With the presidential campaign in full swing, the size of the national debt and what to do about it is once again the topic of considerable political discussion — some of it heated. The first time the federal government went into debt was this week in 1789, when Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton arranged to borrow nearly $192,000 from the Bank of New York and the Bank of North America. The money was needed to pay the salaries of President Washington and the members of the first Congress. The loan was paid off in less than a year. Today, the president’s salary is $400,000 a year — more than twice the first loan young America took out — and the national debt is measured in trillions of dollars. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.
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