Borrowed Times: A History of the National Debt
With Congress at a standstill over whether to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, and the national debt approaching the size of the entire U.S. economy, you’d be hard pressed to find a politician with anything good to say about our debt. But America’s first Treasury Secretary famously called it a “national blessing.” What did he mean by that, and are there other times in history when Americans have actually celebrated our national debt?
On this episode, the History Guys ask why debt has continued to be so controversial in a nation that was founded on borrowing. What factors have contributed most to our ballooning deficit, and who, historically, have been most concerned about it? To whom does the nation owe all this money, and how has the slate of creditors changed? Is the current debt crisis truly unprecedented? How can history help us understand the extent to which debt endangers our 21st century economy?
- Bill Chrystal, Alexander Hamilton impersonator
- Julia Ott, Asst. Prof. of History, The New School (When Wall Street Met Main Street: The Quest for an Investors’ Democracy)
Want to dig deeper into Debt history? The BackStory research team has compiled a comprehensive list of resources for further exploration.