U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 (Bankruptcy)
Ever hear the fans of the educational-industrial complex bad mouth bankruptcy relief as some new-fangled boondongle of 60's hippies? Well it isn't. Bankruptcy is as old as the bible and was deliberated by our founding fathers. It is ironic to see these people go against the traditions of those who fought in our American Revolution in their struggle against the British. "British merchants and creditors... squaked so loudly that Parliament was forced to act. It restrained the colonial legislatures from passing lax bankruptcy laws..." See, American Pageant
, 7th ed p84. No less an esteemed founder than Thomas Paine was involved in bankruptcy himself after a failed business and loosing several jobs. Wikipedia on Thomas Paine
Robert Morris declared bankuptcy after the revolution. Price Paid
In fact, so many of the founding fathers were running from creditors that they worked on bankruptcy fresh starts in the constitution BEFORE the bill of rights.
Joseph Story commented on the constitutional, religious, and moral arguments for bankruptcy in the United States as early as 1833.
"...that the general object of all bankrupt and insolvent laws is, on the one hand, to secure to creditors an appropriation of the property of their debtors pro tanto to the discharge of their debts, whenever the latter are unable to discharge the whole amount; and, on the other hand, to relieve unfortunate and honest debtors from perpetual bondage to their creditors, either in the shape of unlimited imprisonment to coerce payment of their debts, or of an absolute right to appropriate and monopolize all their future earnings. The latter course obviously destroys all encouragement to industry and enterprize on the part of the unfortunate debtor, by taking from him all the just rewards of his labour, and leaving him a miserable pittance, dependent upon the bounty or forbearance of his creditors... "
"It is incompatible with the first precepts of Christianity; and is a living reproach to the nations of christendom, carrying them back to the worst ages of paganism. One of the first duties of legislation, while it provides amply for the sacred obligation of contracts, and the remedies to enforce them, certainly is, pari passu, to relieve the unfortunate and meritorious debtor from a slavery of mind and body, which cuts him off from a fair enjoyment of the common benefits of society, and robs his family of the fruits of his labour, and the benefits of his paternal superintendence. A national government, which did not possess this power of legislation, would be little worthy of the exalted functions of guarding the happiness, and supporting the rights of a free people. It might guard against political oppressions, only to render private oppressions more intolerable, and more glaring."Thomas Storey