Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Kyle Bulthuis

Abstract

The following research explores the development of financial culture in the early American republic through the examination of New York's use of debtors' prisons. Beginning with the construction of the historical context surrounding the passage and abolition of the National Bankrupt Act of 1800, the project takes use of a series of archival sources that exemplify the character of credit in early American economic practices. The emergence of republican financial culture was often at odds with federal judicial and legislative action, the result of which was the creation of state policy and third party organizations dedicated to solving the plight of a growing debtor population. As the narrative of debt transitioned from understanding the debtor as a villain towards a victim, traditional criminal punishments no longer represented cultural values. One such institution scrutinized and debated was the debtors' Gaol.

preliminary_pages.pdf (174 kB)
Preliminary Pages

appendicies.pdf (558 kB)
Appendicies

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