A Short Historical Look at the United States National Debt

Debt Clock


This great nation started in debt. On the 4th of July 1776 our independence was declared; however fighting was necessary. England did not just agree to give us our independence. Untrained men became brave soldiers and fought for the freedom of this nation.

         The conditions were pitiful. There was not enough food, not enough water, no proper clothing or shelter for the rough winters and not even enough proper weapons to fight against one of the most powerful armies in the history of humanity.

         In 1791, as our first President was inaugurated, our national debt was $75,463,477. This is an equivalent of $1,886,586,925 in today’s money. Our founder fathers did not like to be in debt; our first presidents were not comfortable with debt. The national debt was an important issue, year after year, and election after election.

         As we study the national debt of this nation we can also clearly see that wars are too expensive. For example, during the times of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, we saw the national debt surpassing one billion dollars for the first time in our history. In 1863 we saw our national debt go up to $1,119,772,139 that is an equivalent of over twenty billion dollars in today’s money. However, just like the war for our independence was necessary, our Civil War was to. For in the first war we fought for our freedom as a nation, but in the second one we fought for freedom that was denied to the slaves. Our founding father’s dealings with slaves; to this day, continues to be our greatest contradiction and hypocrisy as a nation.

         The national debt stood in around two billion dollars until the year 1913. Then we saw a rapid increase in our debt; we saw the three billions, we saw the five, we saw the teens, the twenty billions in debts, the thirty billion, the forty billion, the over seventy billion in debt and then in 1943 we went over 130 billion dollars in debt. That was the point of no return!

         In 1982 we broke another mark; this time our national debt went over a trillion dollars. Republican and Democrat Presidents, both, saw this national debt increasing. Conservatives and Liberal President alike have done nothing to bring this number down.

         See, I love these numbers because Republicans and Democrats all have their favorite Presidents that they love to idolize, but these numbers tell us the truth. If we take Ronald Reagan as a starting point, we can see that the national debt went up every year under his administration. The same pattern continued under George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and our current President.

         By the time George W. Bush became president, our national debt was over five trillion dollars. By the time George W. Bush left office, our national debt surpassed the ten trillion dollars. Under our current Presidents we went over 13 trillion dollars the first year. Today our national debt surpasses 17 trillion dollars. President Obama did not give us change, he gave us more of the same; the pattern of debt continues.

         The question is, has the United States of America ever been debt free? The answer is yes, on January 8, 1835, under President Andrew Jackson, this nation was debt free. By the way, President Andrew Jackson was a Democrat. His dealings with slaves and Native Americans were indeed shameful, but when it comes down to fiscal responsibility, Democrats and Republicans today can learn a thing or two from this man. No other President, in the history of this nation is able to show such success in addressing the issue of our national debt.

         Democrats and Republicans have been sharing in power for a long time; they both have gotten us to this place of debt as a nation. Is it time for a third party? How can we pay off this debt? I don’t know, but I hope that God raises somebody that knows how.

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