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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Vanatta, Sean H. 2016. Citibank, Credit Cards, and the Local Politics of National Consumer Finance, 1968–1991. Business History Review, Vol. 90, Issue. 01, p. 57.

    Van Bochove, C. and Van Velzen, T. 2014. Loans to salaried employees: the case of the Dutch East India Company, 1602-1794. European Review of Economic History, Vol. 18, Issue. 1, p. 19.


The Borrower's Tale: A History of Poor Debtors in Lochner Era New York City


When asked why he did not read over the loan documents before signing them, John Doherty explained: “I was anxious to get the money, I didn't bother about it.” In February 1910, the twenty-three-year-old railroad clerk walked into the offices of the Chesterkirk Company, a loan-sharking operation with offices in lower Manhattan. He was looking to borrow some money. Repayment was guaranteed by the only security Doherty had to offer: his prospective wages and, in his words, his “reputation.” After a brief investigation of Doherty's creditworthiness, the loan was approved. The office manager placed a cross in lead pencil at the bottom of a lengthy form and Doherty signed where indicated. He received $34.85 in exchange for his promise to repay the loan principal plus $10.15 in combined fees and interest in three months. The interest charged was significantly greater than the 6 percent per year allowed in New York State. Doherty's effective annualized interest rate, including fees, was over 100 percent.

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David E. Bernstein, Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2011)

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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