expenses of war. A single firstrate ship of the line is supposed to cost us, in active service, full half a million of dollars a year; and the number of war-ships in Christendom, though few of the first class, has been estimated at more than two thousand. Our last war, though cheap in comparison with most wars, required simply for its prosecution more than fifty millions a year. England expended in our revolutionary war nearly $700,000,000, the wars consequent on the French Revolution, cost her more than $5,000,000,000; and the wars of all Christendom, even of Europe alone, from 1793 to 1815, a period of only twenty-two years, wasted barely for their support, some $15,000,000,000 ;-a sum so far beyond all ordinary calculation or conception, that a person, beginning at the birth of our Savior, and counting thirty a minute for twelve hours every day, would not finish the whole even at the close of the present century !
Take from an English writer a glimpse of England's expenditures for some of her great wars. From 1688 to 1815, a period of 127 years, she spent sixty-five in war, two more than in peace. The war of 1688 continued nine years, and increased her expenditures $180,000,000. Then came the war of the Spanish succession, and absorbed in eleven years more than $300,000,000. Next was the Spanish war of 1739, which cost in nine years $270,000,000. Then came the seven years' war of 1756, in the course of which England spent $560,000,000. The next was the American war of 1775, which lasted eight years, and cost $680,000,000. The French Revolutionary war of nine years from 1793, occasioned an expenditure of $2,320,000,000. During the war against Bonaparte from 1803 to 1815, England raised by taxes $3,855,000,000, and by loans $1,940,000,000; in all, $5,795,000,000, or an average of $1,323,082 every day, and more than a million of it for war-purposes alone! In the war of 1688, she borrowed $100,000,000; in the war of the Spanish succession, $ 162,500,000; in the Spanish war, $145,000,000; in the Seven Years' war, $300,000,000; in the American war, $520,000,000; in the French Revolutionary war, $1,005,000,000. During seven wars, lasting in all sixty-five years, she borrowed $4,170,000,000, and raised by taxes $5,949,000,000; making a total expenditure of $10,115,000,000!* It has been estimated, that England spent about ten thousand millions merely in wars undertaken first to humble the Bourbons, and then to restore them to the throne which Napoleon had usurped.
Glance at the financial history of such a warlike nation as England, and mark the unbounded prodigality of war. Her average revenue during the reign of the Norman kings, was £300,000; under the Plantagenets, or Saxon line, £133,017; under the house of Lancaster, only £80,026; during that of York, £100,000; under that of Tudor, £510,000. During the entire reign of George I., there came into the treasury of Great Britain only £79,832,160, or a very little more than in the single year of 1815; during that of his successor, £217,217,301, of which he spent £157,000,000 in three wars; and during that of George III., there was expended no less than £1,386,268,446, more than $6,000,000,000, three times as much as all the coin on the globe at the time of its greatest abundance in 1809. From 1797 to 1817, twenty years, England borrowed $2,160,000,000, and raised by taxes $6,192,866,066; in all, $8,352,866,066, or an average for the twenty years of $1,143,444 every day, and more than a million of this for war!
War has loaded all Europe with debts. It is impossible to ascertain their precise amount; but in 1829, that of Prussia was said to be $133,000,000; that of Russia, $ 158,000,000; that of Spain, $315,000,000; that of Austria, $351,000,000; that of Netherlands, $668,000,000; that of France, $874,000,000; while that of England in 1815 was $4,395,000,000. We do not know how nearly the above sums exhibit the present war-debts of these countries; but the sum total now resting on rope alone, cannot be much, if any, less than ten thousand millions of dollars, or five times as much as all the coin in the world!
What a maelstrom to engulph the riches of the world ! All the public property of England was estimated in 1833
* We have here multiplied pounds by five to turn them into dollars; a little more than their real value.
at £138,715,571, less than one-sixth part of her war-debt ; and her entire resources, private as well as public, were reckoned the same year at £5,547,484,517, only a little more than six times as much as her debt in 1815. Its interest alone, if left to accumulate, would in the lapse of a few ages, consume her whole wealth. Her war-expenses even in peace would in less than seventy years exhaust all her property at home, and consume in one century all her resources over the globe ! If we consider all the ways, direct and indirect, in which the war-system destroys property, it will be found even in peace to waste for Europe alone nearly two thousand millions every year, and we should be quite moderate in putting the sum total at fifteen hundred millions !
How much, then, must war have wasted in five thousand years over the whole earth! Look back to the time when it was the all-absorbing business of nations, every other pursuit its handmaid, and intervals of peace only resting-pla to recruit for this work of blood; imagine one-eighth, in some cases one-fifth and even one-fourth part of the population to be soldiers, all trained to war as the leading object of their life; think of Bacchus and Sesostris with millions of warriors at their heels; of Ninus and Semiramis with two millions of soldiers, and more than ten thousand armed chariots; of Cyrus and Cambyses, of Alexander and Cæsar, with their ferocious successors; of Turks and Tartars, Saracens and Crusaders; of Tamerlane, and Jenghiz-khan, and Napoleon ; conceive these countless millions of robbers, marauders and incendiaries, not merely consuming for their own support an amount altogether incalculable, but burning villages and cities, laying waste empires, and ravaging the whole earth age after age with fire and sword; and it would seem a low estimate to suppose, that the entire course of war has wasted fifty times as much as all the property now on the globe!!
But for this curse of curses, what a world might ours have been! Give it back all the property that war has cost, and prevented, and destroyed from the first; and the bare interest would suffice ere-long to make the whole earth a second Eden; to build a palace for every one of her nobles, and provide luxuries for all her now famished and suffering poor; to spread over the entire surface of our globe a complete net-work of canals and rail-ways; to beautify every one of her cities, beyond all ancient or modern example, with works of art and genius; to support all her governments, and give a church to every village, a school to every neighborhood, and a Bible to every family.
Take an estimate or two. With the eighteen millions a year from our own treasury for war, or the fifty millions more from the pockets of the people for our militia system, how much good might be done in a multitude of ways. Eighteen millions !—this alone is more than twice the original cost of the Great Western Canal from Albany to Buffalo, which has added hundreds of millions to the value of our western country; three or four times as much as our whole population pay yearly for the support of the gospel at home, and nearly a hundred times as much as the average amount of annual contributions from all the Christians in our land, the last thirty years, for evangelizing the world! What then might have been accomplished for the good of mankind by the hundreds and even thousands of millions wasted by
ourselves upon this custom during and since our revoluI tionary war!
Glance at all Christendom. The bare interest at five per cent. on her entire war-debt would be $500,000,000 a year; and with this sum we might every year make a railway nearly round the globe, or pay the necessary expenses of all its governments without war, or support a minister of the gospel for every five hundred of its inhabitants ! Take the fifteen hundred millions annually wasted in time of peace; and, in fifty years, it would suffice to make, at $30,000 a mile, no less than 2,500,000 miles of rail-road ; enough to encircle the globe more than a hundred times !!
Would to God that the lessons taught by fifty centuries of blood, might be duly impressed at length upon a warring world! Take them, ye heralds of the cross, and proclaim them aloud to the multitudes that hang upon your lips. Let the press send them forth on the wings of steam all over the earth. Ponder them well, ye who hold the helm of state. Come hither, ye millions of oppressed and starving poor, come, and learn the chief cause of your woes. Ye are all the victims of war. His brand is on your brow; his manacles on your limbs; the blight of his withering curse upon all your pursuits and interests. It is the master-tyrant of our world; and every one that loves God or his country, his species or himself, should unite to sweep from the earth a despotism so bloody and baleful.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.