|Noun||1.||public debt - the total of the nation's debts: debts of local and state and national governments; an indicator of how much public spending is financed by borrowing instead of taxation|
PUBLIC DEBT. That which is due or owing by the government.
2. The constitution of the United States provides, art. 6, s. 1, that "all debts contracted or engagements entered into, before the adoption of this constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this constitution, as under the confederation." It has invariably been the policy since the Revolution, to do justice to the creditors of the government. The public debt has sometimes been swelled to a large amount, and at other times it has been reduced to almost nothing.