The Seattle Times

STEVEN SENNE / AP
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

U.S. never defaulted on its debt? Not so fast

Military re-enactors in the uniforms of U.S. Marines from the War of 1812, marching in front of the USS Constitution, moments after the vessel arrived at her berth in Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the ship's victory over HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812. As Washington wrestles with the debt limit, historians point out that America has stiffed creditors at least twice before, including defaulting in 1814, when the Treasury was empty, the White House and Capitol were charred ruins, and even the troops fighting the 32-month War of 1812 against the British weren't getting paid.