The Last Day That The United States Was Debt-Free
Why is January 8th, 1835 important?
The popular theory is that January 8th, 1835 is the last day that the United States was free of debt. Historians tend to disagree on the exact day (some believe that the nation was technically debt free on January 1st, 1835, while others believe that the date was January 8th) when the United States extinguished its debt for the final time, but there is no disputing that the nation was debt-free in early 1835.
According to the US Treasury Department, the United States had a total debt load of $33,733.05 at the start of the 1835 fiscal year (which started January 1st, 1835). $33,733.05 in today's dollars equals roughly $1 million.
According to historians, President Andrew Jackson declared that the national debt had been paid in full in early 1835. Here is what President Jackson said during a toast a short while after:
"Let us commemorate it as an event that gives us increased power as a nation, and reflects luster on our federal Union, of whose justice, fidelity, and wisdom it is a glorious illustration."
There was talk amongst politicians at the time as to what to do with any surpluses - after all, since the nation was debt free, there was no debt to pay down.
By the start of the next fiscal year (January 1st, 1836), the national debt stood at $37,513.05.
Over the next few years, the national debt increased from $37,513.05 to $336,957.93 to $3,308,124.07. After that, things really went off the rails thanks to a depression that lasted from 1839 until 1843. By the start of the 1844 fiscal year (July 1st, 1844), the nation had a total debt load of $23,461,652.50. Numerous wars and depressions would follow and the nation would never again be debt-free.
Source: Treasurydirect.gov - Historical Debt Outstanding (1790-1849)
Filed under: General Knowledge