Few citizens, before the advent of the Great War, have stopped to consider that the direct or indirect expenditures for war have placed a larger burden, in the form of Federal expenditures, upon the people of the United States, than the burden has been for all other expenditures. A moment's reflection upon this statement cannot but impress upon the reader the cost of war, of its preparation and consequences, even in a country that has enjoyed as many years of peace as has the United States.

Cost of Early Wars. - The War of 1812 was, of course, the first actual experience with warfare which can be attributed to the United States. That does not mean that the early citizens were free from the burden of war, for fiscal reminders of the Revolution were ever present. Expensive Indian wars also occurred. The attempt will be made, so far as possible, to refrain from the use of burdensome statistics, yet there is no better way to show the weight of war costs during the first years of our government than to give a table of comparative expenditures for some of the early years. To arrive at war burdens the first three columns must be offset against the fourth, or compared with the total. Even this does not quite tell the story, for under the miscellaneous expenditures is included the amount which was expended for pensions as well as the civil expenditures.

Expenditures of the United States1

War of 1812 - The advent of the War of 1812 very largely increased the visible war costs. The above table extended through the War of 1812 is as follows:

1 The statistics for these early expenditures are taken from Dewey, Financial History of the United States. The figures under "War" and "Navy" are for these respective departments,

Year

War

Navy

Interest on

Debt

Miscellaneous

Total

1791.......

$ 633,000

 

$1,178,000

$1,286,000

$ 3,097,000

1794.......

2,639,000

$ 61,000

2,752,000

844,000

6,297,000

1797.......

1,039,000

382,000

3,172,000

1,414,000

6,008,000

1800.......

2,561,000

3,448,000

3,402,000

1,401,000

10,813,000

1802.......

1,179,000

915,000

4,239,000

1,642,000

7,976,000

1804.......

875,000

1,189,000

4,185,000

2,287,000

8,637,000

1806.......

1,224,000

1,649,000

3,368,000

3,206,000

9,449,000

1808.......

2,900,000

1,884,000

2,557,000

1,719,000

9,061,000

1810.......

2,294,000

1,654,000

3,163,000

1,362,000

8,474,000

1811.......

2,032,000

1,965,000

2,585,000

1,594,000

8,178,000

Year

War

Navy

Interest on

Debt

Miscellaneous

Total

1812.......

$11,817,000

$3,959,000

$2,451,000

$2,052,000

$20,280,000

1813.......

19,652,000

6,446,000

3,599,000

1,983,000

31,681,000

1814.......

20,350,000

7,311,000

4,593,000

2,465,000

34,720,000

1815.......

14,794,000

8,660,000

5,990,000

3,499,000

32,943,000

The immense increase in expenditures which a war entails is clearly illustrated from this table, even though the percentage of expenditure for the weapons of war in times of peace may be large. In the above tables it its seen that in 1811, the last year before open hostilities, the war costs were over 95 per cent of the entire expenditures. The burdens, however, did not cease with the signing of the treaty, but the outlays for war machines, the payment of interest and pensions, continued.

Peace Expenditures. - The following table, in which years are chosen rather at random from our history following the War of 1812, portrays to what extent the burden of war continued to fasten its tenons upon the citizenship of the country:

1 The expenditures listed under "War" include some items, such as appropriations for rivers and harbors, which are not strictly war costs. This would somewhat lower the percentage of war costs, yet the amount found in these items is usually comparatively small and would not change the ratio to any great extent.

Expenditures Of The United States 3 For Years Following 1921

Year

War

Navy

Pensions

Interest on

Debt

Miscellaneous

Total

1816...

$16,012,000

$3,908,000

$ 189,000

$7,823,000

$3,264,000

$31,196,000

1819...

6,506,000

3,847,000

2,415,000

5,211,000

3,530,000

21,511,000

1825... 1830...

3,659,000 4,767,000

3,049,000

3,239,000

1,308,000 1,363,000

4,366,000 1,912,000

3,472,000 3,859,000

15,856,000 15,141,000

1835...

5,759,000

3,864,000

1,954,000

57,000

5,935,000

17,537,000

1840...

7,095,000

6,113,000

2,603,000

174,000

8,326,000

24,314,000

1845...

5,746,000

6,297,000

2,400,000

1,040,000

7,450,000

22,954,000

1846...

10,413,000

6,455,000

1,811,000

842,000

7,738,000

27,261,000

1847...

35,840,000

7,900,000

1,744,000

1,119,000

8,315,000

54,920,000

1848...

27,688,000

9,408,000

1,227,000

2,390,000

6,902,000

47,618,000

1849...

14,558,000

9,786,000

1,328,000

3,565,000

14,259,000

43,499,000

1850...

9,687,000

7,904,000

1,866,000

3,792,000

17,706,000

40,948,000

1855...

14,648,000

13,327,000

1,477,000

2,314,000

26,832,000

58,630,000

1856...

16,963,000

14,074,000

1,296,000

1,953,000

34,438,000

68,726,000

1857...

19,159,000

12,651,000

1,310,000

1,593,000

32,919,000

67,634,000

1858...

25,679,000

14,053,000

1,219,000

1,652,000

31,378,000

73,982,000

1859...

23,154,000

14,690,000

1,222,000

2,637,000

27,287,000

68,993,000

1860...

16,472,000

11,514,000

1,100,000

3,114,000

30,968,000

63,201,000

The figures in the above table cover a period in our history when war and its fiscal influences are most likely to be forgotten. There has not been a year, however, when its presence has not been felt in the sums which have been contributed to the government. While some fluctuations occur in the expenditures of the War and Navy Departments, the general trend of their expenditure has been upward. The item for pensions has been an ever-present one, as has also the interest charge. A part of the interest charge has arisen from other causes than war and the preparation for war, yet these factors have been so largely responsible for creating public debts that it would not be far wrong to consider the interest charge as a war cost. Borrowing usually would be found unnecessary if the army and navy expenditures did not exist. For two or three years in the early ' thirties no interest charge occurred. This table, again, illustrates the visible increase of expenditure during the actual progress of war. The years during the Mexican War show the increases in the costs of the War Department, while the few succeeding years reflect its effect on the interest charge. It is interesting to note that, in the year during the period covered by the table, when the proportion of expenditure for pensions and the departments of War and Navy were lowest, it represented about 60 per cent of the total outlay.