JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This is one of those fascinating bits that you come across that in the moment are just thrilling, but overall really doesn't have anywhere particular to live in your memory. Still, it was curious to find this data on the positions and pay to the members of the U.S. Navy in 1820 and to see the amount and distribution of pay, and to see the aggregates.
The pay ranges (for example) from $100/month for (52) Captains, $50/month for ( 52) surgeons, $40/month for (10) chaplains, $20/month for (21) sailmakers, $18/month for (24) cooks, $12/month for (1388) able seamen, $10/month for 1370 ordinary seamen, and $7/month for (278) boys.
[Source: can't remember. This is a detail from a loose, folding sheet from a U.S. government document from 1820, probably looking at the finances of armed forces, or some such.]
So it looks as though the total pay for U.S. naval personnel in 1820 (excluding "rations", which I believe included food and housing allotments) was $867, 578.00 (or pretty close to that) for 4,550 sailors/etc., which is about $200 per year per person, on average. 41% of that total outlay went to the 3,158 able and ordinary seamen, who composed 71% of the total naval force. So it looks like if your removed the pay for "boys" then the highest paid officer made about ten times what the lowest paid seaman made, which by today's standards is pretty corporate-responsible (a la Ben & Jerry's).
I'm not yet finding what a carpenter/laborer would make in salary for that year for comparison, but I will add that here later.