THE EVOLUTION OF GARNISHMENT AND WAGE ASSIGNMENT LAW IN ILLINOIS

Bradley A. Hansen, Mary Eschelbach Hansen

Abstract


Recent research shows that, despite high interest rates, wage earners in the early twentieth century frequently obtained credit from retail shops, from loan sharks, and from the emerging formal consumer credit market. When wage earners defaulted, the options for collection available to their creditors were governed by state laws on garnishment and wage assignment. These important laws varied widely from state to state, and little is known about their origins or evolution. In Illinois, the law put significant restrictions on creditors in the late nineteenth century, but the restrictions were removed in the first quarter of the twentieth century. This article shows how this dramatic shift resulted from the interaction of legislative and judicial activity and was driven by both interest group politics and judicial action.


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