Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Debts Passed on to Future Generations

Jefferson made it clear that only an immoral people would pass along the debts of their comfortable living to their children and those generations yet unborn. He reminded his listeners that children are born free and should not be burdened by an indebted future.  Prior to the War Between the States a sitting president would endeavor to pay off debts generated by his administration.
Bernhard Thuersam,   The Great American Political Divide

Debts Passed on to Future Generations

“As the doctrine is that a public debt is a public blessing, so they [the supporters of State debt assumption] think a perpetual one is a perpetual blessing, and, therefore, wish to make it so large that we can never pay it off.” (to Nicholas Lewis, 1792)

“That we are bound to defray the expenses of the war within our own time, and unauthorized to burthen posterity with them, I suppose to have been proved in my former letter. There have existed nations, and civilized and learned nations, who have thought that a father had a right to sell his child as a slave, in perpetuity; that he could alienate his body and industry conjointly, and a fortiari his industry separately; and consume the fruits himself.  A nation asserting this fratricide right might well suppose they could burthen with public as well as private debt their [children and future generations].

We acknowledge that our children are born free; that their freedom is the gift of nature, and not of him who begot them . . . so when adult is sui juris, entitled himself to the use of his own limbs and fruits of his own exertions . . . we believe [that to] oblige them to pay for all the enterprises, just or unjust, profitable or ruinous, into which our vices, our passions, or our personal interests may lead us.  But I trust that this proposition needs only to be looked at by an American to be seen in its true point of view, and that we shall consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life of the majority.

We must raise, then, ourselves the money for this war, either by taxes within the year, or by loans; and if by loans, we must repay them ourselves, proscribing forever the English practice of perpetual funding; the ruinous consequences of which, putting right out of the question, should be a sufficient warning to a considerate nation to avoid the example.” (to J.W. Eppes, September 1813)

(The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Debt and Generations, Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1900, pp. 226-227)


  1. I'm not the Government's cow, to be milked at their whim; my milk is mine, and to whosoever I please to give some to.

    Besides, I'm a bucket-kicker. :)

    Central Alabamaian