Benjamin Franklin

A Nation Built on Debt

What is debt and where did it come from?

Debtors’ Prisons, Class, and Patriotism in 18th Century Ireland

In a paper for Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Martyn J. Powell discusses the politics that seem to have limited the use of debtors' prisons in Ireland.
Antique engraving of a view of the State Street, Boston. Mid 1800s.

The Birth of the Modern American Debt Collector

In the 19th century, farm loans changed from a matter between associates into an impersonal, bureaucratic exchange.
Prison Cell

The Return of Debtors’ Prisons

New lawsuits allege that court officials are jailing people who fall behind on payment of court fees and fines, leading to a resurgence of debtors' prisons.
credit cards on dollars

How Credit Reporting Agencies Got Their Power

Early credit reporting companies urged people to “Treat their credit as a sacred trust” and argued that keeping a good credit record was a moral concern.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie (1921 - 2000) addresses a Drop The Debt rally in Trafalgar Square, 13th June 1999.

Debt Forgiveness and Jubilee 2000

Erasing student loans is a hot topic of conversation now. In the 1990s, debt forgiveness was an international movement.
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