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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

Facts and Statistics from the Census and Other Sources, Mostly Official

Facts and Statistics from the Census and Other Sources, Mostly Official.

I now desire to present in the best manner I can a statement of facts bearing upon the effect of the manufacture and use of intoxicating liquors on the wealth, industries, and productive powers of the nation; also upon its ignorance, pauperism, and crime. I have endeavored to authenticate every statement by careful inquiry. The information is drawn from the census returns, from records of the Departments of Government, reports of State authorities, declarations from prominent statisticians and responsible gentlemen in different parts of the country. Much of it is to be found, with a great deal more of similar matter, in a very valuable book published the present year. The author is William Hargreaves, M.D., of Philadelphia. No one who has not fought with figures, like old Paul with the beasts at Ephesus, knows how it taxes the utmost powers of man to classify, condense, and present intelligibly to the mind the mathematical or statistical demonstration of these tremendous social and economic facts. The truths they teach involve the fate of modern civilization.

In 1870 the tax collected by the Internal Revenue Department was upon 72,425,353 gallons of proof spirits and 6,081,520 barrels of fermented liquors. Commissioner Delano estimates the consumption of distilled spirits in 1869 at 80,000,000 gallons. By the census returns June 1, 1860, there were produced in the United States 90,412,581 gallons of domestic spirits—and of course this was consumed, with large amounts imported besides—but there are very large items which escape the official enumeration. These have been carefully estimated as follows: page 17
Gallons.
Domestic liquors evading tax and imported smuggled, at least 5,000,000.
Domestic wines 10,000,000
Domestic wines made on farms 3,092,330
Domestic wines made and used in private families 1,000,000
Domestic of liquors paying tax by dealers 7,500,000
26,592,330

This amount added to the total produced in 1860 would be 107,004,-911; added to amount on which was collected tax in 1870 would be 99,017,683.

It is well known that the great mass of alcoholic liquor is consumed as a beverage, and it will fall below the fact to place the amount paid for it at retail by the American drinker at 75,000,000 gallons yearly. But take the very modest estimate of Dr. Young, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, who makes the following estimate of the sales of liquors in the fiscal year ending June 1, 1871:
Whisky, (alone) 60,000,000 gallons at $6, at retail $360,000,000
Imported spirits 2,500,000 gallons at $10, at retail 25,000,000
Imported wine 10,700,000 gallons at $5, at retail 53,500,000
Ale, beer, and porter 6,500,000 gallons at $20 a bbl. at retail 130,000,000
Native wines, brandies, cordials, estimated 31,500,000
Total 600,000,000

I am satisfied that this is much below the real amount, but it is enough.

This is one-seventh the value of all our manufactures for that year, more than one-fourth that of farm productions, betterments, and stock, as shown by the census.

Dr. Hargreaves estimates the retail liquor bill of 1871 at $680,036,042. In 1872, as shown by the internal revenue returns, there was a total of domestic and foreign liquors shown into the hands of the American people of 337,288,066 gallons, the retail cost of which at the estimated prices of Dr. Young is $735,720,048. The total of liquors paying tax from 1860 to 1872—thirteen years—was 2,762,926,066 gallons, costing the consumer $6,780,161,805. During several of these years the Government was largely swindled out of the tax, so that no mortal knows how far the truth lies beyond these startling aggregates.

Dr. Young estimates the cost of liquors in 1867 at the same as in 1871—$600,000,000—and exclaims: "It would pay for 100,000,000 barrels of flour, averaging two and one-half barrels to every man, woman, and child in the country.

Such facts might well transform the mathematician into an exclamation point. Dr. Hargreaves, who goes into all the minutiœ of the demonstration, dealing, however, only with bureau returns, declares that the annual consumption of distilled spirits in the United States is not less than 100,000,000 gallons annually, and this makes a very small allowance for "crooked whisky." Take now Dr. Young's moderate estimate of $600,000,000 annually, and relying upon the official records of the country, and in sixteen years we have destroyed in drink $9,600,000,000—more than four times the amount of the national debt, and once and a half times the whole cost of the war of the rebellion to all sections of the country, while the loss of life, health, spiritual force, and moral power to the people was beyond comparison greater. The lowest estimate I have seen of the annual loss of life directly from page 18 the use of intoxicating liquor is 60,000, or 960,000 during the period above mentioned; more than three times the whole loss of the North by battle and disease in the war, as shown by the official returns.

The assessed value of all the real estate in the United States is $9,914,780,825; of personal, $4,264,205,907. In twenty-five years we drink ourselves out of the value of our country, personal property and all.

The census shows that in 1870 the State of New York spent for liquors, $106,590,000; more than two-fifths of the value of products of agriculture and nearly one-seventh the value of all the manufactures, and nearly two-thirds of the wages paid for both agriculture and manufactures, the liquor bill being little less than twice the receipts of her railroads. The liquor bill of Pennsylvania in 1870 was $65,075,000; of Illinois, $42,825,000; Ohio, $58,845,000; Massachusetts, $25,195,000; New Hampshire, $5,800,000; Maine, where the prohibitory law is better enforced than anywhere else, $4,215,000, although Maine has twice the population of New Hampshire.

Dr. Hargreaves says that there was expended for intoxicating drinks in—
1869 $693,999,509
1870 619,425,110
1871 680,036,042
1872 735,729,048
Total 2,729,186,709
Annual average 682,296,677

And he says the average is larger since 1872, exceeding $700,000,000.

Each family by the census averages 5.09 persons, and we spend for liquor at the rate of $81.74 yearly for each. The loss to the nation in perverted labor is very great. In 1872 there were 7,276 licensed wholesale liquor establishments and 161,144 persons licensed to sell at retail. It is said that there are as many more unlicensed retail liquor shops. All these places of traffic must employ at least half a million of men. There were then 3,132 distilleries, which would employ certainly five men each—say, 15,660. The brewer's congress in 1874 said that there were employed in their business 11,698. There would be miscellaneously employed about breweries and distilleries 10,000; in selling, say, 500,000. In all, say, 550,000 able-bodied men, who, so far as distilled liquors are concerned at least, constitute a standing army constantly destroying the American people. They create more havoc than an opposing nation which should maintain a hostile force of half a million armed men constantly making war against us upon our own soil. The temple of this Janus is always open. Why should we thus persevere in self-destruction?

There are 600,000 habitual drunkards in the United States. If they lose half their time it would be a loss of $150,000,000 to the nation in productive power and in wages and wealth to both the nation and themselves every year.

Dr. Hargreaves has constructed the following table:
The yearly loss of time and industry of 545,624 men employed in liquor-making and selling $272,812,000
Loss of time and industry of 600,000 drunkards 150,000,000
Loss of time of 1,404,323 male tipplers 146,861,592
Total $568,861,592
page 19

And he adds that investigation will show this large aggregate is far below the true loss.

By this same process 40,000,000 bushels of nutritious grain are annually destroyed, equal to 600,000,000 four-pound loaves; about 80 loaves for each family in the country.

Dr. Hitchcock, president of Michigan State Board of Health, estimates the annual loss of productive life by reason of premature deaths produced by alcohol at 1,127,000 years, and that there are constantly sick or disabled from its use 98,000 persons in this country.

Assuming the annual producing power of an able-bodied person to be $500 value, and this annual loss of life would otherwise be producing, the national loss is the immense sum of $612,510,000 00
Add to this the losses by the misdirected industry of those engaged in the manufacture and safe; loss of one-half the time of the 600,000 drunkards and of the tipplers, as their number is estimated by Dr. Hargreaves 568,861,592,00
And we have $1,181,371,592,00
The grain, etc., destroyed 36,000,000,00
$1,217,371,592,00
Dr. Hitchcock estimates the number of insane, made so annually, at 9,338, or less in effective life of 98,259 years, at $500 per year 49,129,500 00
Number of idiots from same cause, an annual loss of 319,908 years 159,954,000,00
$1,426,455,092,00
Deduct receipts of internal-revenue tax (year 1875) $61,225,995 53
Receipts from about 500,000 State licenses, at $100 50,000,000 00 111,225,995,53
Annual loss to the nation of production $1,263,229,096,47
Annual value of all labor in the United States, as per census of 1870 1,263.984,003 00
Losses from alcohol in excess of wages of labor yearly $51,245,093 47

This calculation includes nothing tor interest upon capital invested, for care of the sick, insane, idiotic—it allows alcohol credit for revenue paid on all which is used for legitimate purposes. In England the capital invested in liquor business is $585,000,000, or £117,000,000. It was proved by the liquor dealers before the committee of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1867 that the capital invested in the business in Boston was at least $100,000,000, and in the whole country it can not be less than $1,000,000,000, or ten times the amount invested in Boston. The annual value of imported liquors is about $80,000,000. It may be that the above estimate of losses yearly to the nation is too high. Perhaps $500 is more than the average gross earnings of an able-bodied man, and there may be other errors of less consequence. But any gentleman is at liberty to divide and subdivide the dreadful aggregate as often and as long as he pleases, and then I would ask him what good reason has he to give why the nation should lose anything from these causes.