[New York: Narine & Cos, 1840?]. 16pp, folded as issued. Lightly dusted and foxed, Good+ or so.
The Jacksonian Stilwell was an important figure in the movement to abolish imprisonment for debt in New York. His sympathy with unfortunate debtors is evident in this pamphlet, a plea for a voluntary bankruptcy law, permitting debtors to gain a fresh start in life. Stilwell's arguments helped to enact the historic federal Bankruptcy Act of 1841 after unprecedented commercial failures during the Panic of 1837. It was the first to permit voluntary bankruptcies.
The first Bankruptcy Act, enacted in 1800, was repealed in 1803. The 1800 law had authorized creditors to place the debtor in bankruptcy and seize his assets; but it had not allowed debtors to choose bankruptcy. The 1840 Bill, whose enactment Stilwell urges, passed the Senate but was tabled in the House. However, it was revived in the next Congress and passed in 1841. Only two years after its enactment, charges of corruption and profligate expenditures, and at least one lower court decision that the Act was unconstitutional, led to the Act's repeal.
Not in Cohen, Sabin, or American Imprints. OCLC 39814558 [4- U MA, U MN, U WI, NYHS] as of December 2019. Item #24533