Now you don’t hear this little tidbit of history very much, now do we? So not only did the Virginia Company have a lottery to fund the venture to the ‘new world’, that money was also used to contract the services of privateers to transport those colonists, or pay the salaries of contract soldiers to protect those colonists. The lottery concept seemed to be an attractive method of financing this stuff back then, as we can see by the lotto ticket for the Revolutionary War below.
So let’s take this a step further. Could a modern day lottery be used by countries to fund their wars? How about an Afghan War Lotto. We could call it Super Pashtun Daily Doubles. lol And if you look at the lotteries going on in the various U.S. States and countries, you can see that the potential for raising some serious cash is there. Tack on the advent of the internet, and wow.
Better yet, in countries that are just starting out or are just scrambling to gain stability and peace, imagine a world wide lottery system for them, with the expressed interest of raising an army or funding equipment and infrastructure for their country?
The lottery, like privateering, should be looked at again with a modern day lens for warfare. Especially if the world wide economies continue to have problems, or the dollar decreases in value, or whatever financial calamity that could severely limit war funding. Just because the economy sucks, doesn’t mean Al Qaeda or Somali Pirates take vacations.
Which takes me to my next point. The enemies we are fighting these days, are already using extremely innovative means to finance their wars and maintain their good deals. From piracy, to drugs, to kidnapping, or whatever criminal venture. The Somalis have figured out an excellent business model through modern day piracy, and even put together a stock exchange for it. Drug cartels make millions of dollars in their industry, and so much so that they finance entire armies to protect their business. Groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban use all these methods to get money, and they also throw in extortion or protection rackets, along with seeking donations from buddies all over the world.
Meanwhile, large nation states, like the U.S., are not making any money off of their wars against these folks , and the use of such large conventional forces with all of their modern fancy equipment and tanks and boats etc. etc., costs a ton of money. What happens when there isn’t any more money to continue the fight against this financially resilient enemy? In simpler terms, the enemies we are fighting really don’t have a money problem, but large countries with ultra expensive war machines certainly can have money problems, and do. I guess that is why I keep bringing up these cheaper means of warfare, or in other words, innovative ways to introduce private industry to the war in order to make it more cost effective. With that said, I will continue to look for the good stuff out there. –Matt
1776 Lottery ticket issued by the Continental Congress to finance the Revolutionary War.
Early America Lotteries, 1612-1900 (Wikipedia)
An English lottery, authorized by King James I in 1612, granted the Virginia Company of London the right to raise money to help establish settlers in the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Virginia.
Lotteries in colonial America played a significant part in the financing of both private and public ventures. It has been recorded that more than 200 lotteries were sanctioned between 1744 and 1776, and played a major role in financing roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, etc. In the 1740s, the foundation of Princeton and Columbia Universities was financed by lotteries, as was the University of Pennsylvania by the Academy Lottery in 1755.
During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies used lotteries to help finance fortifications and their local militia. In May 1758, the State of Massachusetts raised money with a lottery for the “Expedition against Canada.”
Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to raise money to purchase cannon for the defense of Philadelphia. Several of these lotteries offered prizes in the form of “Pieces of Eight.” George Washington’s Mountain Road Lottery in 1768 was unsuccessful. However, these rare lottery tickets bearing George Washington’s signature have become collectors’ items which sold for about $15,000 in 2007. Later, in 1769, Washington was a manager for Col. Bernard Moore’s “Slave Lottery”, which advertised land and slaves as prizes in the Virginia Gazette.
At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress used lotteries to raise money to support the Colonial Army. Alexander Hamilton wrote that lotteries should be kept simple, and that “Everybody … will be willing to hazard a trifling sum for the chance of considerable gain … and would prefer a small chance of winning a great deal to a great chance of winning little.” Taxes had never been accepted as a way to raise public funding for projects, and this led to the popular belief that lotteries were a form of hidden tax.
At the end of the Revolutionary War the various states had to resort to lotteries to raise funds for numerous public projects. For many years these lotteries were highly successful and contributed to the nation’s rapid growth. The lotteries were used for such diverse projects as the Pennsylvania Schuylkill – Susquehanna Canal (lottery in May 1795), and Harvard College (lottery in March 1806). Many American churches raised building funds through state authorized private lotteries.
However, lotteries eventually became a cause of financial mismanagement and scandal. Most notorious was the Louisiana State Lottery (1868-1892) which was aptly called the “Golden Octopus” because its tentacles reached into every home in America.
Bolita, a type of lottery popular in Cuba, was brought to Tampa, Florida in the 1880s and flourished in Ybor City’s many Latin saloons.
Toward the end of the 19th century a large majority of state constitutions banned lotteries. Finally, on July 29, 1890, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison sent a message to Congress demanding “severe and effective legislation” against lotteries. Congress acted swiftly, and banned the U.S. mails from carrying lottery tickets. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 1892, and that brought a complete halt to all lotteries in the U.S.A. by 1900.
When lotteries raised their head again in 1964, it would take many years of constitutional amendements by the various states before the lotteries were allowed to flourish again.
On March 12, 1964, New Hampshire became the first state to sell lottery tickets in the modern era.
Link to Wikipedia here.