In the 1930s, America Defaulted on Its Debt. It Could Happen Again.

FDR's Decision to Drop the Gold Standard Holds Resonance Today as Big Bills Come Due

In the darkest days of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with support from Congress and the Supreme Court, agreed to wipe out more than 40 percent of public and private debts. With that decisive action, the United States staved off bankruptcy and began to claw its way back to stability and, eventually, prosperity.

But could the default scenario repeat itself—especially now that the United States is shouldering about $22 trillion of debt, plus tens of trillions more in Medicare, Social Security, and unfunded state and local pension obligations?

You …

When the U.S. Government Asked American Families to Turn in Their Gold

American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle Over Gold

At $20 trillion, the national debt of the United States is slightly bigger than the annual output of the American economy. Government shutdowns and brinksmanship about extending the country’s debt …

The Reporter Who Helped Persuade FDR to Tell the Truth About War

After Witnessing the Bloody Struggle with Japan, Robert Sherrod Thought the Public Should Face the 'Cruel' Facts

Betio, part of the Tarawa Atoll, is a small, bird-shaped island along the equator in the central Pacific. Early in the morning on November 20, 1943, elements of the Second …

The New Deal Origins of Homeland Security

During FDR’s Administration, the First Lady and the Mayor of New York Clashed Over Guns, Butter, and American Liberalism

Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have faced a set of seemingly unprecedented national security challenges and anxieties. Our society has been consumed with debates …