Many Americans are struggling to get by or just barely make it. If you have fallen behind on bills, mortgage payments, or other debt you are not alone. Many celebrities have filed for bankruptcy in order to have a fresh financial start, and ended up making a comeback as a result.
1. Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe, our 16th president, declared bankruptcy in 1833 as the result of the failure of several general stores that he had purchased on credit. In those days the bankruptcy code was not nearly as borrower friendly as it today. Lincoln continued to make payments for seventeen years after the failure of his business, much longer than current Chapter 13 repayment plans of today. In fact, that process was so onerous that Lincoln called it ”my national debt.”
Nevertheless, the ability to restructure payments ensured that Lincoln’s future was not tied to a poor business decision he made in his twenties. Instead, Lincoln made his final payment while working as an attorney and was elected to the presidency ten years later. He was not the only president to declare bankruptcy: Thomas Jefferson, William McKinley, and Ulysses Grant all declared bankruptcy during their lives.
2. Mark Twain
Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, led a successful career as a writer penning some of the most well-loved American literature of all time. In 1894, he sought protection of the courts, in part because he had opened a publishing business with an inexperienced partner. He had also invested a large portion of his writing profits in a machine known as the Paige Compositor that has promised to revolutionize the typesetting industry. When it proved unsuccessful, Twain had no other choice but to seek to protection of the courts.
By his own account, the insolvency proceedings offered Twain a new lease on life and a fresh start. He famously wrote that “[t]he law recognizes no mortgage on a man’s brain, and a merchant who has given up all he has may take advantage of the rules of insolvency and start free again for himself.” By 1898, Twain had paid off his debts. He continued to write, penning some of his best work after bankruptcy and amassed substantial personal wealth later in life.
3. Walt Disney
Many remember Walt Disney for his iconic characters which have become a household name. Few remember that before there was Mickey, there was a failed business in Disney’s past. His first business, Laugh-O-Gram, was started in 1920 with the help of two other creative business partners. When a distributer began to defraud Disney’s studio, the studio was unable to meet its financial obligations and Disney was forced to file bankruptcy in 1923. That same year, Disney’s family offered him a personal loan to start a new venture. This studio began work on a little cartoon mouse and the rest is history.
At Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., we know that bankruptcy is a bump in the road, not the end of the road. Our firm can help you get the fresh start you need to rebuild your financial life and make the comeback you deserve. Contact our law firm by filling out the form or by calling 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at