Was the US Ever Debt Free?

The US was debt free in 1835, when the national debt was paid off under President Andrew Jackson’s administration. The debt was about $58 million US Dollars (USD) when Jackson took office in 1829. He made paying off the debt a major priority and accomplished it mainly by selling government-owned land in the West. The period of the US being debt free lasted until the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis brought on by the states’ excessive printing of currency without enough reserve to back it. This resulted in a six-year-long economic depression, and the US began borrowing money again.

More about the US national debt:

  • The first taxes in the US were enacted in the 1790s to help the newly formed country pay off its debt, which had a 30% debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, or around $58 million USD at the time.

  • After the end of World War II in 1945, it took the US 17 years to pay off its wartime debt.

  • The record high of US debt was about $17 trillion USD, as of late 2013.

More Info: treasurydirect.gov

Discussion Comments


I think "The record high of US debt was about $17 trillion USD, as of late 2013" is an understatement.

I'm sure the debt is much higher than $17 trillion.


Is the US now debt free?

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