Definition of the Debt Recovery Act
The Meaning and Definition of the Debt Recovery Act: The Debt Recovery Act of 1732 was a British Law, passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, that was designed to respond to the complaints of British merchants that Virginia planters refused to pay their debts. The Act allowed creditors to seize real property, land and personal property which included slaves.
Purpose of the Debt Recovery Act
The Purpose of the Debt Recovery Act of 1732 was to:
- Appease British merchants who were owed money by the colonists
- Allow creditors to seize property, land and slaves
- Guarantee uniform imperial treatment of slave property for debt-recovery purposes in England and its colonies
- Slaves were be treated as personal property and used to clear debts
- Override existing colonial laws in relation to property
Map of the Thirteen Colonies
Debt Recovery Act - Background Information
The background to the Debt Recovery Act is that under English law, an individual’s freehold land was exempted entirely from the claims of unsecured creditors. This law applied even where land had been explicitly pledged as collateral in mortgage agreements. Court proceedings were extremely expensive and the law, the costs and logistics of trying to seize land in America made the recovery of such debts virtually impossible.
The Content and Meaning of the Debt Recovery Act
The Debt Recovery Act for the 'More Easy Recovery of Debts in His Majesty's Plantations and Colonies in America of 1732' was described as “a 'sweeping' statute that guaranteed uniform imperial treatment of slave property for debt-recovery purposes in England and its colonies, overriding all contrary colonial laws.” The Act required that real property (meaning land and any buildings or items permanently attached to land), houses and slaves be treated as legally equivalent to chattels (personal property) for the purpose of satisfying debts in all of the British colonies in America and the West Indies. The Act also required that the courts held auctions to sell both slaves and real property to satisfy debts in most colonies. The Debt Recovery Act therefore gave creditors of the deceased priority over the heirs to the estate.
The Debt Recovery Act and Slavery
The purpose and result of the Debt Recovery Act was that Great Britain sought to protect and encourage slavery by imposing the laws and uniformity needed to support a smoothly functioning slave property system throughout the British Empire. The Debt Recovery Act superseded any local differences in the law of slavery. Slaves in one part of the empire were regarded as property anywhere within it. Evidence suggests that colonial slave imports increased as a result.
The Colonists Reaction to the Debt Recovery Act
The Debt Recovery Act of 1732 was seen as detrimental to Colonial America and sewed the seeds of dissension and rebellion in the colonies. The colonists 'fiercely opposed' the Debt Recovery Act that stated that slaves could be sold to clear debts. The Debt Recovery Act was one of a series of laws and acts imposed by Great Britain that led to anger, resentment, dissension and ultimately revolution in Colonial America - the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
Debt Recovery Act - Salutary Neglect
The English policy of Salutary Neglect that was in effect from 1607-1763 was a long-standing British Policy in the 13 colonies which allowed the colonists to flout, or violate, the laws associated with trade. However, the British government was far more vigilant when overseeing matters concerning merchants who were based in Great Britain. Their concerns were with issues involving contracts, debts, and the rates of currency exchange - also refer to Colonial, Continental and Revolutionary Currency. Their concern regarding these matters led to the Debt Recovery Act of 1732.
Taxes in the Colonies - The Declaration of Independence
Debt Recovery Act - British Laws and Taxes
The full name of the Debt Recovery Act was "the Act for the More Easy Recovery of Debts in His Majesty’s Plantations and Colonies in America". Discover interesting facts and information about the Laws and Taxes in the 13 Colonies, including the Debt Recovery Act, which was imposed on the colonists of Colonial America by the British government via parliament. The Debt Recovery Act was one of a series of laws and taxes that divided Great Britain and its colonies in America. The role of the legal systems and courts in the colonies included enforcing the laws of Great Britain.
Debt Recovery Act
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