Research on the American Revolutionary debt has particularly focused on the leadership of American financial figures: most notably Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris and U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. While scholars affirm their indispensable leadership, they also acknowledge institutional and political conditions that distinguish their tenures. This CE/T seeks to further analyze these conditions. It draws upon scholarly works while evaluating different aspects and time frames of Americas’ public debt, including the initial accumulation of debt, the tenure of Robert Morris, the formation of the U.S. Constitution, and the tenure of Alexander Hamilton. The CE/T also analyzes the papers of James Madison, Robert Morris, and Alexander Hamilton, the Journals of the Continental Congress, The Federalist Papers, the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution. It asserts that, without centralizing political authority in the national government during the 1780s and early 1790s—specifically, without key economic powers granted to the national government by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution—the United States would have lacked the apparatus and decisive leadership necessary to install proper management of its Revolutionary War debt. The nation’s financial ruin, which would have caused its political disbandment, was averted by embracing a strong national government.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Kate Brown, Ph.D.
Legal | Other History | Political History | United States History
Berg, Ethan, "Centralizing the Purse: Why a More Centralized National Government Was Crucial for Managing America's Revolutionary War Debt" (2021). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 899.
Available for download on Saturday, April 13, 2024