At the close of the eighteenth century it was generally believed that the previous rise in expenditures would cease, and a gradual lowering was even expected and hoped for. That period marked the overthrow of the old monarchical regime, with its lavish expenditures for the courts of the rulers. The introduction of constitutionalism was expected to materially lessen the cost of military support, which had been mounting rapidly, and which had become particularly burdensome. It was considered, too, that the citizenship, which at that time was almost entirely agricultural, must necessarily be freed from some of the tax burdens they had been attempting to bear, in order that they could again secure a foothold and provide the necessary increase in production. The old mercantilistic idea of government was rapidly losing ground, and the laissez-faire policy was being substituted. That government which governed least was, in the future, to be considered best, and this would entail the retraction rather than expansion of government activities.
This line of reasoning, however, proved ill founded, and public expenditures have continued to increase. While government activities decreased in some lines, the resulting decrease in expenditure was more than offset by expenditures for increased activity in new lines of enterprise. Commerce and industry soon took ranks of importance with agriculture, and more revenue could easily be secured with no increase in burden. All this was an impetus to an extended activity on the part of the state. It will be profitable to note some of the aspects of the continual increase in public expenditures.