Thomas Jefferson lived in debt most all his life because he was a reckless spender and an irresponsible debtor.
The War of 1812 wreaked the U.S. economy generally, and Jefferson specifically along with most others. The debt incurred from his father-in-law, John Wayles, doesn't begin to measure against the vast sums Jefferson spent on wine and books alone, throughout his long life.
Americans are known to be ignorant of our history. When I read in this newspaper recently that Thomas Jefferson spent a lifetime of onerous debt because of his father-in-law's debts, I was driven to the history books for basic fact-checking. It is my conclusion the writer's "fact" was faith-based. Its historical accuracy nears: "Pants on Fire."
There were tremendous economic hardships in the colonies leading to the Revolution of 1776. Many properties were sold at auction by the sheriff, as they are today, to compensate the lender.
"On April 5, 1769, (George) Washington wrote to George Mason, "That many families (in Virginia) are reduced almost, if not quite, to penury and want by the low ebb of their fortunes, and that estates are daily selling for the discharge of debts, the public papers furnish too many melancholy proofs." In that year, a petition to Gov. Franklin led to the passage of the New Jersey Act "For the Relief of Insolvent Debtors."
I've listened to recent political speeches that declared no generation of Americans have ever had a decline of their standard of living. Another lie.
Our greatest failing is that economic failure has usually driven the citizens to demand economic reform, and that isn't even a consideration for the majority of our Congress.