The British National debt at the close of the great French wars, (January, 1816.)
--A friend reminds us that we might have made our case against the Yankees
much stronger, in our article of Wednesday, by stating that the British
debt, at the period designated, bore an interest, some of three, some of four, and some of five per cent.
We were well aware of the fact; it does make the case stronger, as will be seen by the following statistics.
We deal here altogether with round numbers.
The British debt at the commencement of the wars of the French
revolution, 1793, amounted to £234,000,000 sterling.
During the first war, terminating by the treaty of Amiens
in 1802, it increased £327,000,000 sterling, ($1,635,000,000.) It therefore amounted at the peace aforesaid, to £561,000,000 sterling or about $2,800,000,000. It increased £40,000,000; sterling, or $200,000,000, during the peace, which lasted about fifteen months. When England
again went to war in 1803, therefore, she was in debt £601,000,000 sterling, or a little more than $3,000,000,000. From that time to the end of the war, the debt increased £511,000,000 sterling, or near $2,600,000,000. The total funded debt in February, 1816, slightly exceeded £1,100,000,000 sterling — about $5,500,000,000. From this are to be deducted £40,000,000 sterling, ($200,000,000,) which had been redeemed, and stood in the names of the Commissioners
for the reduction of the public debt--£3,000,000 sterling ($15,000,000,) transferred to the Commissioners
for life annuities--£25,000,000 ($125,000,000) cancelled by the redemption of the land tax — and £252,000,000 sterling ($1,260,000,000) which were cancelled and the funds charged with new loans by act of Parliament.
These reductions amount to about £320,000,000 sterling, or $1,600,000,000. Taken from the national debt, they still left unredeemed and due to the public creditor about £792,000,000 sterling, or $3,960,000,000.
Now, the interest on the debt at the commencement of the war (£34,000,000 sterling,) was only £8,000,000; about $40,000,000. At the commencement of the second war in 1803, the interest on the national debt, which was then £600,000,000, sterling, or $3,000,000,000, was only £21,000,000,000, or $105,000,000,000, and at the close of the war, when the debt had run up to £1,100,000,000, ($5,500,000,000,) the interest was only £42,000,000 sterling, or about $210,000,000. Thus the average rate at which the money was borrowed was between three and four per cent. In fact, of the whole £792,000,000 sterling which the Government
owed, £592,000,000 had been borrowed at 3 per cent., £74,000,000 at 4 per cent., and the residue at 5 per cent. All these sums were put together and rendered into 5 per cents., and this operation caused a reduction of the debt to £540,000,000 sterling, paying 5 per cent., a full equivalent for the larger sum, since it brought the same interest and would sell for as much money.
It the British
debt had all been rendered in 6 per cents., it would have reduced the bulk down to £450,000,000 sterling, or about $2,250,000,000 --a little more than three times the debt that will be saddled upon the Yankee
nation by one year's operations against us.
It will be observed that the bulk of the British
debt is reduced by consolidating the funds, and paying five per cent on the whole
This the Yankees
cannot do, because they have but one rate.
While a great deal of the British
debt, therefore, was nominal in amount, their's is all real.
They must pay the interest on $5,000,000,000, when they shall have been at war ten years, and the bulk of the debt cannot be reduced by the process of consolidation.