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The National Debt Crisis — by Presidency

Alex Brandon/AP / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. national debt has reached a record high of more than $22.5 trillion. Although Donald Trump promised while campaigning for president that he could get rid of the nation’s debt, it has grown by more than $2 trillion since he took office in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Clearly, the government’s increasing debt is not a new trend. To see how it got to this point, GOBankingRates analyzed Treasury Department data on public debt from George Washington’s presidency through Trump’s current term.

Washington took office in April 1789. However, the Treasury Department’s data starts in 1790, when Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton estimated that total public debt was $70.1 million and called for the issuance of federal bonds to cover the debt. In 1835, the national debt hit a low of $33,733 when Andrew Jackson was president. But the U.S. started borrowing again as the economy entered a recession in 1837. Then, the country’s debt eventually crossed the billion-dollar mark in 1863 during the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

Over a century later, the public debt topped $1 trillion for the first time in 1982 under Ronald Reagan and more than doubled during his presidency — and it’s been climbing steadily since then. Knowing how much the national debt has increased with each president might help inform your decisions in the 2020 presidential race.

Last updated: Sept. 18, 2019

National Gallery of Art / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

George Washington, 1789-1797

  • 1790: $71,060,508.50
  • 1791: $75,463,476.52
  • 1792: $77,227,924.66
  • 1793: $80,358,634.04
  • 1794: $78,427,404.77
  • 1795: $80,747,587.39
  • 1796: $83,762,172.07
  • 1797: $82,064,479.33

Picasa / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

John Adams, 1797-1801

  • 1797: $82,064,479.33
  • 1798: $79,228,529.12
  • 1799: $78,408,669.77
  • 1800: $82,976,294.35
  • 1801: $83,038,050.80

Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809

  • 1801: $83,038,050.80
  • 1802: $80,712,632.25
  • 1803: $77,054,686.40
  • 1804: $86,427,120.88
  • 1805: $82,312,150.50
  • 1806: $75,723,270.66
  • 1807: $69,218,398.64
  • 1808: $65,196,317.97
  • 1809: $57,023,192.09

James Madison, 1809-1817

  • 1809: $57,023,192.09
  • 1810: $53,173,217.52
  • 1811: $48,005,587.76
  • 1812: $45,209,737.90
  • 1813: $55,962,827.57
  • 1814: $81,487,846.24
  • 1815: $99,833,660.15
  • 1816: $127,334,933.74
  • 1817: $123,491,965.16

James Monroe, 1817-1825

  • 1817: $123,491,965.16
  • 1818: $103,466,633.83
  • 1819: $95,529,648.28
  • 1820: $91,015,566.15
  • 1821: $89,987,427.66
  • 1822: $93,546,676.98
  • 1823: $90,875,877.28
  • 1824: $90,269,777.77
  • 1825: $83,788,432.71

John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829

  • 1825: $83,788,432.71
  • 1826: $81,054,059.99
  • 1827: $73,987,357.20
  • 1828: $67,475,043.87
  • 1829: $58,421,413.67

Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837

  • 1829: $58,421,413.67
  • 1830: $48,565,406.50
  • 1831: $39,123,191.68
  • 1832: $24,322,235.18
  • 1833: $7,001,698.83
  • 1834: $4,760,082.08
  • 1835: $33,733.05
  • 1836: $37,513.05
  • 1837: $336,957.83

Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841

  • 1837: $336,957.83
  • 1838: $3,308,124.07
  • 1839: $10,434,221.14
  • 1840: $3,573,343.82
  • 1841: $5,250,875.54

William Henry Harrison, 1841

  • 1841: $5,250,875.54

John Tyler, 1841-1845

  • 1841: $5,250,875.54
  • 1842: $13,594,480.73 (Congress changed the beginning of the fiscal year from Jan. 1 to July 1 in 1842.)
  • 1843 (as of Jan. 1): $20,201,226.27
  • 1843 (as of July 1): $32,742,922
  • 1844: $23,461,652.50
  • 1845: $15,925,303.01

James Polk, 1845-1849

  • 1845: $15,925,303.01
  • 1846: $15,550,202.97
  • 1847: $38,826,534.77
  • 1848: $47,044,862.23
  • 1849: $63,061,858.69

Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850

  • 1849: $63,061,858.69
  • 1850: $63,452,773.55

Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853

  • 1850: $63,452,773.55
  • 1851: $68,304,796.02
  • 1852: $66,199,341.71
  • 1853: $59,803,117.70

Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857

  • 1853: $59,803,117.70
  • 1854: $42,242,222.42
  • 1855: $35,586,956.56
  • 1856: $31,972,537.90
  • 1857: $28,699,831.85

George Peter Alexander Healy / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

James Buchanan, 1857-1861

  • 1857: $28,699,831.85
  • 1858: $44,911,881.03
  • 1859: $58,496,837.88
  • 1860: $64,842,287.88
  • 1861: $90,580,873.72

Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865

  • 1861: $90,580,873.72
  • 1862: $524,176,412.13
  • 1863: $1,119,772,138.63
  • 1864: $1,815,784,370.57
  • 1865: $2,680,647,869.74

Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869

  • 1865: $2,680,647,869.74
  • 1866: $2,773,236,173.69
  • 1867: $2,678,126,103.87
  • 1868: $2,611,687,851.19
  • 1869: $2,588,452,213.94

Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877

  • 1869: $2,588,452,213.94
  • 1870: $2,480,672,427.81
  • 1871: $2,353,211,332.32
  • 1872: $2,253,251,328.78
  • 1873: $2,234,482,993.20
  • 1874: $2,251,690,468.43
  • 1875: $2,232,284,531.95
  • 1876: $2,180,395,067.15
  • 1877: $2,205,301,392.10

Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881

  • 1877: $2,205,301,392.10
  • 1878: $2,256,205,892.53
  • 1879: $2,349,567,482.04
  • 1880: $2,120,415,370.63
  • 1881: $2,069,013,569.58

James Garfield, 1881

  • 1881: $2,069,013,569.58

Chester Arthur, 1881-1885

  • 1881: $2,069,013,569.58
  • 1882: $1,918,312,994.03
  • 1883: $1,884,171,728.07
  • 1884: $1,830,528,923.57
  • 1885: $1,863,964,873.14

Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889

  • 1885: $1,863,964,873.14
  • 1886: $1,775,063,013.78
  • 1887: $1,657,602,592.63
  • 1888: $1,692,858,984.58
  • 1889: $1,619,052,922.23

 

Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893

  • 1889: $1,619,052,922.23
  • 1890: $1,552,140,204.73
  • 1891: $1,545,996,591.61
  • 1892: $1,588,464,144.63
  • 1893: $1,545,985,686.13

Grover Cleveland, 1893-1897

  • 1893: $1,545,985,686.13
  • 1894: $1,632,253,636.68
  • 1895: $1,676,120,983.25
  • 1896: $1,769,840,323.40
  • 1897: $1,817,672,665.90

William McKinley, 1897-1901

  • 1897: $1,817,672,665.90
  • 1898: $1,796,531,995.90
  • 1899: $1,991,927,306.92
  • 1900: $2,136,961,091.67
  • 1901: $2,143,326,933.89

Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909

  • 1901: $2,143,326,933.89
  • 1902: $2,158,610,445.89
  • 1903: $2,202,464,781.89
  • 1904: $2,264,003,585.14
  • 1905: $2,274,615,063.84
  • 1906: $2,337,161,839.04
  • 1907: $2,457,188,061.54
  • 1908: $2,626,806,271.54
  • 1909: $2,639,546,241.04

William H. Taft, 1909-1913

  • 1909: $2,639,546,241.04
  • 1910: $2,652,665,838.04
  • 1911: $2,765,600,606.69
  • 1912: 2,868,373,874.16
  • 1913: $2,916,204,913.66

Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921

  • 1913: $2,916,204,913.66
  • 1914: $2,912,499,269.16
  • 1915: $3,058,136,873.16
  • 1916: $3,609,244,262.16
  • 1917: $5,717,770,279.52
  • 1918: $14,592,161,414
  • 1919: $27,390,970,113.12
  • 1920: $25,952,456,406.16
  • 1921: $23,977,450,552.54

Warren Harding, 1921-1923

  • 1921: $23,977,450,552.54
  • 1922: $22,963,381,708.31
  • 1923: $22,349,707,365.36

Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929

  • 1923: $22,349,707,365.36
  • 1924: $21,250,812,989.49
  • 1925: $20,516,193,887.90
  • 1926: $19,643,216,315.19
  • 1927: $18,511,906,931.85
  • 1928: $17,604,293,201.43
  • 1929: $16,931,088,484.10

Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933

  • 1929: $16,931,088,484.10
  • 1930: $16,185,309,831.43
  • 1931: $16,801,281,491.71
  • 1932: $19,487,002,444.13
  • 1933: $22,538,672,560.15

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945

  • 1933: $22,538,672,560.15
  • 1934: $27,053,141,414.48
  • 1935: $28,700,892,624.53
  • 1936: $33,778,543,493.73
  • 1937: $36,424,613,732.29
  • 1938: $37,164,740,315.45
  • 1939: $40,439,532,411.11
  • 1940: $42,967,531,037.68
  • 1941: $48,961,443,535.71
  • 1942: $72,422,445,116.22
  • 1943: $136,696,090,329.90
  • 1944: $201,003,387,221.13
  • 1945: $258,682,187,409.93

Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953

  • 1945: $258,682,187,409.93
  • 1946: $269,422,099,173.26
  • 1947: $258,286,383,108.67
  • 1948: $252,292,246,512.99
  • 1949: $252,770,359,860.33
  • 1950: $257,357,352,351.04
  • 1951: $255,221,976,814.93
  • 1952: $259,105,178,785.43
  • 1953: $266,071,061,638.57

Dwight Eisenhower, 1953-1961

  • 1953: $266,071,061,638.57
  • 1954: $271,259,599,108.46
  • 1955: $274,374,222,802.62
  • 1956: $272,750,813,649.32
  • 1957: $270,527,171,896.43
  • 1958: $276,343,217,745.81
  • 1959: $284,705,907,078.22
  • 1960: $286,330,760,848.37
  • 1961: $288,970,938,610.05

John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963

  • 1961: $288,970,938,610.05
  • 1962: $298,200,822,720.87
  • 1963: $305,859,632,996.41

Lyndon Johnson, 1963-1969

  • 1963: $305,859,632,996.41
  • 1964: $311,712,899,257.30
  • 1965: $317,273,898,983.64
  • 1966: $319,907,087,795.48
  • 1967: $326,220,937,794.54
  • 1968: $347,578,406,425.88
  • 1969: $353,720,253,841.41

White House Photo Office / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Richard Nixon, 1969-1974

  • 1969: $353,720,253,841.41
  • 1970: $370,918,706,949.93
  • 1971: $398,129,744,455.54
  • 1972: $427,260,460,940.50
  • 1973: $458,141,605,312.09
  • 1974: $475,059,815,731.55

David Hume Kennerly / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Gerald Ford, 1974-1977

  • 1974: $475,059,815,731.55
  • 1975: $533,189,000,000 (Treasury figures rounded to millions)
  • 1976: $620,433,000,000
  • 1977: $698,840,000,000 (Congress changed the beginning of the fiscal year from July 1 to Oct. 1 in 1977)

Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981

  • 1977: $698,840,000,000
  • 1978: $771,544,000,000
  • 1979: $826,519,000,000
  • 1980: $907,701,000,000
  • 1981: $997,855,000,000

Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989

  • 1981: $997,855,000,000
  • 1982: $1,142,034,000,000
  • 1983: $1,377,210,000,000
  • 1984: $1,572,266,000,000
  • 1985: $1,823,103,000,000
  • 1986: $2,125,302,616,658.42
  • 1987: $2,350,276,890,953
  • 1988: $2,602,337,712,041.16
  • 1989: $2,857,430,960,187.32

George H.W. Bush, 1989-1993

  • 1989: $2,857,430,960,187.32
  • 1990: $3,233,313,451,777.25
  • 1991: $3,665,303,351,697.03
  • 1992: $4,064,620,655,521.66
  • 1993: $4,411,488,883,139.38

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

William J. Clinton, 1993-2001

  • 1993: $4,411,488,883,139.38
  • 1994: $4,692,749,910,013.32
  • 1995: $4,973,982,900,709.39
  • 1996: $5,224,810,939,135.73
  • 1997: $5,413,146,011,397.34
  • 1998: $5,526,193,008,897.62
  • 1999: $5,656,270,901,615.43
  • 2000: $5,674,178,209,886.86
  • 2001: $5,807,463,412,200.06

Eric Draper / The George W. Bush Presidential

George W. Bush, 2001-2009

  • 2001: $5,807,463,412,200.06
  • 2002: $6,228,235,965,597.16
  • 2003: $6,783,231,062,743.62
  • 2004: $7,379,052,696,330.32
  • 2005: $7,932,709,661,723.50
  • 2006: $8,506,973,899,215.23
  • 2007: $9,007,653,372,262.48
  • 2008: $10,024,724,896,912.49
  • 2009: $11,909,829,003,511.75

dominika zarzycka / Shutterstock.com

Barack Obama, 2009-2017

  • 2009: $11,909,829,003,511.75
  • 2010: $13,561,623,030,891.79
  • 2011: $14,790,340,328,557.15
  • 2012: $16,066,241,407,385.89
  • 2013: $16,738,183,526,697.32
  • 2014: $17,824,071,380,733.82
  • 2015: $18,150,617,666,484.33
  • 2016: $19,573,444,713,936.79
  • 2017: $20,244,900,016,053.51

Alex Brandon/AP / Shutterstock.com

Donald J. Trump, 2017 to Present

  • 2017: $20,244,900,016,053.51
  • 2018: $21,516,058,183,180.23
  • Current (as of Sept. 9, 2019): $22,558,141,162,723.67

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