Steve Pincus is Bradford Durfee Professor of History and Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale. His most recent book is 1688: The First Modern Revolution. He is currently completing a history of the Declaration of Independence in its imperial context. He is a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers for 2014-2015.

Follow Steve Pincus on Twitter: @PincusSteven.

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1776: The Revolt Against Austerity

Detail from The Great Financier, or British Economy for the Years 1763, 1764, 1765, showing British Prime Minister George Grenville holding a balance in which debt outweighs savings, 1765

Was the Declaration of Independence a powerful indictment of British austerity policies? Does America’s founding document need to be seen as part of an economic debate about the British Empire? These questions may seem jarring, almost anachronistic. But eighteenth-century political argument, like that of our own day, often revolved around responses to fiscal crisis.