If you are struggling with your finances and your expenses always seem greater than your income, take
heart! You are not alone! Since the dawn of time, men and women have found themselves in the exact
same predicament. And so, the idea of bankruptcy was born. The word is derived from the Latin term
“bancus ruptus” or “broken bench.” When a money changer or banker in Rome went out of business,
he broke his bench to signify to others that he was bankrupt. Cultures the world over have attempted in
various forms to provide some sort of relief to individuals and businesses overwhelmed by debt.

As an immigrant nation, the United States quickly became home to many peoples fleeing creditors in
Europe. To be sure, our fair city of Savannah was originally populated by people from English debt
prisons. Precisely because our founding fathers and mothers knew what it was like to be in dire financial
straits, they took special care to include bankruptcy relief in the U.S. Constitution. Article 1, Section 8,
Clause 4 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to enact, “uniform Law on the subject of Bankruptcies
throughout the United State.” Although we have had various bankruptcy laws in effect since then, the
bankruptcy process is currently governed by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. Designed to help
individuals get a fresh start in life, America’s bankruptcy laws enable our country to continue to be the
land of opportunity!