Terms of the Debt-Ceiling Debate, Through the Centuries

More

Thanks to Google Ngrams, which tracks the frequency of word use in all books in the Google Books corpus, political terms are traceable throughout the ages.

Putting aside any skepticism about Google's ability to catalogue every word used in history, the graphs do show us that some of these terms were popular in American English books as far back as America's early days, when national debt was a matter of debate for Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, rather than Barack Obama and John Boehner.

Uses of "national debt," for instance, peaked in the 1790s, when Congress created the first national bank of the U.S. and when America still carried a national debt from the Revolutionary War. Uses of "austerity" peaked around the same time. "Debt Limit," meanwhile, peaked around 1920. Congress created the statutory federal debt limit with the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Shifting Our Moral Compass?

"The experience of taking another human life becomes much more trivial."


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In