• Famous Bankruptcies: Ulysses S. Grant

    As millions of Americans consider which candidate they think is the best man to be president, this week’s famous bankruptcy will look back on one of the former presidents that numerous polls rank as one of the worst. The administration of Ulysses S. Grant was marred by numerous scandals such as Black Friday in 1869 and the Whiskey Ring in 1875. “My failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent,” Grant wrote to Congress at the conclusion of his second term.

    The two years Grant spent traveling the world with his wife and dining with foreign dignitaries at the end of his second term depleted most of his savings. At the suggestion of his son, Buck, Grant placed nearly all of his financial assets into a partnership with Ferdinand Ward. However, Ward mismanaged and embezzled the money, bankrupting the company and leaving Grant’s family deep in debt.

    Suffering from throat cancer, Grant struck a publishing deal with Mark Twain to use the memoirs to repay his debts and provide for his family after his death. The terminally ill former president worked tirelessly on the project in the final year of his life and finished his autobiography just days before his death. The book received widespread praise upon publication with Twain calling the book “a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece.” “There is no higher literature than these modest, simple Memoirs,” Twain said. “Their style is at least flawless, and no man can improve upon it.”

    The corruption that occurred on Grant’s watch during his time in office was unprecedented at the time and has certainly contributed to his low placement in historical rankings. However, the memoirs as well as his advocacy for civil and human rights-most notably toward American Indians and African Americans-during Reconstruction have helped his reputation improve over time.

    Despite the scandals that plagued his time in office, Grant’s efforts and the methods employed to pay off his debt before his death can be an inspiration to anybody about to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . If you are looking for a fresh start financially, contact my firm to schedule a consultation to see how I can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyer

  • Famous Bankruptcies: Abraham Lincoln

    Chances are good that you have probably seen the infamous “Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Quit” list that has appeared in numerous emails and books ever since it was first created, even appearing in Reader’s Digest in 1967. The 16th President of the United States indeed overcame a number of difficulties in his life, but as the urban legends reference pages at Snopes.com notes about the “Didn’t Quit” list, much of the information contained on the list is guilty of exaggeration or taken out of context.

    One claim on that list is that in 1833, Lincoln “borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.” As Snopes points out, “Honest Abe” had no money for his half when he and William F. Berry purchased a general store in New Salem, Illinois, that year. Rather, he signed a note with one of the previous owners for his share. When he was unable to pay off that note after the debt on the store became due the following year, CNN noted, “Lincoln didn’t have modern bankruptcy laws to protect him.”

    CNN said Lincoln lost his two remaining assets, a horse and some surveying gear, but as Snopes notes, “Lincoln had obtained a position as the New Salem postmaster, and by 1835 he was earning money both as a surveyor and a state legislator.” While CNN reported that Lincoln continued paying off his debts until well into the 1840s, Snopes pointed out that it did not take 17 years nor  was Lincoln “completely financially encumbered until it was paid in full.”

    While Lincoln’s struggles might be subject to some embellishment over time, the fact remains that the man whose face appears on the penny had a period of time in his life where he did not have “a single cent to spare,” as CNN put it. And as CNN also mentioned, other presidents such as Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley have also experienced bankruptcy.

    You might not have hopes of becoming commander-in-chief, but Abraham Lincoln and other presidents who overcame bankruptcy can hopefully prove to you the heights still available after filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney