Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, from the Moniteur, the reports of an interesting debate in the House of Representatives upon the war budget. The general discussion of that appropriation bill, commencing on the 19th ultimo, closed on the 28th, the debate up to the vote on the 1st being confined thereafter to the articles in detail.
Free expression was given therein to the different shades of opposition to the military system of Belgium, whether in favor of abrogation of a standing army altogether or of its reduction; and on the other hand, in defence of this system, which, upon a nominal army of 100,000 men, keeps up a peace establishment, in round numbers, of 40,000 men under arms, and with a war budget of seven million dollars.
Instead of an analysis of the debate, which would exceed the limits usually given to a despatch, I would refer you to the speeches of Mr. Hardy de Beau-lino and of Mr. Coomans, the one opposed to standing armies, the other opposed to the present system; and on the other side, to that of the minister of war, General Chazal, and of Mr. Vanoverloop. The very able speeches of the minister of war, while showing a much more profound knowledge of military affairs in Belgium than in the United States, are an interesting exposé and defence of the military system in this country.
The bill was passed on the 1st by 64 to 27 votes and 9 abstentions, 10 of the liberal members voting against it.
I refer particularly to this debate as being probably a point of departure of a systematic opposition to the large military establishment of this country, and as likely to have an important bearing, unless political events come in meanwhile, to change the growing popular feeling on this subject on the next general election.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.