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obligation in services, money, or goods owed by one party, the debtor, to another, the creditor. When contested, debts are collected by a civil suit upon which the judge renders a judgment, and an execution is levied on the debtor's property. In ancient nations debt was associated with slavery because the insolvent debtor and his household were in many cases turned over to the creditor to perform compulsory services. In early Rome the insolvent was given into custody of the creditor for 60 days prior to his sale as a slave, subject to such treatment as pleased the creditor. That arrangement was mitigated in 494 B.C. by the first of the uprisings of the Roman people; turbulence in Rome afterward was to a large extent occasioned by the desire to restrain creditors. In Greece the reforms of SolonSolon
, c.639–c.559 B.C., Athenian statesman, lawgiver, and reformer. He was also a poet, and some of his patriotic verse in the Ionic dialect is extant. At some time (perhaps c.600 B.C.) he led the Athenians in the recapture of Salamis from the Megarians.
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 had a similar origin. In ancient Israel, every 50th year—the year of jubilee—Jewish debtors were freed and their obligations were canceled. Sumerian and Babylonian kings also periodically proclaimed jubilee periods when debts over seven years old were forgiven. Imprisonment for debt, which once crowded prisons, was ended in theory in England and the United States by laws enacted in the 19th cent. The laws of bankruptcybankruptcy,
in law, settlement of the liabilities of a person or organization wholly or partially unable to meet financial obligations. The purposes are to distribute, through a court-appointed receiver, the bankrupt's assets equitably among creditors and, in most instances, to
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 are designed to apply the resources of debtors to their debts and thereafter to remove such legal obligations.


See D. Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011).

References in periodicals archive ?
This contract is for the completion of a preliminary investigation exhaustively containerization from individual houses, apartment buildings and from non-household that must cover the waste bins needs, should serve to inform users on the principle of the incentive fee, and build the indebted file.
The survey also showed that male adults tend to have higher debts than females, with indebted men owing an average of PS5,969, while indebted women owe an average sum of PS5,107.
He said the nation is equally indebted to the officers and the jawans of the police forces, including the central armed police forces, who are constantly engaging with the enemy within and in the process sacrificing their lives in the line of duty.
The central bank of Sri Lanka has said that the nation is less indebted according to UN standards.
The program is designed to reduce Yemen's large number of indebted prisoners by using federal funds to pay off their debts.
Summary: Indebted telecom operator Zain Saudi reported a narrower second-quarter loss on Tuesday, in line with analyst forecasts, as revenue rose and financing costs fell.
Summary: Jerusalem: Israel's heavily indebted Channel 10 television station has decided to lay off 500 members .
We are indebted to Warwick for running the competition in the first place, but doubly indebted to Matthew for delivering the big-priced winners.
World Bank Country Manager Alexander Kremer expressed regret over refusal of Kyrgyzstan to join the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC).
IPPR's Lewis Goodall said that first of all Scotland is heavily indebted.
With a public debt of 25 percent of GDP, Macedonia is in the group of countries with a low public debt, according to the interactive map of indebted countries that the magazine The Economist posted on its website.
The fruits of the misbegotten scheme for mone-tary union are now spreading from southern Europe's highly indebted countries to the euro -zone's core.