This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
The following is a statement of the national debt of each of the nations mentioned: —
The following table, which we take from the " Financial Reformer" (British), is more impressive than any statements we could make in regard to the expenses of the war system in England, and the small 'proportion required for the civil department of the government: —
From 1834 to 1861 inclusive (nineteen years) the
total expenditure was.........£1,125,689,474
Another important point to be noticed in relation to the war expenditures of European nations is, that they have been constantly increasing, and at a fearful rate.
The increase of taxation in England between 1863 and 1865 was fifteen millions sterling per annum over the previous decade.
The cost of the army, navy, and ordnance combined, in 1835, was less than twelve millions; in 1850, it was fifteen millions; in 1861, it had increased to thirty millions sterling. Mr. Gladstone stated in 1861, that "the total expenditure (imperial and local) had grown nearly twenty million pounds in the space of seven years; and that, taking the annual savings of the country of £50,000,000, the whole interest of eight years' accumulation was absorbed and swallowed up in this expenditure."
Mr. Laing, Ex-Finance-Ministcr of India, in a late lecture, said that "the national debt of France had, in ten years, increased £150,000,000, while that of Austria and Italy had increased £68,000,000. Spain was at its wits' end to make both ends meet; while Turkey was knocking at the doors of every banker in Europe, ready to accept any thing from any body who was ready to lend them, on any terms. . . . During the last ten years, there had been an extra expenditure of £300,000,000, incurred by two great European wars; £300,000,000 more added by minor wars and an armed peace."
Mr. Gladstone has made the following statement, — "that, between the years 1842 and 1853, the income of the wealth of this country (Great Britain) was at the rate of twelve, and that her expenditures were at the rate of 8|, per cent; while, between 1853 and 1859, the national wealth grew at the rate of 16½, while the national expenditure was at the rate of 58, per cent."
Such, then, is the condition, not only of England, but of all the European powers; and the United States of America are now to be placed on the same level. All have an immense indebtedness, the interest upon which consumes a large part of their current revenue. Each finds its annual budget increasing at a fearful rate; each finds itself obliged, under the present competition in armaments, to expend an increasing sum, from year to year, for warlike preparations by land and sea.
These facts should be kept distinctly in mind, when we look at the economic bearings of the war system of the present day; and it should, moreover, be remembered, that they apply generally to that system as it existed prior to the civil war between the American States. But that conflict greatly changed the war system of the world: it perhaps would not be extravagant to say, that it revolutionized naval warfare. In November, 1861, the British Government had, in process of building, fifty-four steamships of war, with a tonnage 95,855, with 10,930-horse power, and 1,254 guns. On the 8th of March following, the Confederate ram "Merrimack" appeared in Hampton Roads, and in a few minutes, with its formidable prow, sent to the bottom the "Congress" and the "Cumberland," two of the finest vessels in the navy of the United States, and demonstrated that, in the future, no reliance could be made upon wooden vessels in naval warfare. This great fact disposed of "wooden walls" On the next day, the "Monitor," with her turret, entered the Roads, engaged the "Merrimack," and she, in her turn, fell before a new and still more powerful enginery. Iron sides were no sufficient protection against the turret. This was the second important fact; and, together, they turned the whole current of preparation for naval warfare in a new, ay and much more costly, direction.