The Political Development of American Debt Relief (Paperback)

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The Political Development of American Debt Relief By Emily Zackin, Chloe N. Thurston Cover Image
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A political history of the rise and fall of American debt relief.

Americans have a long history with debt. They also have a long history of mobilizing for debt relief. Throughout the nineteenth century, indebted citizens demanded government protection from their financial burdens, challenging readings of the Constitution that exalted property rights at the expense of the vulnerable. Their appeals shaped the country’s periodic experiments with state debt relief and federal bankruptcy law, constituting a pre-industrial safety net. Yet, the twentieth century saw the erosion of debtor politics and the eventual retrenchment of bankruptcy protections.

The Political Development of American Debt Relief traces how geographic, sectoral, and racial politics shaped debtor activism over time, enhancing our understanding of state-building, constitutionalism, and social policy.

About the Author

Emily Zackin is associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.

Chloe N. Thurston is associate professor of political science at Northwestern University.

Praise For…

“Emily Zackin and Chloe Thurston have written an essential book on the history of debt relief in the United States. This is a must-read for anyone interested in American political economy, political development, and constitutional history.”
— Ganesh Sitaraman | author of "The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution"

“Zackin and Thurston have given us a brilliant, sweeping account of the politics of debt in the United States. Situating debt relief in the context of racialized social policy, they illuminate how the interplay of economic context, organized interests, and constitutional interpretation shaped American bankruptcy laws over the past century and a half. This book is essential reading.”
— Kathleen Thelen | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"The Political Development of American Debt Relief is a gem of a book—deeply researched, elegantly written, and a truly compelling account of the entire trajectory of the unique political economy of consumer debt relief in the United States. Zackin and Thurston tell the story of how debt-relief politics emerged in the nineteenth century and receded in the twentieth before beginning to re-emerge today. Along the way, they produce a model for future scholars of how to do this kind of work: how to thread complex legal and constitutional questions together with the dynamics of class, race, political mobilization, lobbying, and political power."
— Joseph Fishkin | coauthor of "The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution"
Product Details
ISBN: 9780226832371
ISBN-10: 0226832376
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: June 7th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English