The United States debt is so huge it threatens to destroy the nation. While this may seem like a headline from todays news, the irrefutable truth is, Americas ship of state has floated on a sea of red ink since the nations birth. As present-day Washington bickers about the debt-ceiling and Americans struggle to comprehend the countrys $14 trillion-plus deficit, Robert E. Wright, a leading expert in financial history and author of One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe, examines the evolution of Americas borrowing habit and how borrowed money has both helped and harmed the republic throughout its history.
Speaking to USA Today, Wright explains how debt first built up at the time of the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, and the War of 1812, revealing how the nations baggage today is nothing new.
As of the most recent accounting, however, the United States has $14.343 trillion in debt- $48.9 billion more than the debt limit. Thats because Congress, over the years, has exempted certain kinds of debt from the ceiling
One such category: old debt.
By 1812 the national debt exceeded $127 million. A part of that debt still exists because some of the bondholders — for whatever reason — havent redeemed the bonds The government, being very punctilious about its debt, wont take it off the books.
Click here to learn more about Americas long history with debt.