When Was The Last Time That The United States Was Debt-Free?

-- photo of the federal reserve building --When was the last time that the United States had NO federal debt to speak of?

Was it 1950?

Was it 1900?

The actual answer is - 1836.

1836. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States. The Republic of Texas declared their independence from Mexico. Arkansas was admitted as the 25th state.

In short - it's been a long while since the United States had zero federal debt.

From 1792 to 1834, the United States was slowly able to whittle down the size of their debt in relation to their GDP.

In 1792, the Debt to GDP % was 35.1; by 1834, this number had been brought down to just 0.39%.

In 1835 and 1836, the United States (according to public records) had no public debt to speak of - a 0% Debt to GDP ratio that I'm sure will never be duplicated again.

Since 1836, the United States has managed to add nearly $12 trillion dollars in debt, and this number is expected to rocket higher over the next decade.

The "Panic of 1837" (and the 5 year depression that soon followed) helped to push the country back into the red, and we have never enjoyed debt-free status since.

Over the past 173 years, a number of events have conspired to push our national debt through the roof - a couple of World Wars, a number of other conflicts, a Great Depression, a number of recessions and a general distaste for maintaining a balanced budget.

This question seems almost ridiculous to ask at this point but I'll ask it anyways - will the United States ever be debt-free again?

Filed under: General Knowledge

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