Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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NORWAY. One of the two states forming the Scandinavian peninsula, and united under the sceptre of the same king, with Sweden. The area of Norway, a small part of which is cultivated, is about 317,000 square kilometres, and its population, according to the census of 1875, the last taken, was 1,806,900. Former censuses give the population as follows: 1769, 723,141 inhabitants; 1801, 883,038; 1815, 885,431; 1825, 1,051,318; 1835, 1,194,827; 1845, 1,328,471; 1855, 1,490,047; 1865, 1,701,756 inhabitants. At the end of 1879 the population was estimated at 1,916,000.


—Norway has nothing in common with Sweden except its Scandinavian origin, its religion (Lutheran), the king and foreign representation. Its constitution dates from 1814, the time of its union with Sweden, and presents many remarkable peculiarities. The Norwegian parliament is called the storthing, and is divided for legislative affairs properly so called, into two chambers, the odelsthing and the lagthing. The members of the storthing are composed of representatives from the cities and representatives from the country, both elected for three years. To be eligible a person must enjoy a good reputation, be an elector, be thirty years of age, inhabit the district in which he is elected, and have lived at least ten years in Norway. The members of the council of state, the employes of the administration, and the officials of the court, are not eligible. To be an elector a man must be twenty-five years old, have lived at least five years in Norway, have taken the oath of fidelity to the constitution, enjoy a good reputation, and must have one of the following qualifications: 1, he must be or have been an official; 2, possess lands either as proprietor, or as farmer with a lease of more than five years; 3, be a burger in a commercial city so called, or possess in a seaport town real property worth at least $165; 4, have been registered as a tax payer for five years in the districts of the north of the kingdom, called the Finnish steppes, inhabited principally by Laplanders. There are two degrees in the elections. In the country 100 primary electors choose one secondary elector; the secondary electors assemble in the chief towns of the district, and choose from their own number one member out of every ten, but not more than four, as deputies. In the cities there is one secondary elector for every fifty primary electors, and in the assembly of the former one member is elected out of four, but not more than four in all. The deputies, whose number was fixed at 111 by the law of Nov. 26, 1859 (seventy-four for the rural districts and thirty-seven for the commercial cities so called), receive a certain allowance per day while sojourning at the seat of parliament, and traveling expenses; they formerly assembled every three years at Christiania, but by a modification of the constitution adopted in April, 1869, it was resolved to hold annual meetings. It can not remain in session more than three months without the authorization of the king. The king may also call the storthing together in extraordinary session, but he can not dissolve it and have new deputies chosen. Among those elected there are always many communal functionaries (fifty to sixty), and notably pastors, teachers and choir leaders. The prerogatives of the storthing are, to make and repeal laws, to vote the budget, to watch over the public finances, to examine the acts of the government, and to try crimes against the state. The king and the viceroy (prince royal) are not subject to this political jurisdiction. The deputies share with the government the initiative in legislation. When the storthing comes together in assembly, it elects a fourth of its members to form the lagthing (upper chamber); the rest constitute the odelsthing, and each chamber meets separately. Bills are presented to the odelsthing; those which are passed by it are sent to the lagthing, which accepts or rejects them. In the latter case, the bill comes back with the exceptions to it, which are examined by the odelsthing. If each chamber persists twice in its opinion, they come together, and the storthing votes as a single assembly. In the lagthing the members of the high court of justice are chosen.


—The laws passed are subject to the sanction of the king. This sanction can be refused twice. When passed the third time by the storthing, the law has no further need of sanction. The king has then only a suspensive veto. This was the way, in 1821, that the institution of nobility was abolished in Norway. The king has nevertheless rather extensive power, and the ministers are responsible only if they have not noted their protest on the record. With this exception they are free to affix their countersign; or, to speak more exactly, the ministers are responsible only for their propositions. The king can appoint a viceroy or a lieutenant; the prince royal only can be viceroy, and he is then obliged to reside in Norway nine months out of the twelve.


—The "Norwegian government" is composed of two ministers and at least seven councilors of state, appointed by the king from among Norwegians. One of the ministers and two councilors of state are always with the king in Sweden, and the five others, presided over by the viceroy or the lieutenant of the king, (there has been none since 1880), are occupied with affairs of the interior. The king can decide nothing without having taken the advice of the council of state, or of the part of the Norwegian government which has its seat at Christiania. He is general-in-chief of all the land and naval forces, but he can not employ the army or the navy for a war of aggression without the consent of parliament; not even in favor of Sweden, which is considered as a foreign country by Norway. Still, the king "can make treaties, declare war, levy troops," but we believe that these royal rights exist more upon paper than in fact. The king, however, enjoys the plenitude of executive power.


—There are seven ministerial departments, each one directed by a councilor of state. The departments are as follows: 1, of worship and education; 2, of justice and police; 3, of the interior; 4, of finance and customs; 5, of the army; 6, of the navy and the postoffice; 7, of the revision of accounts.


—The finances of Norway are remarkable for this, that direct taxes have been abolished there. The budget is always voted for three years, and the financial period commences April 1. The estimate of the expenditures and receipts for the period 1869-72, and the accounts of 1870, in ducats, worth five francs sixty-three centimes each, are as follows:

Table.  Click to enlarge in new window.


The debt in 1871 was about 7,500,000 ducats, of which more than five millions were incurred by loans for railways (in 1848 at 4 per cent., and in 1858 at 5½ per cent.), and almost a million by a loan contracted in 1851 to establish a state bank.


—The standing army in 1873 numbered about 2,000 men (volunteers), but all the inhabitants are obliged to serve five years in the line—two in the reserve, and three in the landwehr; they are then enrolled in the landsturm, or leveé en masse. Young men who have completed their nineteenth year are liable to be recruited. The navy was composed at the same date of sixteen steamers (156 guns), of which two are frigates, and 103 sailing vessels (507 guns). The naval force embraced, in 1866, 14,754 men.


—Norway can not be called a rich country. The climate is not favorable to agriculture, although it is not so cold as its high latitude would seem to imply, but the raising of live stock is important. There were in Norway, in 1855, 154,447 horses, 949,935 horned cattle, 1,596,199 wool-bearing animals, 113,320 hogs, 357,102 goats, and 116,891 reindeer. The useful land is divided into 128,537 estates, but there are also immense forests and other lands, which may be considered as public domains. These forests are a great source of wealth for the country, which carries on a large commerce in lumber, but their wealth must not be considered as inexhaustible. Its fisheries are the principal industry of Norway, the exploitation of its forests ranking only second. The third important branch of industry is mining, but it is far from having the importance it has in Sweden. A large number of Norwegian marines are employed in the transportation of merchandise between two other countries, where the commerce is relatively active. The imports, which were estimated in 1856-60 at about 15,500,000 ducats a year, rose in 1870 to 26,200,000; and the exports, which attained, 1856-60, only 11,500,000, in 1870 slightly exceeded 20,000,000. The movement of navigation, which in 1861 was 583,000 lasts (two tons) entry, and 529,000 departure, in 1870 was 762,600 entry and 775,991 departure. The merchant marine in 1861 consisted of 5,493 ships (drawing 276,077 lasts) and in 1870 of 6,993 ships (drawing 486,912 lasts); 118 of these ships were steamers. In December, 1872, there were 496 kilometres of railways and 5,800 kilometres of telegraphs, and the post carried 5,429,198 letters.


—Happy under its democratic government, created without the spirit of imitation, Norway is evidently progressing. Public instruction is very wide spread, and besides permanent schools, there are traveling instructors, who bear elementary knowledge even into remote localities. There is a university at Christiania and secondary schools in different cities. Special instruction is not neglected. Taking everything into consideration it can be said that Norway is making great efforts to remain on the level of civilized countries, and that she is succeeding.


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Kraft, Topographisk-statistisk Beskrivelse over Kongeriget Norge, Christiania, 1820-35, and Historisk-topographisk Haandbog over Kongeriget Norge, Christiania, 1845-8; Blom. Das Königreich Norwegen statistisch beschrieben. Leipzig, 1843; Broch, Le royaume de Norvège et le peuple Norvégien. Christiania, 1876; Nielsen, Norwegen, ein praktisches Handbuch für Reisende, 3d ed., Hamburg, 1877; Thorlak, Historia rerum Norwegicarum, Copenhagen, 1711; Schöning, Norges Riges Historie, 8 vols., Soro, 1711-81; Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, 8 vols., Christiania, 1852-63; Tönsberg, Illustretet Norge, Handbog for Reisende, Ny udgave, Christiania, 1879.*84


Notes for this chapter

The budget of Norway for the period commencing July 1, 1880, and ending June 30, 1881, is distributed as follows:

Sources of Revenue.Kroner.
Customs 18,600,000
Excise on spirits 3,600,000
Excise on malt 2,400,000
Tax on succession 230,000
Stamps 490,000
Mines 874,100
Postoffice 1,600,000
Telegraphs 850,000
Judicial fees 875,000
Income on state property 2,082,300
Income on state railways 3,654,400
Loan for construction of railways 7,019,400
Private subscriptions for the same purpose 1,273,300
Miscellaneous receipts 293,400
Total revenue 43,791,900

Branches of Expenditure.Kroner.
Civil list 434,100
Storthing 397,100
The ministries 1,144,700
Church and education 2,893,500
Justice 3,228,500
Interior 4,861,300
Finance and customs 3,521,300
Army 6,370,800
Navy 1,883,400
Post, telegraphs, ports, lighthouses, etc. 4,352,300
Foreign affairs 461,500
Amortization of debt 1,309,500
Interest and expenses of debt 4,611,700
Construction of railways 8,292,700
Miscellaneous 169,700
Balance 269,800
Total expenditure 43,791,900

(The krone is worth about twenty-eight cents.) The public debt amounted, at the end of June, 1879, to 99,632,000 kroner.

—The troops of the kingdom are raised mainly by conscription, and to a email extent by enlistment. All young men past the twenty-first year are liable to conscription, with the exception of the inhabitants of the three northern arms of the kingdom, who are free from military service. The nominal term of service is ten years, divided between seven years in the line and three years in the landvaern or militia. The landvaern is only liable to service within the frontiers of the kingdom. On Jan. 1, 1880, the troops of the line, with its reserves, numbered 40,000 men, with 700 officers. The number of troops, actually under arms can never exceed, even in war, 18,000 men, without the consent of the storthing. The king has permission to keep a guard of Norwegian volunteers at Stockholm, and to transfer, for the purpose of common military exercises, 3,000 men annually from Norway to Sweden, and from Sweden to Norway.

—The naval force of Norway comprised, at the end of October, 1880, thirty-four steamers and ninety sailing vessels, the latter, with the exception of five, forming a flotilla of row-boats for coast defense.

—The average value of the total imports into Norway, in the five years, 1876-80, was 161,800,000 kroner, and of the exports 102,300,000 kroner. The shipping belonging to Norway numbered 8,125 vessels, of a total burthen of 1,509,477 tons, at the end of 1879. Norway has, in proportion to population, the largest commercial navy in the world.

—At the end of October, 1880, there were in Norway 759 miles of railway open for traffic, and 212 miles under construction. There were at the end of 1879, telegraph lines of the length of 5,815 English miles (4,634 miles belonging to the state, and 681 miles to the railways), and wires of the length of 9,726 miles (8,414 miles belonging to the state, and 1,312 miles to the railways). The number of postoffices at the same time was 904. Number of letters forwarded through the post in 1879, 13,311,909.

End of Notes

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