Presidents Day Secrets - Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Bankruptcy

Share Article

As Many Americans Face Bankruptcy in Today's Economy, Lincoln's and Jefferson's Bankruptcies Remain A Little Known Secret

Many of the people I work with are amazed to learn that Presidents Lincoln and Jefferson dealt with personal bankruptcy.

Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson are noted for many things, but bankruptcy usually isn't one of them. Yet both President Lincoln and President Jefferson were declared bankrupt in their lifetimes. According to historians, Thomas Jefferson is thought to have faced personal bankruptcy several times during his adult life. As more Americans are forced to file bankruptcy today because of our recession, Presidents Day can remind us that even America's finest presidents had financial problems.

Abraham Lincoln is often considered the wisest American President. Lincoln guided the United States through a devastating Civil War by relying upon his incredible intelligence, leadership skills, and charisma. However, many years before Lincoln became one of history's finest Presidents, Lincoln was a failed shop keeper. Lincoln opened a shop in 1832, became bankrupt in 1833, and spent the next 17 years paying off debts from his failed venture.

Thomas Jefferson's Presidential accomplishments are incredible as well. After authoring the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson became the 3rd U.S. President and consummated the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. What many Americans don't know, however, is that Jefferson spent most of his adult life in debt.

Historian Herbert Sloan writes "debt occupied an extremely important place in Jefferson's life," in his book Principal and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt. Sloan found that Jefferson's personal debt load "was central to his experience from his thirties to his eighties, and this half-century of concern and worry about debt inevitably left its mark on Jefferson."

During the time of both Jefferson and Lincoln, bankruptcy protection laws in the United States were significantly more onerous than today. While U.S. consumers living in 2010 can file personal bankruptcy to escape crippling debt, Jefferson and Lincoln had no such option. Instead, Lincoln toiled for nearly two decades to pay back creditors, while Jefferson died with more than $100,000 in debt - an incredible sum in the year 1826.

Local Colorado bankruptcy attorney Gailyn Wink says that "Many of the people I work with are amazed to learn that Presidents Lincoln and Jefferson dealt with personal bankruptcy." Wink adds that "Lincoln and Jefferson weren't alone. Former U.S. Presidents Ulysses Grant and William McKinley were bankrupt at one point."

According to Gailyn Wink, bankruptcy has an negative reputation that it really doesn't deserve. "If Abe Lincoln can deal with bankruptcy and go one to become of our nation's greatest Presidents, today's consumers should understand that sometimes bankruptcy is the best way out of a bad situation." Gailyn's business partner and husband Michael Wink, who is also a bankruptcy attorney, adds that "Around here, we have an expression. Bankruptcy isn't a four letter word - debt is."

If you are a Colorado consumer facing crippling debt, learn more about bankruptcy by contacting Wink & Wink, P.C.

About Wink & Wink, PC

Wink & Wink, PC is a small, family operated law firm with an emphasis on counseling individuals and small businesses in bankruptcy matters. The firm is unique in that they create a personal connection with every client ensuring every decision is made with confidence. Michael Wink, Esq. and Gailyn Wink, Esq. specialize in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies and their combined experience covers the law as well as finance and business. Based in Denver, Colorado, Wink & Wink offer free consultations to individuals and companies throughout Colorado. For more information, visit

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Gailyn Wink
Visit website