Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

My family’s July Fourth holiday began with a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s family home at Monticello.  Besides the usual details on architectural feats and political leadership, the tour guide mentioned Jefferson’s financial difficulties.  Jefferson was in debt most of the time and in his final years had accumulated over $100,000 in debt  -   about $2.3 million in current dollars.

Jefferson was not the only U.S. president to experience heavy debt.  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, William McKinley and Harry Truman also had money problems.  It seems the United States has a long history of spendthrifts in the Oval Office.

If presidents have so much difficulty with their own finances it is no wonder they have trouble balancing the country’s budget.  Today our national debt stands at $15.9 trillion.  That is about $52,200 per person.

Thomas Jefferson’s family inherited his debt and had to sell Monticello to a private party to settle his debts.  Fortunately, the property fell into the hands of wealthy northerner with a sense of history, who took great pains to preserve Monticello’s historic integrity.  Since then the country has been sinking into its own debt quagmire and we have been relying on a variety of wealthy foreigners to bail us out.  The verdict is not in on whether our historic integrity will survive.

All the best to you and yours this holiday!

No comments: