Bankruptcy has been a part of American history since our country's inception and many, many great Americans have filed for bankruptcy.
The most famous bankruptcy filer of all may just be the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. He filed due to the failure of the general store that he owned during his time in Illinois.
Honest Abe is not alone in the 341 meeting room of presidential bankruptcy filers. Only one presidential term separates Ulysses S. Grant from Lincoln, but their financial situations shared the insolvency that brought about bankruptcy – and both got a new financial beginning through the bankruptcy code. Grant's debts mounted from an apparent Ponzi-scheme by an investment partner. Presidents William McKinley and Thomas Jefferson also join Lincoln at the bankruptcy trustee's large table.
Henry Ford had some difficulty placing Detroit on the map for the automobile production prowess for which it is recognized for today. His initial venture, the Detroit Automobile Company, went bankrupt, only allowing for 20 cars to roll off the lot. The industrial genius of Henry Ford was overshadowed at the time by the extremely meticulous nature by which he developed his car designs. Bankruptcy allowed this industrial genius to shed his debts, begin anew and help make America an industrial powerhouse.
Wishing upon a star did not initially yield a profit for the innovative Walt Disney, as his first attempt at film landed him in bankruptcy. However, it was not for an absence of creativity. The distribution company that Disney agreed to allow to handle his films bamboozled him out of the money those original films generated. It took the power of the bankruptcy code and the creation of a special mouse to bring him back into the black.
Another member of the entertainment world (and a former football player at Florida State University), Burt Reynolds, was able to outspend his earnings and after a messy divorce he filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He even had to surrender his mustache in the process! Well, it was the trademark to his mustache that he had to sell off in the reorganization action. But don't feel too bad for the star of "Smokey and the Bandit," "Deliverance" and "The Longest Yard." He retained his $2.5 million mansion and the adoration of millions of movie fans. That mansion would later become the fuel behind a movement to crackdown on the "free pass" wealthy bankruptcy filers seemed to receive in the bankruptcy courts.
Hard financial times and bankruptcy do not indicate the end of times for those who encounter them. The ability of these historic and famous individuals to overcome those financial obstacles and thrive was in part facilitated by the fresh start that bankruptcy provides. It is important that if you find yourself in a situation where your debt is getting to be too much to handle that you contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.