Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Soldier's Pay

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ constant dollar calculator, twenty-five cents in 1913 has the same buying power of $5.36 in 2008.

In 1913 an enlisted member of the Ohio National Guard received twenty-five cents in pay for attendance at each scheduled drill. According to Article XV, Section 5272, of Regulations for the Ohio National Guard, 1912, members of the Guard were required to meet for the purpose of “drill and instruction” at least once a week but not to exceed 48 days per year.

Article XVII, Section 5288 of the same regulation stipulates that enlisted members will receive twenty-five cents for each drill day, paid quarterly. In addition to weekly drills, Ohio Guardsman also attended the annual “encampment”, which would last from eight to fourteen days.

According to Paul H. Douglas, Real Wages in the United States, 1890-1926 (Houghton Mifflin: Boston), 1930, p. 108, real wages in all manufacturing in the United States in 1913 averaged $2.09 per day.

Some skilled workers, however, made considerably more. An article entitled “Wages Higher in 1913: Sixty Industries Paid More Last May Than in 1912” that appeared in the May 10, 1913, edition of The New York Times, called attention to the “high” wages of some skilled trades in certain cities. According to the Bureau of Labor, the article reported, bricklayers in Dallas made eight-eight cents an hour; carpenters in Chicago sixty-five cents an hour; and plumbers and gasfitters in Seattle made eighty-one cents an hour.

Whether we compare the Ohio Guardsman’s drill pay to contemporary buying power or to his contemporary’s wages, some who worked for firms such as National Cash Register which was headquartered in Dayton, he did not do it for the money.

If it wasn’t to get rich, why did these citizens give up 56 to 62 days out of the year to be a soldier?

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