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Credit NationProperty Laws and Institutions in Early America$
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Claire Priest

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158761

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158761.001.0001

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Parliamentary Authority over Creditors’ Claims

Parliamentary Authority over Creditors’ Claims

The Debt Recovery Act

(p.74) 4 Parliamentary Authority over Creditors’ Claims
Credit Nation

Claire Priest

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes the history and impact of Parliament's Debt Recovery Act of 1732, which created a legal regime strengthening creditors' remedies against land and slaves throughout the British colonies in America and the West Indies. Parliament enacted the Debt Recovery Act in response to concerns among English creditors that the colonists were defeating their efforts to collect on debts by invoking traditional English legal protections to land. The merchants were interested in the laws of Virginia and Jamaica, where planters relied on credit to purchase an increasing supply of slave labor. With some exceptions, colonies relying heavily on slave labor to produce staple crops were more likely than other colonies to uphold the English protections to land and inheritance from unsecured creditors. A second concern driving Parliament's enactment of the Debt Recovery Act was that colonial legislatures might at any time enact laws characterizing slaves as “land” and thereby make the slaves legally immune from seizure by creditors under English law.

Keywords:   Debt Recovery Act, Parliament, English creditors, British colonies, colonial America, property laws, slave labor, slaves, English land law

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